Memories of music. Musical memories.

So I started writing a piece about all of the pop culture name-dropping that the people of my generation seem to constantly do, and some of the major reasons why we do it. In the course of working on this idea, it became quite clear that this very well may just be a phenomenon that happens among hipsters. So I started researching and writing about the possibility that most people of my generation are hipsters, and this became a step-by-step breakdown of what it is to actually be a hipster, and whether or not being actually deserves the social stigma that comes with it. This whole mess eventually became very self-centered. Am I a hipster, even though I’ve mostly despised these people? So yeah, it has become problematic to write any of these pieces. I do plan on finishing them all, but not while I’m having such an otherwise stressful day. But here’s the fun part (and let me be clear– this stuff is probably fun for me, because I’m a nerd with too much time in my brain).

So. Okay. While I was in the middle of my brain, I got very tired. And so I took a break to read some things from some of my favorite internet people who write things to be read by people like me when my brain hurts. And there was a post I found, one I won’t link to because it was pretty personal and I don’t want to promote someone else’s heartache, but it made me realise something about music. When I think of records or songs, mostly full albums yes, I specifically associate them with certain rituals or eras I had in my previous lives. Let me illustrate my point with these little stories:

Blood Sugar Sex Magik by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Reminds me of being 10 or 11 and not having any friends. I used to have a set of Lego Pirates. They had boat-oars, which became surrogate guitars. And there were these little Lego flagpoles that I would manage to turn into drum sticks for my little Lego dudes. I’m too old now to actually remember what I used for drums, but I’m sure it was something stupid and perfect. I had a “lucky rabbit’s foot” (which I’ve grown up to feel terrible about in case it was actually the petrified foot of a dead rabbit) that came on a little keychain; the clasp of the keychain part somehow perfectly fit into the hands of my Lego friends, and so these acted as microphones. Anyway. Blood Sugar Sex Magik would play on repeat as I lay with my belly on the floor, letting my Lego Pirates become a rockin’ band on a makeshift Lego stage, entertaining their fair Lego-maidens with brilliant funk guitar riffs and primitive drumming and… you know, all that stuff Anthony Kiedis was doing before he discovered how much he enjoys going to fashion shows in Milan.

I used to really love the shit out of Modest Mouse. Enough so that when Good News For People Who Love Bad News came out, I bought it the day it came out and let it grow on me. This is not nearly as interesting, but this album was all about riding my bike. Back and forth to work. I was 22 and I was working at a Quizno’s in a mall in Victorville, California. Where the fuck is Victorville, California? NOWHERELAND (okay, it’s actually in the desert about 60 miles northeast of Los Angeles). But it was cool. This was around the time when I first started playing with digital-recording. And I was periodically fooling around with an unhappily-married girl at work who turned out to be a really great buddy that I never talk to anymore, and I miss her more than I realise most times. But the bike rides, especially on the way home at 10 or 11 at night, in the cool desert wind (haha, this sounds like I’m writing a romance novel) and the sky was dark enough to see a thousand stars jumping around. I used to fantasize about a car pulling up to me with some guys who wanted to take my money and/or bike, and I’d fantasize about killing them in self-defense and then brag about it to everyone. Except I’d dress my bragging up in modesty and valor: two things which I really know nothing about. Good times. There was a lot of Jack Daniel’s, and a lot of waking up on mountains with no shoes on and thorns stuck in my feet, and a lot of loving and hating everything at the same time. And that entire 6 months comes back to me every time I think about that not-very-good Modest Mouse album.

Pink Floyd’s The Final Cut was a lot of LSD in my 10th grade year in high school. Megadeth’s Countdown to Extinction was my entire summer in California after 5th grade, and that summer camp where there was a popular kid named Dante and nobody really talked to me because my Reebok Pumps were the soccer pumps instead of the basketball pumps (fuckin’ a!). Paranoid by Black Sabbath was what I listened to religiously the summer after 6th grade, my first summer of playing guitar; Electric Funeral was the first song I learned how to play on my own.

Point is, this is how my memories work. Every chapter of my life has a certain record playing behind it. And every record I hear (after not hearing it for a bit) inevitably reminds me of other times. I’m not saying I’m special, I assume everyone is like this. I just think this is a REALLY cool thing that happens to us humans. I feel lucky that my brain works like this. Because even for the bad times… there was good music. And in hindsight, I just assume the music is what got me through the harshness. I don’t know. But I like thinking about these things.

So. Maybe now is where you folks can tell me stories about how this phenomenon plays into your life? Or perhaps you can confirm whether or not this does happen to everyone? Or maybe you can just tell me your favorite musical memory?

OK, go!


About R. Spacely

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One Response to Memories of music. Musical memories.

  1. risha; says:

    That’s a pretty great post!

    I do that. I pretty much have a song for people, events and yes; sometimes I overlay memories with songs that came out long after the memory was created.

    It’s funny, but with Lisa; I’ll always think of Drops of Jupiter by Train. I mention this is a lot of the posts I write about her because I remember this so clearly. We were on the phone, trying to figure out a trig problem- she was the Maths genius, of course. We both had the local station (Capital Radio- Radio 1!) playing in the background. They start playing the song, and for the next 4.16 minutes, we were howling along to it. In hindsight, I can interpret it as some really fucking awful foreshadowing. Ha. I’ll also always think of The Killers. She LOVED them. She had really shitty taste in music- haha. I kid. Kind of. She did! Anyway. Her sister’s friends played Mr. Brightside at her memorial service. That and “All These Things I’ve Done”. Of course, now I’ll listen to them just to remind me of her.

    My first boyfriend- proper boyfriend, not the six year old holding hands kind of boyfriend- will always be associated with the Eagles. (That ‘cool desert wind’ line in your post totally reminded me of Hotel California.) He loved them and played that fucking Don Whatshisface (Henley?) song on his stupid guitar all the time. Heart of the Matter. Of course, I ate it all up back then and now I’m just bitter, but oh well.

    I actually created an entire playlist for my end of the year ‘happy 2009!’ e-mail in ’08. I should put it up. Sunset Rubdown featured heavily that year.

    This was a fantastic post, honestly. There’s a tonne of stuff that I relate to being happy and being stupid and being silly. Like the Carpenters. My mother loves the Carpenters. I know every single song, I knew it when I was eight years old and I thought that ‘louder’ and ‘harder’ were interchangeable words.

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