A couple years ago I wrote this: http://ceri1341.edublogs.org/?s=musical+journeys
A few weeks ago I asked my boyfriend what songs reminded him of high school and kinda got obsessed with the answer (frankly, seeing into the past of someone you love is kind of amazing).
So I found the old blog post and expanded it. Have at it.
Tribute to Love and Music
I remember thinking it was stupid and silly for a couple to say, “We have a song. This is our song. You can’t play our song unless we’re dancing to it or singing along with it.”
Then I had a boyfriend, and that boyfriend said, “We should have a song.”
Because he had blue eyes and was smiling, I said, “Okay. Like what?”
He said, “I was thinking ‘The Bird and the Worm’ by Owl City.”
I said, “Okay, but you’re the bird.”
He said, “No, you’re the bird, because remember? You’re the insane bird.”
He was on the debate team. I was stubborn. We never agreed who was which.
But I liked it. I enjoyed the fact that we had a song and it was our song and even though we never once sang or danced to it together, it was still our song. And after we broke up, when my iPod played it on a forsaken highway somewhere in North Dakota, on a July day that rolled by like a river, a highway, a summer, I was crying by the first chorus.
We did once sing Owl City’s “Fireflies” in the school hallways on the last day before Christmas break.
I went to Seattle with my high school choir and sang “You and Me” by Lifehouse on the top of the Space Needle. I haven’t sung Lifehouse since, but I have been back to the Space Needle.
There’s a cheesy Swedish love ballad we sing at a summer camp I’ve both attended and worked at, and it’s meant many different things over the years. When I was a kid, it was ‘the slow dance song’ and the only parts of the lyrics I understood were the ‘ba-ba-badadas.’ After my summer as a junior counselor, I finally looked up the lyrics, which speak of unconditional love, swallowing your pride when being right would cost you a relationship, about being able to overcome everything ‘so long as we have each other.’ I listened to it all winter to warm my distance-lonely heart in the hopes of a relationship that never happened. These days, it reminds me that unconditional love means many things.
I was a fourteen-year-old girl in a relationship when Taylor Swift’s music was directed at fourteen-year-old girls in relationships. Enough said, I think.
I danced with my family to Billy Joel in the kitchen on Sunday mornings while we made pancakes. I listened to Easy Money in the car with my dad at the age of nine on our way to a backpacking trip; I had no idea it would become one of my favorite albums when I was a teenager. (Still is.) I hummed ‘This Night’ from the same album under my breath against the song playing while I danced with a yearlong crush at my junior prom. I quote ‘Vienna’ whenever anyone I know has a quarter-life crisis. ‘And So It Goes’ became the theme song to my senior year of high school: the choir sang it in the fall and at graduation, I spontaneously and secretively played and sang it in a talent show, the guy I dated set it as my ringtone on his phone. A year later, I lay in my dorm room with a guy I wasn’t dating as it played from my iPod. He said it was too much pressure and asked if we could just be friends.
I listened to Harry Connick, Jr.’s ‘She Belongs to Me’ on a bus after a breakup and somehow it was healing.
When I finally learned to drive, all I listened to in my car was jazz. Ella Fitzgerald – I’d sing Ella with my little sister, driving her home from piano on winter nights. Duke Ellington, Wynton Marsalis, Count Basie. Bob James is still my favorite pianist. I loved Manhattan Transfer even if a guy I dated told me they weren’t really jazz artists (what did he know? even Wikipedia confirms they sing jazz music) and when my parents play it in the car, I still sing. Once I even spent an afternoon at home alone standing in the living room trying to master ‘Operator.’ In the jazz band we did a song in 5/4 time that I still remember as one of the catchiest tunes I ever knew. (Joining band after four years of choir meant suddenly not being able to sing the tunes that were stuck in your head.) In choir I was first introduced to ‘Fly Me to the Moon,’ and my love for Nat King Cole came out of other songs we did in band – who doesn’t love ‘Orange Colored Sky’?
The first two months of my freshman year of college, I listened to Avicii’s ‘Wake Me Up’ at least six thousand times. I can still half-mimic the British radio announcer introducing the premiere on the YouTube video I liked best.
I remember hearing ‘American Pie’ many years before I went to college, but it was not until college that I discovered the entire Best of Don McLean album. I memorized ‘American Pie.’ I tried to derive courage from ‘Everyday.’ I thought of ‘Winterwood’ when a boy from high school asked to sleep with me. I tried to memorize ‘Vincent’ for the sheer beauty of it and sang it on my solitary sunset walks, and even though it was April the air still bit with cold. ‘And I Love You So’ gave me visions of the great and terrible love I wanted to find. I still get shivers when I sing ‘Castles in the Air’ and think of that terrified, brave, budding spring.
When I studied a year in Sweden, Billy Joel played on the radio during a pancake party, and I discovered a Mary Chapin Carpenter ballad called ‘The Dreaming Road’ that made me want to write again.
In the spring of my sophomore year at college, I drove myself back and forth from home to school for the first (second, third, fourth…) time. I sang. Long, ballady songs to keep me awake. ‘Sonny,’ the story of a boy whose lonely mother holds him to a life much less than what he dreams of (originally Ron Hynes, I combined his version with Hayley Westenra’s). ‘Heroes and Heroines,’ an introspective survey of the chasing of dreams through time and space (Mary Chapin Carpenter). Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ and Molly Sanden’s Swedish translation (which, back-translated, is a beautiful work of its own). And the song my dad sang to me in my crib and which I rediscovered as a young adolescent and hung the lyrics above my bed, and which still gives me a window into my father and myself, ‘Night Rider’s Lament’ as performed by Chris LeDoux – no other song fits better to a prairie drive in the twilight.
And I played Ludovico Einaudi for my soulmate before I knew he would be.