62

Song Title: Mykonos
Artist: Fleet Foxes
Age at time of Song Memory : 20
Current Age: 21

Song Memory: Arriving in an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar people was the environment I needed to find myself. I met people from all different walks of life and was introduced to new ideas and perspectives. Someone I met when I studied abroad showed me this song when I first arrived and I listened to it almost every day for 5 months. This song reminds me of letting go of what I know and exploration of the self and the world; it gives me a sense of wanderlust. You go where ever you go today…you go…

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61

Song Title: A Hard Day’s Night
Artist: The Beatles
Age at time of Song Memory : 5
Current Age: 19

The song brings me back to many fond memories spent with my late grandmother at her house when she would watch me during the day while my then single-parent mom went to work. I remember sitting around the dining room table with her, my grandfather, and my sister with the Beatles album playing on a record player on repeat. We would sit around the dining room table playing board games or completing a puzzle for hours on end. My favorite games were Clue and Trump. There was always a smell of freshly baked brownies around the house because she loved baking. She had a large, wood table with green wallpaper and giant windows covering most of the walls.

My grandmother was a beautiful woman with short, curly gray hair and the kindest eyes. She always wore the same perfume, and before she passed she gave my sister and I a small bottle of it. Whenever I need strength I pull out the bottle and am reminded of her and how strong and kind of a person she was. For many years after this I never listened to the Beatles until one day this past summer I heard the song “A Hard Day’s Night” and the memories came rushing back and I felt as though I was still at her house with her in the age of pure carelessness and happiness. Since then I’ve listened to the same songs my grandma would play over and over and now I don’t get the feeling as strong because I listened to them too much. But it still brings a smile to my face when I think about those days and how awesome my grandma was.

60

Song Title: Home
Artist: Phillip Phillips
Age at time of Song Memory : 23
Current Age: 24

Song Memory: My fiancé, Nick, and I are in a long distance relationship. He is deployed with the Air Force, and I’m here in the States waiting for him to come home. One of the first times I heard this song, I was at work, humming along with the radio, when the lyrics struck a chord (pun totally intended). “Hold on, to me as we go/As we roll down this unfamiliar road/And although this wave is stringing us along/Just know you’re not alone/Cause I’m going to make this place your home” This song helped reinforce the fact that it doesn’t matter in the long run that we are apart for now, no matter what is going on abroad or here at home, we will work through anything we need to be with each other. What matters is that we are always thinking of each other and in each others heart. And we will both be there for each other no matter what, and when he does finally come home next year, all the waiting will have been worth it and we will be that much stronger together.

59

Song: Everything You Want
Artist: Vertical Horizon
Memory age: 12
Current Age: 23

Middle school. Making the 45 minute drive home, late at night, from so many school functions– plays, talent shows, school dances. I sit in the backseat of my mom’s 2000 VW Bug, head pressed against the cool window glass, staring up at all the stars in the night sky. She puts Vertical Horizon on, and I contemplate my latest crush and change the words to suit my mood– I am everything he wants, I say all the right things, I mean nothing to him and I don’t know why… And I wonder, Why is it so hard to be 12? Why doesn’t anyone understand me? Why won’t the boys talk to me? I sigh aloud. I can’t wait to grow-up.

58

Song: Hands Down (Acoustic Version)
Artist: Dashboard Confessional
Age at time of Song Memory : 18
Current Age: 20

Song Memory: “Breathe in for luck, breathe in so deep.” It was the summer after my high school graduation and I vowed to make it the best summer of my life. I had gotten close to a friend of mine at the end of the school year and we had planned to spend time together before we were off to college. I spent time with my family and even hung out with other friends but nothing could compare to spending time with my friend Michael. I never saw him as more than a friend until one day I hung out at his house talking and laughing until he grabbed my iPod and played whatever came up on shuffle, it was Hands Down. “This air is blessed, you share with me. This night is wild, so calm and dull, these hearts they race from self control. Your legs are smooth, as they graze mine, we’re doing fine, we’re doing nothing at all.” The song had perfectly described what I was feeling at the moment and as we listened to the comfort of the acoustic guitar in the background the room felt silent and he told me that he had a crush on me. “My hopes are so high, that your kiss might kill me. So won’t you kill me, so I die happy.” As he leaned in to kiss me, I felt a rush of uncertainty as I turned my cheek and said I had to go. The disappointment on his face was etched in my mind for the rest of the summer as I replayed the scene over and over in my head wishing I had the courage to kiss him back. I continued to play the song each night before I went to bed until one night I realized that I really did like him back. But, my shyness masked my feelings and I never had a chance to tell him how I felt that summer. It was the beginning of college and I found myself lost in my first weeks at New Paltz. I continued to hear Hands Down each night to comfort me and remind me of home and my friend and it turned out to be a song that my roommate and I bonded over.

Fast forward several months, relationships and break ups with other people (both he and I) to the summer of 2012 where I found myself hanging out at my friend’s house again. Was this deja vu? Had I come across a second chance? “Hands down this is the best day I can ever remember, I’ll always remember the sound of the stereo the dim of the soft lights, the scent of your hair that you twirled in your fingers and the time on the clock when we realized it’s so late and this walk that we shared together. The streets were wet and the gate was locked so I jumped it, and I let you in. And you stood at your door with your hands on my waist and you kissed me like you meant it.” The lyrics had aligned with reality so perfectly and he kissed me and I had kissed him back with no fear. It was that day that I fell in love with my best friend. It’s been months since then and we are great friends but I still have not brought up the courage to tell him how I really feel about him in fear that he wouldn’t want more than just what we have. Whenever I’m feeling down, I just play Hands Down and my heart goes back to that first summer, to that first week in New Paltz and becoming friends with my roommate due to our similar taste in music, and to that last summer where everything changed. And when I am ready to finally tell him that I love him and always have for all this time I will play that song in the background, close my eyes, and hope for the best. “And I knew that you meant it, that you meant it, that you meant it, and I knew, that you meant it…that you meant it…”

57

Song: Only in Dreams
Artist: Weezer
Memory Age: 19
Current Age: 32

I was 19, and just out of a rebound relationship following a much longer “1st love” relationship. The rebound was a total jerk, and I wasn’t really wanting to get involved with anyone else at the moment. I was also having to drop out of the college I was attending at the time, had lost my wallet with a lot of money and personal info in it… just a shitty time in general. I was fairly depressed.

I was working part time at the local mall, and randomly started to hang out with an old acquaintance. He started visiting me up at school, spending almost every day with me during the month following the jerk/rebound breakup episode. I wasn’t thinking about a serious relationship at all, but flirting wasn’t off limits, either.

My friend was charming and very sweet. He was very funny and great in conversation. We spent many nights and early mornings in my dorm room talking about everything, smoking several packs of cigarettes like chimneys, sharing bags of potato chips with cans of horrible French Onion Dip while music videos played in the background on MTV2… but I just wasn’t ready to get into another relationship. Nothing serious, anyway.

We continued to hang out a lot. He asked me to “go steady” a few times, and I repeatedly expressed my nervousness about serious commitment. But we kept hanging out. Kept talking from dusk until dawn. Until one day in December – we were hanging out in my bedroom at home. I had already left college (he had helped me pack up and move like the wonderful guy he was). We were laying on my double brass bed, ugly pink rose comforter underneath us, my light lavender walls plastered with magazine clippings, my parents’ cats visiting us periodically. My stereo was sitting on an old wooden toy chest with little Dutch or possibly German looking geometric illustrations of a boy and girl painted faintly on it. We listened to several albums that night, I think… but the one that I remember was Weezer’s Blue album. At some point, it ended up being played on repeat, and, in general, became background noise. And we talked, and talked, and talked…

And then it happened – he finally melted the wall of uncertainty I had built up from my crappy relationship experiences. We laid together on my bed in the ambient blue light of dawn, kissing and taking in each other’s body features, and made things between us “official”. Everything was crystalized and glistening outside from the previous evening’s snow-rain which had turned to ice. And “Only in Dreams” was playing.

It never fails – this song brings it all back for me. And we’ve been together ever since.

 

56

Song: Understatement
Artist: New Found Glory
Memory age: 13
Current age: 23

Eighth grade. 2003. I’ve just started to come out of my shell, and have emerged wearing fishnets with short, bleached blonde hair. I’ve recently started the tie-wearing trend at school. I have a following of about four, mostly fellow nerds. My parents have an empty rental house in the city, so I’ve decided to have a party. We spend the day playing pool and tetherball, piling everyone onto a hammock, rollerblading, and jamming out to music. Our tunes of choice? Anything by Good Charlotte, New Found Glory, or Avril Lavigne. What? It’s the eighth grade– everything sucks and we’re full of teen angst.

55

Song Title: Ironic
Artist: Alanis Morisette
Age at time of Song Memory : 6
Current Age: 21

Song Memory: When I was in kindergarten I got my hands on a cassette with Ironic on it, fell in love immediately and for some unknown reason my mother let me, at age 6, then buy the CD, Jagged Little Pill, that it was from. Recently I’ve made a connection with my angst towards men and this purchase early in my life, but that’s besides the point. At the same time that I had my obsession with this song my aunt was getting ready for her wedding that I was going to be the flower girl in. Since the one line is “it’s like rain on your wedding day” I thought it would be awesome if it rained when she got married. It didn’t rain and it was a beautiful wedding in December and I can remember a lot of red, green, sparkles and of course a massive cake. During her reception she had the DJ play Ironic while she walked me and her daughter, the other flower girl, out onto the dance floor and we held hands and danced in a circle while everyone else stayed at their table and watched. It seemed so glamorous at the time, being with my aunt dressed like a princess in her white gown, wearing the emerald colored velvet dress that my mom made for me with my hair all done up in curls to match my aunts.

54

Song: Pour Some Sugar on Me
Artist: Def Leppard
Current Age: 39

I remember sitting in the back of a car in high school- partying.. havin fun- breaking rules- but taking everything I can absorb artistically as a person, my wit, riding in my car acting like I intended on going to class, bobbin my head to a band that made us dance- the good ol days where our parents took care of financing our social lives- to have a movie- coyote ugly- to have my life revolve from feelings in high school i wasnt able to act on- to hear that same song watchin hot bartenders dance on a bar- to even taking one of them home.. to finally feel comfort in what gets me goin:).. I hear the song now.. n it just makes me giggle on how far ive come and what this life has shown me.

 

53

Song: Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)
Artist: Shakira
Memory age: 21
Current age: 23

The summer of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Coincidentally, the same summer that I study abroad in Tanzania. Living anywhere on the African continent this summer means lots of late nights at sports bars. Everyone is alive with excitement. This song comes on at least once every time we go out dancing. And it’s always immediately followed by K’naan’s “Wavin’ Flag”– no surprise there. One day I take a walk through my village with Kibibi. She works as house help for my host parents, but she dreams of leaving it all behind. She wants to move to the next big city over to find a real job and to finish school. Kibibi doesn’t speak any English, but her Swahili is slow and easy for me to understand. She loves Shakira’s new song. It is her anthem. She doesn’t own the whole thing, but she has the ringtone on her phone. So as we make the long trek back to our house, up the endless red dirt road, she plays it on repeat. And we dance and laugh and dream about the future

52

Song Title: Boyfriend
Artist: Best Coast
Age at time of Song Memory : 18
Current Age: 19

Song Memory: This song brings a tear each time it plays because it reminded me of my first relationship as a boy in the closet. My boyfriend was also in denial of his sexuality at the time and the frustration of wondering if he was gay drove me crazy. I had a feeling of guilt in my conscious, like I was required to follow the ‘normal’ rules of society. That feeling of not being able to sleep at night only led us to texting and talking during the night hours. I’ve got many vibes from him, but I was still confused because he had provided me with several stories about his ex-girlfriends. I was hesitant of jumping into this relationship because I wasn’t ready for the public reactions of other people. Eventually, we both opened up and one day I told him how I felt. After being pushed away a few times, we got into a relationship and things started moving quite fast. As a favor to him and I, I came out to my mother during this time, yet she is still in denial and is not accepting of my sexuality. We are not together for various reasons, but these memories are preserved through this song.

51

Song Title: Konstantine
Artist: Something Corporate
Age at time of Song Memory : 17-19
Current Age: 26

Song Memory:

11:11

Not a bad time eh? Reflecting on this song’s lyrics now, I realize it’s all a bit trite, and probably lacks musical depth.  But the fact that I still reflect on this song from time to time by texting the time 11:11 to one of my best friends by proxy makes it an important song to me.  At 17, you tend not to care if a song is trite, or the lyrics are juvenile, or about really any of that stuff.  When I was 17, 18, 19 (which was when this song was on repeat in my life), I cared about staying up late at Dunkin Donuts with my friends, I cared about driving around my town with my friends, I cared about falling in love for the first time, I cared about being kissed, and laughing, and drinking too much, and staying out too late.  Oh yeah, I cared about good grades.  I was one of those.  Anyway, I remember singing along with this song with my headphones on in the kitchen on hot summer nights while I chatted away with my friends on AIM chat rooms, we would always mark the moment 11:11 came by just simply typing the time.  It was a code, for what I still can’t quite explain, but a code nonetheless, perhaps just a reminder that we were not alone.

To this day I still text the time 11:11 when we “catch” it to one of my good friends who lives way too far from me.  It brings me back to when my life and world were safe and small.  Before bills, and kids, and a house, and the stress I’m currently under.  It brings me back to when one of my biggest worries was that our favorite CD was scratched, or that we couldn’t find people to buy us beer.  The song keeps me young, and the emotion in the music brings me back to when everything I felt was so heightened, as it can only be at 17.

It brings me back to the first time I fell really hard for someone.  The memories which I will not share on this forum, are memories which still echo in my soul, when I close my eyes at night, the thoughts of being with this person still reverberate cruelly upon my consciousness.  He and I shared this song, and each other for only a short time.  This song will forever bring me back to those high highs, and those low lows.  The memory reminds me of the taste of cherry chapstick, and green eyes in the late afternoon.  It reminds me of my youth, for that I will always be indebted.

50

Song Title: VCR
Artist: The xx
Age at time of Song Memory : 21
Current Age: 24

Song Memory: The fall of my senior year of college I spent a lot of time driving around town in a cornflower blue Kia Sedona.  Years of cookie crumbs and spilled apple juice had seeped into the cushions, giving the minivan the sweet musk of children.  The Sedona belonged to the family of my then long-term girlfriend, a caramel-skinned Muslim girl whose parents vehemently opposed our relationship.  The love sparked on some dead leaves at the end of our freshman year and proceeded to rage on like a wildfire for the next three years, and I lived in constant fear of her father driving up from Fairfax to rip her hand out of mine and take her away forever.  Of course, nothing burns as bright as something you expect to lose at any moment, and so our love burned bright blue.

That fall The xx released their self-titled debut to critical acclaim, and it played on constant repeat in our car as we drove to and from friends’ places and to each other’s.  The spartan arrangements and male/female duet evoked the melancholic sense of isolation that always accompanies life-changing relationships.  No music could more perfectly mirror my own feelings on the two people sitting in that car driving home at 2 am on the barren streets of Newark, Delware, stopped at a red light and in no rush to get to where we were going.  The music says to itself, “I have no one but you, and something tells me you will not always be here.  And what will I do then?”   Which is precisely the question I asked myself.

Now when I hear songs like “VCR” or “Islands” I’m transported back to driving in that Kia Sedona in the dead of night.  Finding it impossible to tear ourselves from these songs midway, we often sat in the car in her driveway until they finished.  And often much longer than that, to be together in that safe space that smelled of animal crackers, where The xx had just described our present and foretold our future.  In the memory it’s dark out except for the street lights streaming like beacons from afar.  For some reason I only remember them as red, always red.

49

Song Title: The Great Pretender
Artist: The Platters
Age at time of Song Memory : 9
Current Age: 65

Song Memory: The first time I heard this song I was about 9 years old. I was with my mother and a group of moms and kids. I was taken to a film that the moms obviously wanted to see. I recall not looking forward to the movie I was seeing but rather excited to experience a movie. The song was preformed as part of a recording session that fit into the plot of the movie. But as soon as I heard the song I was catapulted from childhood and the society of moms and children into a new group of teenagers beginning to enter their adolescence. All at once, I was introduced to a new world of rock & roll and everything that meant. I knew I was leaving the world of my parent’s music behind and entering a secret society that would belong to me and my contemporaries. The music was completely different and swept me along as if on a journey to adolescence. It was the first of a coming of age experience. I identified it as being something different and magical. It was just for me. I remembered it my whole life.

48

Song: C’est la Vie
Artist: B*Witched
Age at time of song memory: 9
Current age: 23

Suddenly it’s 1998. I’m in the 4th grade and spending as much time as I can at my BFF’s house– she has a pool in her neighborhood. When I spend the night there we watch Gremlins and scream when her little brothers sneak into the room to scare us. We spend our day hanging out in her room which is filled to the brim with Beanie Babies. She has a whole shelf dedicated to them. There must be at least a hundred. And she chastises me when I inform her that she’s forgotten to take the tags off of her toys. But it doesn’t matter because I’ve just discovered– and decided to become obsessed with– my first pop band. I saw them performing on the Disney Channel; obviously they’re awesome. So we learn all the words and choreograph a dance that uses hairbrush microphones and bean-filled flamingos and harbor seals as back-up dancers. And when we’re finished the crowd goes wild and we run off to go play Marco Polo at the pool.

47

Song Title: Smooth
Artist: Santana feat. Rob Thomas
Age at time of Song Memory : 17
Current Age: 32

Song Memory: This song brings me back to my first day of my freshman year of college (17 years old). I’d driven a couple hours with my family to move into my dorm earlier that day. The drive up really felt like one era of my life was ending and another was beginning. I had absolutely no idea what to expect and I was nervous, anxious, excited… all of the feelings that come with starting a new adventure. I was supposed to share a room with another girl, and well, I’m not so great at meeting new people, so I was really nervous about meeting her and how I’d live with someone I didn’t know until June. What if we had nothing in common? What if we ended up hating each other?

We finally arrived and I met my roommate. She stared at me wide-eyed and introduced herself. She seemed nervous too. My parents and I unloaded all of my stuff into my new room and then went off to their hotel, leaving me alone to unpack with my roomie. It was awkward. Neither of us knew what to say to the other after we’d talked about the usual getting-to-know-you stuff. After a while my roommate suggested we listen to some music. She put on what was then the newest song by Santana: “Smooth” featuring Rob Thomas. We  listened to that song a couple of times as we unpacked our stuff and set up our new college lives. All through the song there was this sense that we were both in this new adventure together even though we were unpacking side by side in silence.

And today my college roommate is my best friend. “Smooth” will always be “our song” and reminds me that that feeling of nervous, anxious excitement is often an indication that something really great is about to happen!