Just a twenty-something living the dream, trying to check off the bucket list, one entry at a time
Did you ever have one of those songs that’s more like a scrapbook than a piece of music? You know, one of those songs that, the second you hear the opening chords, you’re immediately transported to a different time and place and the memories come rapid fire, flashing across your mind? Yeah, we all have those songs. Truth be told, I have a lot of those songs.
Since I started college, I started keeping lists of songs that are important to me. Every semester, I start a new document and add songs to it over the course of the semester. I save them all in a folder called “College Playlists.” I swear, they’re more like mental scrapbooks. I list songs that are important to me or have special meaning or simply the songs that I’ve been listening to a lot. And every now and then, I look back on previous lists, and I have memories associated with each song. I can take one look at the list and know exactly what was happening in my life when I added a certain song to the list.
Full disclosure, this post is actually based of another post I wrote and saved to my draft. I wrote the previous post all in one shot, and when I read over it, I realized it’s more of a diary entry than a blog post. And that is not something I’m going to post quite yet.
I have always associated different genres of music and songs with different times in my life. Play me anyone of those songs, and I immediately remember that point in my life. As I type this, I’m sitting in my room listening to the acoustic version of Yellowcard’s album, Ocean Avenue. In fact, right now, the title track is playing. And man, does it bring back memories. So that’s what this post is about. Various songs and what they mean to me.
So let’s start with Ocean Avenue. I started listening to Yellowcard during my semi-punk phase of my life (at least musically). I was still the same preppy, high school tennis player, but for most of my junior year, the top songs on my iPod were by Yellowcard, Bayside and Cartel. I also listened to a lot of Jack’s Mannequin, although I don’t know how “punk” they could be considered. Like I said, it was only a sorta, kinda punk phase.
The reason behind my sudden switch in music happened to be in the form of a very tall, very cute, blue-eyed boy that I was hopelessly “in like” with.
Anyway, I thought this guy was pretty much perfect for me (we shared the same love of Reese’s), and my friends were convinced we would end up together. This boy, who happened to be a little older than me and a little mysterious (at least to me), was a bit of an audiophile. And guess what his all-time favorite bands were? That’s right. Bayside and Yellowcard. In my defense, I started listening to the music because it’s all I heard him talk about. And what girl (or guy) hasn’t tried something new in order to have a conversation topic with the object of her or his affections? Don’t lie. We’ve all done it. But the thing is, I genuinely ended up enjoying it. To this day, almost four years later, Yellowcard and Bayside make frequent rotations on my playlists. And Jack’s Mannequin, even prior to this guy, was and is one of my favorites.
I didn’t date this boy. I eventually got over him. But every time I hear “Ocean Avenue,” “Mona Lisa,” or “Gifts and Curses,” my thoughts, however fleeting, return to this boy. Believe me. I’m over him. Over him to the point where I look back, and I’m like “girl, what were you thinking?” But I still remember. I remember debates about which Jack’s Mannequin album was the best. I remember delving deeper into each band’s discography and cultivating an interest that transcended my crush. An interest that remains today. No matter what I’m doing, I will totally rock out to Yellowcard’s “City of Devils” if I hear it.
And I have many more songs or bands like that. When I hear “We Are Young” by fun., I think of long drives down the Jersey Turnpike and Atlantic City Expressway, singing along to the radio with my best friend, smelling salt in the air on our way to the beach for Senior Week.
When I hear “The Phoenix” by Fall Out Boy, I think of blasting this song with my college roommate in an attempt to scare off the loud and obnoxious couple that had taken up residence outside our dorm room door late one night.
When I hear “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark,” also by Fall Out Boy, I think of plugging myself into my headphones, shutting myself off from the world and feverishly writing an article so I can make a deadline that happens to be in about 20 minutes.
When I hear “O Valencia” by The Decemberists, I think of Friday nights in high school when I had first gotten a car and the freedom that comes with wheels. I think of driving around with my best friend, singing along, dancing at red lights and rolling the windows down so the world knew we had good music.
This last one’s a doozy. Probably because of how close it cuts to the truth. Every time I hear the song “Springsteen” by Eric Church, I’m immediately transported to a summer high school. If I close my eyes, I can smell a burning bonfire and hear the cicadas of summer nights. I was dating this guy who was a huge country fan. I listened to a lot of country that summer, and I’m still a fan. Hey, we all have our guilty pleasures. Some people have chocolate. I have Luke Bryan.
The lyrics of that song sum up my summer. There were rides in an old Jeep, plenty of nights in mutual friends’ backyards with bonfires and summer stars. And yes, I made him listen to Springsteen (one of my favorites) to balance out the country music to which I was subjected. Even the opening chords are an assault on the senses and memories start like a movie, flashing across my eyes
Isn’t that amazing? But then again, isn’t that what music is supposed to do? It’s supposed to cut right down to our souls. It’s supposed to say that which we can’t. Many times, music knows what we’re thinking or feeling better than we do. It shows us we’re not alone. Even if we feel that no one on the planet can empathize, music reminds us there’s someone out there who’s already been through whatever we’re battling and has even written a song about it.
That’s the inherent power of music. It transcends simple words. It breaks through the mundane. It reminds us we’re all connected somehow. And yes, music remembers for us. It remembers whatever memory is too painful for us to hold. It keeps it safe until we’re ready revisit it. When our hearts are too full of emotion to process whatever beauty we’re experiencing, music is there. It connects souls on a deeper level than mere words. Why do you think so many couples have “their song.” My parents have one, my grandparents have one, and I’m betting yours do too.
Our music tastes grow and change as we do. And like we do, some stay the same through the years. Music is always there to remind us who we were, are and are becoming. It reminds us where we came from, where we are and where we’re going.
Music beautiful concept that can’t be given full justice in this post. We can’t quite put it into words, but we all know it’s true. We feel it, rather than analyzing it. The beauty is in the experience. So keep on listening. Keep on living. Keep on experiencing.