I’m pretty emo in that I spend a lot of time listening to music, and I spend a big portion of that time finding meaning in the lyrics. I don’t care what the artists meant when writing the songs, necessarily, and perhaps if I ever found out I would stop listening altogether. This, I firmly believe, is why I stopped watching music videos a long time ago. There are a few songs I’ve seen the music video for several times, and now whenever I hear them I don’t try and apply that song to my life or think about how it can relate to me – all I’m thinking about is that video. I have no creative license, for example, to Tom Petty’s “Don’t Come Around Here” because all I see is that warped Alice in Wonderland scene.
Sometimes I like to play a little game with my iPod. I shuffle the songs and try and come up with a memory or image associated with each one. I cheat a little, and skip the ones I don’t know very well. I can organize my life’s memories quite clearly using songs I listened to at the time. In fact, listening to a specific album brings back vivid memories I might not have otherwise. I’ve talked about this before, when raving about my favorite band The Indigo Girls, but it certainly applies to every song I’ve ever loved.
Anywhere You Go – Shawn Colvin: I first heard this song on my cousin’s boombox when I visited her in Colorado on a college trip. Every time I hear it I think about how my life could have turned out completely different had I followed her to Colorado College instead of attending Denison and married Tom. Most of the time these hypotheticals give me a headache, but I don’t mind thinking about them so much when I’m listening to music.
All Kinds of Time – Fountains of Wayne: I know this is a song about football, but I use it as a sort of analogy for my life. Sometimes I get really, really stressed out about how my life is at a standstill right now, in terms of career and lifestyle. And then I think, hey, I’m only 25. Why can’t I go back to school and earn a master’s at 28? A doctorate at 30? Why can’t I have kids at 32? Why do I have to worry about these things right now?
In My Life – The Beatles: This is a great memory song. Not only is the song about remembering the people in your life, the song itself elicits memories for me. I originally heard this becase my best friend of the time included it on a mixed tape she made me. Her mixed tape was also where I first learned of several great artists and I will always be thankful to her for that. This song and others will always remind me of her, even though we no longer speak.
I could go on like this for hours, and not only is it a fun game, it’s a good writing exercise and journaling activity. And it’s amazing how vivid these memories come back to me. I’ve said it before but music truly is amazing, and I know I couldn’t live without it.