Music makes life better. It’s just one of those things. Throughout my years, there have been songs that have made distinct impressions on my life, songs that have been playing during pivotal moments in time. Whenever I hear these songs, I am transported back, and if I close my eyes, it’s almost like I will be back there when I open them again.
I was born in 1980 to two youngsters living in the West Michigan countryside. I had no siblings, and spent hours on my own exploring the outdoors, making up games and imaginary friends, reading books and listening to music. I have this great memory of my mom putting on this 7″ with a song about peanut butter and jelly and trying to teach me how to dance, but I just had no concept of rhythm and thought the quicker I moved, the better I was. Clearly, this is not the case. So, without further ado, here are some songs that mean a whole lot to me, the music that evokes strong the strong memories.
Bob Seger – Old Time Rock and Roll
This was one of my first favorite songs. I had a brown tape recorder my parents bought for my birthday, and I played the hell out of this tape. I mean, I had three tapes at the time, including Tommy James and the Shondells and Bon Jovi’s New Jersey. This song elicits memories of my backyard with it’s beige metal swing set, a creek that ran through my backyard where my cousin and I had many a leaf boat race, a strong feeling of family and love.
Poison – Flesh and Blood album
This whole album was my 1990’s backdrop to Super Mario Brother’s 3. It was one of the albums that started me down the music pathway. Any song from this album takes me to Super Mario 3, sitting on the green shag carpet with my cousin in the living room, neon spandex clothing and the knowledge just starting to form that I was in the stages of not being a little kid. I know. Poison. Who would have thought?
Metallica – Enter Sandman
Though this came out in 1991, it wasn’t until about 1994 that I really started to obsess over it. I read the liner notes on the CD, I bought the Hit Parade magazines with articles featuring Metallica. I had a whole magazine solely dedicated to Metallica. They were my transition band. I could have followed my friends down the pop music pathway, but I chose the road traveled with metal instead. And it has made all the difference. (Okay, so Frost is one of my favorite poets).
Korn- Life is Peachy album
High school was filled with an awkwardness akin to being a band geek at the Friday night football game after halftime. I spent all four years in Shelby trying to figure out what I liked and who I was. During this time, Korn was there. Did I love them? Eh, I tried really hard. I played this album loud. I played it on my way to school, on my way to work at McDonald’s, in my bedroom. This was the anger outlet I plugged into, and though I may not have loved it, the music definitely spoke to some part of me. You know, the angry adolescent part.
The Get Up Kids – 10 Minutes to Downtown (but really the whole album)
Oh, TGUK. Welcome college memories. This band elicits the feels alright. I remember the excitement of going away to CMU, and the loneliness that followed. I remember sitting outside the Towers, smoking my first cigarette because why not, everything else sucked. God, even the memories are emo. My second group of roommates hung multi colored Christmas lights from the ceiling, and on the rare occasion I was home alone, I lit those babies up and blasted this album, singing along as loud as humanly possible without screaming. I remember meeting Briefcase John, (before he earned that nickname), and his roommate Goth Ed. I remember Ed used to enshroud me in his cape when it was windy so I could light my cigarette. I remember going to the elevators in 6th floor Carey, and seeing my friend Sherry at the elevators in 6th floor Cobb, waving before we met outside to trade stories and discuss our lives.
Operation Ivy – Knowledge
This reminds me of a good friend. The year was 2000. I remember Camel Lights, a tiny trailer off M20, and alcohol. I remember studying for Physical Anthropology, smoking a lot, and laughing. There was a feeling of freedom in this friendship, the opening of a whole world to which my naive self had never been a part. Operation Ivy only put out one album, but this friend has thus far been lifelong.
Alkaline Trio – My Little Needle
There couldn’t be a list without this song, without the memories of the summer I lived in the shitty apartment, the summer after Nick and before anyone else. The summer Sherry and I decided to learn to skateboard. The summer we sang this loudly, no music, a friendship that, despite the distance and time between conversation, I still value. This was the summer we spent at Lil Chef, the summer I met crazy Dan who was pretty awesome, but just not quite there. This was the summer we went stalking to get a hoodie back.
Modest Mouse – Bukowski
Good News for People Who Love Bad News is one of my all time favorite albums. I drove down to New Moon Records on Mission and bought this I think on the day it came out. I had just graduated from college, and it was sometime in September 2004. I was living by myself in a one bedroom apartment (a first for me), above a douche bag named Steve who liked to pound on his ceiling (my floor), because I walked too loud. Anyway, I turned on my lamps and set my box of red wine on the table, and I played Modest Mouse. I played this and got drunk in my first apartment with no roommates, before meeting my friends at the Bird for drinks and darts, where we proceeded to praise this album. This was such a great in between time in my life. It was my last year in Mt. Pleasant, the beginning of the end of an era for me.
The Weakerthans – Aside
One of my all time favorite songs, ever. I was back home in my mid twenties, working two jobs and trying to figure out what the hell I was doing. And drinking. I was drinking every night, writing bad poetry, and running to stay sane. It feels like a pretty big fail to end up back at home two years after graduating with your bachelor’s and no experience in the field, no desire to work in the field, and a lot of acquaintances I no longer spoke to. Then I moved out and shortly thereafter started the biggest chapter in my life: motherhood.
There are so many songs and albums and bands I’m skipping over. Guns N Roses, Queen, The Clash, The Forum Walters, The Cobra Skulls, AC/DC… It’s truly an endless list. The point is, music is such a huge part of how I make up my memories. One song has the power to place me twenty years in the past, another to make me giddy like the school girl I never was. (I was the one dressed in black writing in a composition notebook in the corner).
Listen to music, look at art, read books, be creative. Pass it on. See, my parents probably don’t realize it, but they’re why I love music so much.
Thanks Mom and Dad!