Have you ever been driving along, trying to find the perfect song on the radio, and stumble upon a jam that takes you back to middle school? Or maybe you’re absentmindedly watching television and you hear the melody of an old flame’s theme song on a commercial? I have more flashbacks triggered by music than anything – even smells, photographs, quotes. There is just something about a song that sticks to your heart, standing the test of time, that’s comforting.
Anything by Enya or Natalie Merchant – I am suddenly twirling around the living room in my nightgown. Maybe 7-8 years old. My parents are sitting on the front porch by candlelight, with the windows open, listening to these songs. Enya was one of my Grandma Mary’s favorite artists and when I hear her beautiful voice I can see my Grandma’s face in my head. My sister is having the bridesmaids walk down the aisle to “Only Time” and I don’t know how I am going to hold it together.
“Baby Baby” Amy Grant – 7 years old. My cousin’s 10th birthday party sleepover. I will never forget dancing in her living room to this song with all of her friends and her 7 year old sister, thinking we were the coolest.
“Mouth” Meril Bainbridge – 6th Grade. Clearly this song isn’t appropriate for a 6th grader, but I somehow convinced someone to buy me the tape. I sat on my bedroom floor next to my fancy boombox and listened to this song on repeat. It was one of the first times I ever thought about kissing not being absolutely disgusting.
“My Boo” Ghost Town DJs – 7th Grade. I still know every lyric to this song. Almost the entire 7th grade class (of girls) would listen to it at my friend Megan’s “parties.” The boys weren’t big fans, but we would sing at the top of our lungs to this fantastic jam – and it stayed a hit with my little group of friends for years.
“Slide” Goo Goo Dolls – Middle School. I remember listening to the cd in my bedroom and being depressed that once again a boy I liked just wanted to be my friend. A decade later, Brandon would bring me to a Goo Goo Dolls concert and I would hear my favorite song live.
“Drops of Jupiter” Train – Junior year of High School. My friends and I were actually listening to this song when we got into a car accident. Our Jeep Liberty rolled three times on the highway, but thankfully no one was critically injured. It was a horrible incident in my life that has forever made me afraid to ride fast on the highway in an SUV.
There is one band in particular that almost any one of their songs transports me to another time and place in my life. It is truly amazing how if I close my eyes while listening to most anything by Dave Matthews Band I am suddenly somewhere else.
“Under the Table and Dreaming” Dave Matthews Band – 1995 – My Dad bought the CD and played it in our living room on Saturday nights when he and my Mom would sit around the dining room table after dinner with a nice bottle of wine. I would dance around the living room to what I thought was one of the most amazing songs I had ever heard. Two years later I went to my first concert and heard all of my favorite songs live – “Ants Marching,” making me love it even more.
The entire “Some Devil” album by Dave Matthews Band. Freshman year at UConn. 2003. I used to run Horse Barn Hill every evening with my CD Walkman listening to “So Damn Lucky” and “Stay or Leave” on repeat. Any time I hear “It’s amazing what a minute can do” I am suddenly smelling the cows, hearing the birds, and feeling the pavement under my sneakers. The only time in my life I ever really enjoyed running was my freshman year in college and this album was my soundtrack.
I could play this game forever – listing songs that serve as time machines, whisking me away to moments and places I never thought I could visit again. Sometimes I feel better after hearing a song, and others by feathers are ruffled by a memory I had hoped to suppress. Either way, the power of music is incredible.
What are some songs that bring you back to a particularly important (or maybe not so significant) point in your life?