Do the Music Gods ever surprise you with their omniscience at 1am? You know, when you’ve had background music on for the previous 3 hours and all of a sudden you tune into one specific part of a song that feels like... a turning point. I don’t mean a dramatic turning point in your life’s direction (all though, it could very well be), rather I’m referring to a change of perspective in the present moment.
Sometimes, that background library of over 5000 indie rock tunes will regurgitate one single lyric or sound that reflects your life profoundly. Your heart’s energy sends out these waves of emotion that fire up one little song to fight through the hoards of other melodies to your ears. When ear and song unite, you experience an initial rush and overwhelming connection with the world. Everything falls into place. But more than enjoyment, you become awakened in the moment and are given some sort of direction as to how your mood can be improved or where you should go next.
That Pride and Prejudice book fucked me up.
It’s written with such grace and romantic swagger that I couldn’t resist being swept away...that was until Karen O told me that “love is wrong, it never lasts and that this is no, there is no modern romance.” She proceeded to explain that “time, time is gone.”
Well Karen O, on a night like this, lines like that actually improve my mood.
I’m not sure what it is about “the sound of loneliness that makes me happier?”
Maybe I’m an old-school emo kid through and through, but Bright Eyes how you have reassured me over these last 4.5 years. I’ve probably listened to the saddest song of all time (POISON OAK) more times than any other song in my life (apart from “Taste of Ink”...which was a pivotal moment in my history as well as emo’s history.)
Poison Oak has been there at soooooo many different points in my life. My highest highs and lowest lows have been shared with that single song.
Jenelle and I listen to “I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning” every time we return from concerts or festivals (aka the best experiences of our lives). We listen to it driving in the rain to a campground, or whenever we want the world to stop spinning so fast. The whole album brings such transcendence that you can’t help finding peace.
It was Poison Oak that played as my head fell against the headrest and I contently drifted to sleep while driving home from seeing Underoath and TBS play in Vancouver in 2007.
One time a great guy from a band called ThisDayYesterday covered this song at The Loft when it first opened. I was there with a bunch of my greatest friends...and people I didn’t know at the time would become my greatest friends. It was the first time I’d heard anyone play this song live.
Then there was that time I shook a banana shaker outside the Pavillion Theatre while that guy played Poison Oa in the parking lot after a Counting Heartbeats show. This turned into a slew of covers at Kym’s house that sparked Christine to finally learn all the lyrics. There were many drunken nights with all sorts of special people just trying to make the most out of this one life, this song in the background being strummed on a stickered acoustic.
Even on a month long road trip, I fell asleep with this fricken song playing in my headphones to drone out the bus engine and give me a taste of home and self-assurance through uncertainty and angst.
The song that carried me from being a 15 year-old girl discovering the finest lyricist, was still with me during first year university. The only true times I missed home, was when that song came on shuffle.
One of my dearest friends and I were having a very rare shitty day, you know, when you don’t really have any reason to be upset, but you feel like that anyway. So both of us girls stayed in that Friday night talking and we sat on her bedspread (lights off) and listened to Poison Oak off of YouTube. Trust me, I realize how cliché that setting appears; but, I must assure you, it was genuine. It was her first time ever hearing the song and when she requested a tragic one, I don’t think she knew what she was getting herself into. On repeat, that song brought her to tears as I witnessed her move through the array of emotions that it forces one to experience. After, we both felt the weight of life removed as though Oberst was bearing our problems for us, or maybe showing us that things aren’t that bad. We stopped moping, invited our friends over, had a dance party in my room and called ‘er a night. Thanks Connor.
What I’m trying to say, is my memory is preserved in song. Moments of pure joy and release from worldly pressure usually comes at times when people are connected by music. There are still many times I can hear a song by, say Boyz II Men, and once again I’m 9 and sitting in the back of my Dad’s truck in Alberta after my older sister announced her engagement. Whether that playlist is on my walkman, CD player, iPod or radio, it’s those songs that bring me life, faith and creative appreciation. For the only time I achieve true clarity is when I observe the world with some sort of soundtrack playing to my life.
Like Penny Lane says in Almost Famous, “if I ever get lonely, I just go to the record store and visit my friends.”
p.s. I listened to Poison Oak 11 times during that entry.
As a little experiment, here are the memories attached to the next 20 songs on my iTunes shuffle:
Piano Man – Billy Joel
Grad 08's spontaneous ring during commencements while Dustin played the song.
Slow Dance on the Inside-TBS
Walking home from the bus in grade 10...it took exactly the length of that song
Harder Better Faster Stronger- Daft Punk
Patrick’s old obsession with Daft Punk.
Banana Pancakes – Jack Johnson
Amanda loves this song! She also made delicious breakfasts after our sleepovers!
Part One – Band of Horses
Ben Pringle showing me this band; my yoga mat in my dorm room
Float On- Modest Mouse
ONE OF MY FAVOURITES. Wow, let’s say it's landed on many playlists since grade 10; Sheldon’s living room the other night; seeing a girl with the “Float On” tattoo, similar to the one I want; being jealous it was Grad 07’s song; going on runs down Lamar Street as the sun came up; driving to school in the morning; Tim Horton’s drive thrus; summer heat; trippy music videos at 3 am in JC 208
Rock Ranger Record – Matt Mayes
ZOE!!!!; parties in Wilson; trying to complete writing assignment late at night to Terminal Romance; thinking it sounds like the way I want to live!
English House – Fleet Foxes
Audrey’s room and iPod adapter; going to yoga in the sunset; returning from hot yoga at night on the bus; SASQUATCH!
Hahaha...my friends know how I feel about this one. No comment J <3
Beating Heart Baby- Head Automatica
Ryan Baker showing me this song...and his HA hoodie; that time Jenelle, Matt and I took the bus from BHV to downtown when it was pouring rain and we had a mini dance party in the back; every other time Jenelle and I talked about that one time on the bus (including when she drove me home from the jam space last night!)
December 8, 1980 – The Rebel Spell
The first time I heard this song was in Sahali when I was 14/15; The best time I heard this song was with a bunch of punk kids at the Miracle Centre when Raised by wolves and Soundcity also played!; then again in 2009 in Victoria at Camas Books with a bunch of strangers who also loved it; fists pumpling; arms and legs swinging
The Scientist – Coldplay
Getting over someone; falling for him every time I listen this song, still. Fail.
The Road – Matt Costa
Self-realization; I was driving to Coopers after school one day and I realized that I had to get out of Kamloops after grad; driving over the mountains in Washington during the road trip; in Ben's car
That’s the Way- Led Zeppelin
Almost Famous!!; my first solo ferry to bus to plane trip from Victoria to Kamloops in December 08; headphones on and all the confidence to tackle the winter storm..I was William Miller.
JUSTICE – D.A.N.C.E
BFF Saturday (the first and only I went); parties outside SAC windows in the first week of uni; dance parties at Chris’ house, in Zoe’s room, in my room and all over campus!; summer after grad pool parties and grad bush parties!; Watching A Cross the Universe with Graham; Aaron Kolarcik?
Welcome Ghosts – Explosions in the Sky
Bibliocafe; writing alone on my bed late into the evening; lying on the grass at sasquatch with Chris and Cobi watching the stars come out as the ground absorbed us; we weren’t just hearing the music, we could feel it, we became it
When it Begins – Kevin Drew
Sitting in my Kamloops bedroom strumming my guitar to this song pretending I was at a campfire with all the cool people in the song
Tessalate (acoustic) – Tokyo Police Club
Hearing the original recording of this song on Sirius Satellite almost every day in the last months of high school; accidentally downloading this acoustic version instead and loving it way more; Dan singing it in his room; all our friends (incl. Sheldon) getting this song stuck in their head..how could you not?; Jackson and Dan at the show last night :)
Mix Tape – Brand New
HAHAHAHA! Let’s just say...burnt CDS, Discmans, grade 9 teen angst, headphones in math class and the hallways and bus rides that always ended before I was done listening to Brand New that day; Riley and I singing this song at 4 am on Christine’s deck 5 years later.
Little Wing – Jimi Hendrix
Repeatedly listening to this song on vinyl in my living room, volume cranked while the family was at tkd; leaving Seattle after our Rock and Roll Road Trip in Grade 12; of course Jimi’s memorial; trying to play simple scales along with this song during my 2 months of guitar lessons
((What songs tell the story of your life?))