Friday, May 7, 2010
The Soundtrack of My Life
I love how memories show up, carried by the current of a particular smell or the notes of an old song. Old Spice will forever remind me of my PaPa, and will probably always make me cry. The way a song can transport me immediately back to one very specific moment in time is something I treasure, even when the memory is heavy and sad. Feeling that moment again, reliving it for a moment makes me feel connected to the past, and whereas I believe in the importance of closure and moving on, I also believe very much that the difficult times are just as shaping to who we become as the precious. Forgiveness and growth are necessary, but who's to say we should strive to forget those things we survive in our lifetime just because they once caused us pain? I've come to understand the necessity of pain; there can be no balance in life without something to counter the good. But I've also come to embrace my past for what it is, mine. It is my own, personal history, complete with crazy highs and numbing lows, and I wouldn't be who I am right now had it been any other way. Nobody would. Would I change a detail here or there, maybe. But I can't, and that's okay because I've learned from every disappointment and every scar I carry, and for that, it seems worth it. It's not so bad being reminded of things when they no longer have the power to control how I think about certain things and certain people, and how I feel about myself and the world, but it's also nice to allow myself to feel them for a moment. This awareness and freedom of feeling without fear of being possessed by it comes in handy sometimes when I'm writing, and I'm trying to achieve a particular tone. I have to feel a little bit of what I write, and music is very helpful.
The power music has to manipulate my mood amazes me. Sometimes I put together a song list that keeps me in the right kind of mood for a certain piece. Sometimes I listen to a certain song over and over to pull myself back into a feeling that will serve what I'm writing well. Don't get me wrong, it's not all negative; quite the contrary. There's almost a song for any emotion I need to experience to give a piece a deeper sense of authenticity, a genuine feeling of truth, and I like that.
This is a short list of songs and why they inspire in me something more meaningful than a simple sing-along. They are my memories.
SWV - "Weak"
Middle school, circa 7th grade. Lizz, BJ, Crystal, and me. Lessons on the school bus about things I still wouldn't really understand for a few more years, and morning rituals with my best friend that included reading silly letters backwards over "cheesy" cokes. Makes me feel warm.
Abba - "Dancing Queen"
Christina Leon, third year of college, and 80's Nights at the clubs. I was being wooed by Feminism for the first time and she kind of embodied what I was interested in learning more about. Our dogs were friends, and so were we for a while. A friendship that ended a little sourly, but I got another great friend out of knowing her. Katie.
Nine Days - "Absolutely (Story of a Girl)"
First year of college, living in the dorm with two roommates. My first time downloading music, when Napster was new and we all spent too much time sitting at our desks in front of our computers, chatting online with someone across the hall. I can actually recall how it felt to understand so little about myself.
Weezer - "Across the Sea"
High school. The niece of a woman for whom I babysat was visiting and she and I hung out. Party at which she ended up hooking up with a boy I secretly liked, a boy I would end up with later. Jealousy. Her aunt didn't know she smoked when we were out having coffee at Jeff's Desserts downtown. We listened to a lot of Weezer in my car, singing loudly. Fun. Her name was Liz and I should have kept in touch with her.
Aerosmith - "Crazy"
The summer before I began high school, Winter Park visiting my childhood friend, Kasey, and joining in with the Child Evangelist Ministry she was a part of for a couple weeks. It's funny, my memories of that time have very little to do with God and very much to do with boys. Riding with Ray to the beach and getting in trouble for cursing, something the leaders blamed on my public schooling.
All 4 One - "So in Love"
Same summer. Phillip held both our hands, Kasey and mine, in the backseat, and had I been less naive, he would have kissed me my last night there. He'd walked out to tell me my mom was there for me and walked me back across the field where all of us were running around. He held my hand as we walked and my heart was pounding the whole way. The pastor who ran the group had a 6" rule to keep hormones under control, but it was dark and no one would have known. How was I so dense? Lost opportunity.
Janet Jackson - "Again"
Jaclyn's house, across the street from where I grew up. She found her older brother's secret stash of porn, hidden in a secret (and locking) compartment beneath his water bed, and we received our first, unofficial lesson on sex of the raunchiest kind. Hustler. I think this was also around the 7th grade.
Alanis Morrissette - "Head Over Feet"
Tenth grade. Brian, best friend turned boyfriend for a short time. I'll always miss that friendship a little.
Anastacia - "Sick and Tired"
When we first moved to Italy and living in a hotel, this song was on the radio all the time. It makes me feel like a foreigner in a strange place all over again. It also reminds me of Tirrenia, the little beach town where we lived for a couple years.
Ani DiFranco - "Fuel"
Driving between home and college many weekends between 1999 and 2002. I-75 and the Howard Franklin Bridge. Home.
Billy Joel - "Lullaby (Goodnight My Angel)"
My second year of college in my first apartment. Listening to this song I experienced for the first time a moment of wanting to someday be a mom. I decided I would sing this lullaby to my child, and wrote the lyrics on the back of one page in a little banana leaf photo album.
The Beach Boys - "Surfin' USA"
Orlando early memories, listening to The Beach Boys in the car. Visiting Grandma Keith in Birmingham. First grade and Mrs. Pierce's class, show-and-tell and Mrs. Pierce laughing at the line, "Tell the teacher we're surfin', surfin' USA." I was such the teacher's pet.
Billy Joel - "Piano Man"
John's Pass, Redington Beach, and Matt. We sat outside a billiards hall and listened to this over the speakers. It brings back a slight twinge of nerves and not knowing if the unspoken feelings would ever come out. But even connecting him with this song doesn't ruin it's group singability in a bar, or anywhere else.
Black Eyed Peas - "My Humps"
Kelly's wedding, or rather, partying downtown Orlando afterwards with all Kelly and Brian's friends. Dancing with Chad, who had been accidentally outed during the reception, to this song and being happy to be visiting home for the first time since Chris and I moved overseas.
Corinne Bailey Rae - "Put Your Records On"
My first job working with special needs kids in Livorno, Italy, with Lisa. I burned her this CD for her and we listened to it often when it was just us in the classroom working.
Tiffany - "Could've Been"
Singing (loudly) in my bedroom as a child while my dad hosted a Boy Scouts meeting in the living room. Emerging to get my dinner and being completely humiliated when a cute boy told me how pretty my voice was in front of everyone.
Masta P - "Make Em Say Uh"
High school and Chris L., and all the other white boys who tried to act thug. For some reason, Taco Bell, and driving around with my friend, Rose.
The Wallflowers - "One Headlight"
This song came out when we were first friends, and I remember listening to the words at the time and having a sense that they would somehow be true. I was right in a way a year later.
Reading over this I realize it may not all make sense to people who are not me, but this is what came out tonight. I deleted many that simply inspired memories only meaningful to me because I experienced them. I could go on forever.
Thanks, Chris, for the idea tonight. It was fun to write.