Create a soundtrack to your life
One of my favorite childhood memories is of my parents’ record collection. I would sit in front of our stereo with the records spread over the living room carpet, balancing the much-too-large headphones over my ears. I would close my eyes and listen with delight, awe and sadness to The Kinks, Peter Frampton, Janis Joplin, Cream, Chicago, and the Allman Brothers. What I heard affected me.
It’s a wonder my parents didn’t guess I would be a DJ and run a radio station one day.
Music can move me in a way nothing else can. When people ask me about my spirituality, I tell them that it’s one part music, one part night sky and one part ocean (gawd, I sound like a hippie). Nothing gets at my soul as quickly and profoundly as music does. I can still spend an evening happily with my headphones on lying on my own living room floor, just in front of my computer now instead of a hi-fi.
After spending this past Saturday night hanging out with GIWS listening to music and talking for a few hours, he pointed out a habit I’ve known about for a while. “You and your kicks,” he said. “You get on these kicks with certain albums.” It’s true. I tend to take an album, whether it just came out or I suddenly get the urge to revisit it, and I listen to it over and over and over. For like weeks, usually months at a time, until I’m absolutely sick of it and can’t stand to hear it for another 6 months or so.
The really amazing thing about my little habit, which has annoyed the crap out of almost every boyfriend I’ve had who doesn’t understand my relationship to music, is that it creates an aural memory-inducer. In layman’s terms, later in life when I hear a song from that “kick” it takes me instantly back to that few weeks or months of my life.
When I hear Death Cab For Cutie’s “The Photo Album,” I am swept instantly back to my sophomore year of college. I was playing it non-stop in the fall of that year, and it reminds me of my best friend Amanda, trying to repress my shouted requests when they toured through Orlando that year, and making out with a cute, cute boy to track #3.
When I hear Coldplay’s “Parachutes,” I am instantly sitting on the shared upstairs porch with my dorm mate Heeral, drunkenly shouting the lyrics after sauntering back to campus as a freshman who somehow didn’t get carded at a British pub. It always reminds me of the way you could tell she was drunk because she’d start speaking with a British accent.
When I hear Neil Halstead’s “Sleeping on Roads,” I can vividly remember my first apartment in Orlando and how gorgeous the spring was that year, my junior year of college. I would put it on while doing little things, like putting clean, hot pink sheets on my bed or sitting in my favorite chair (a hideous green wool La-Z-Boy I bought for $5 at a garage sale) overlooking second-story trees in bloom while reading. It reminds me of much simpler times.
What I’ve done with my play-the-crap-out-of-it habit is create a soundtrack to my life. The Verve is what I listened to my first month of sobriety, and “Lucky Man” is the official song of my sober life. Pete Yorn is what I listened to as I fell for GIWS. And now, as I go through what I can only describe as a new painful period of growth, I am stuck on Radiohead’s “The Bends.”
I don’t fight it because I know that it will help me get through today and that one day in the future I’ll hear it and be swept back to these days, fondly remembering how I didn’t know yet what was in store for me. Maybe that’s the fun part of making the memory – realizing that this will be the past one day and that I might as well enjoy where I’m at.