I was walking home last night- the air warm and finally comfortable, with my iPod buds snugly in my ears as a shuffle of whatever is on there played. All of the sudden on comes “Anna Begins” by The Counting Crowes, an old favorite of mine I never listen to anymore. As I listened to it I started getting choked up. Perhaps it’s because it’s been an emotional week, or perhaps it’s because so much life is lived in a song. You know what I mean? When a song that was crucial to a moment in your life is played in the present, all sorts of things come flooding back. For me, I can hear a song and am practically taken back to the experience I was having when I first fell in love with it- pain, happiness, humor, love, insanity, what have you. It’s a visceral experience really, and I think it’s a fascinating one because not many other things cause that kind of emotional tap in me. I am very much the kind of person who plays music as an antidote to a mood- or to create or embrace a mood. I dig music of the “head in the oven” variety in which it’s all longing, down tempo and moody for when I’m feeling pensive but am also one heck of a hip hop fanatic when I’m needing a lift, working up a sweat or getting ready to hit the town. The dichotomy of styles explains me, as a person, perfectly.
So I thought back through my entire life and put together a playlist of songs that remind me of very specific moments in time- from sitting in my Laura Ashley smothered room as an awkward middle schooler to my first love and first heartbreak. It’s an interesting and really fun experience- I suggest you try it.
I wont go through the meaning behind ALL 61 songs, but here are some:
Billie Jean- Michael Jackson: My mom said she remembers the exact moment this song came on for the first time on the radio. I was 2 and apparently I LOVED to “dance” to MJ’s earliest hits (and Prince).
Walk Like an Egyptian- The Bangles: This song reminds me of jelly bracelets, puffy paint, stirrup pants, bad perms, buck teeth and general awkwardness.
Hands to Heaven- Breathe: This one is a doozy for me- totally reminds of never once being asked to dance at any of my middle school dances but watching my friends get asked. :(
I’ve Had the Time of My Life: Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes: Hello Dirty Dancing. The first PG-13 movie I ever saw and I watched it like 100 times. I was obsessed with Patrick Swayze and learning the “lift”. See also: “She’s Like the Wind”. I’m pretty sure I sang that one into the mirror a lot.
Only In My Dreams- Debbie Gibson: I was her biggest fan, I think. I even wore that stupid black hat she did and bought her perfume “Electric Youth”. She was my first concert and I’ll never forget walking into my bedroom on my birthday and seeing concert tickets taped to my poster of her, complete with a speech bubble my dad drew next to her face saying “See you soon, Erin!” I nearly had a cerebral hemorrhage. Also during this time my friend Anya and I made up a killer dance routine to Tiffany’s “I Think We’re Alone Now”
Bust A Move- Young MC: I remember sitting in my room listening to my purple radio with my finger hovered over the “tape record” button waiting for this bad boy to come on. My introduction to hip hop- which I totally love.
Vogue-Madonna: I think there is a Madonna song for every stage of my life. This one was the BEST.
Take My Breath Away- Berlin:This song reminds me of my first love. And Tom Cruise playing volleyball.
O.P.P.- Naughty by Nature: When I took hip hop dance classes (not kidding) our routine was to this song. I am really, really glad no video exists of such despicable acts. But I still listen to this song all the time when working out (and can do a mean running man!)
Summertime- DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince: One of the best songs EVER. I immediately think of driving in my navy Jeep Wrangler my parent’s suprised me with for high school graduation. Happy as a clam.
Freshman- The Verve Pipe: For some reason I specifically associate a field trip to Boston while at boarding school with this song. I loved how melancholy it was. I was feeling misunderstood at the time I think.
Let Me Clear My Throat- DJ Kool: Senior prom. The first one Miss Porter’s ever had thanks to my best friend Nancy. This song reminds me of that night, my ridiculous date and hairdo and Nancy and I “misbehaving” (which by normal high school standards would not be considered misbehaving- all girl’s school is a different entity entirely).
Cryin’- Aerosmith and Ascension- Maxwell: Totally songs that I associate with my first long term relationship in college. This is what regret sounds like.
Crash Into Me- Dave Matthews: I’ve been to about 8 or 9 DMB shows in my life- summertime sitting on the lawn at Meadows in Hartford jammin’ to good ol’ Dave. This song will always be my favorite.
Mo’ Money Mo’ Problems- Notorious BIG and Puffy: Dancing with my best friends in college at “TNE’s”… and not realizing how young and lucky we were.
Freebird- Lynard Skynard: I went to a Lynard Skynard concert in college. Why? Because I was downright obsessed with Freebird a few decades late. Lighters up.
I’m A Slave 2 U- Britney Spears– Continuing my embarrassing concert attendances- my best friend and first post-college roommate and I decided last minute to go see Britney at the Fleet Center. We scalped tickets, bought t-shirts (put them on immediately) and double-fisted Miller Lites and sat in the very last row with a bunch of 14 years old and their moms.
Like I Love You- JT: Does this really need an explanation? I didn’t think so. It’s JT.
Copa Cabana- Barry Manilow: This came on in Andrew’s car on one of our first dates and I was HORRIFIED. He said he loved that song. I said I don’t think I can date you.
What a Wonderful World- Louis Armstrong: ….and then I married him anyways, despite his hideous music. And danced to this song with my Dad as I sobbed my eyes out in front of everyone (who were also sobbing, if you heard his speech you would have too- it involves the “Hands to Heaven” explanation above)
Fix You- Coldplay: The first time hearing a song live gave me goosebumps and made me cry (and I am NOT a crier, despite the many mentions of doing so on this list). I went to their Viva la Vida tour show three times last year.
Wrong Prayer- Jaydiohead: Hold the phone- Jay Z and Radiohead together??? Too good to be true for a girl like me.
Sia-Breathe Me: It’s between”Fix You” and this song as my all time favorite. I can’t get enough of it and it’s very much a song that will forever remind me of this moment in time right now and those people in it.