Soundtracks to Life, Part 2

Last week, I talked about songs that, due to a variety of life experiences, are tough for me to listen to now even though I used to love them. It got me thinking about the opposite—songs that I used to not like or not be able to listen to for a variety of reasons that I like now, or at least don’t affect me so negatively anymore. This, in turn, made me think of all the songs that I love, and why I love them.

Audition songs. When I was 10, I had my very first dance audition. It was the summer between fifth and sixth grade, and I tried out for the Junior Dance Company at my dance studio—and it was a Big Deal. We spent five weeknights over five weeks learning a combo, and auditioned on the sixth week. This was back in the day before CD burning was a thing available to the general public, so I (and many of my compatriots) asked our teacher to record the audition song, “Funk Soul Brother” by Fatboy Slim, on a cassette tape to use for extra home practice.

Listening to any song over and over will probably eventually decrease your enjoyment of it. But take a song you didn’t really like to begin with anyway, only listen to about the first 45 seconds of it over and over (and over and over and over), and add an incredibly stressful situation—oh, and be a shy 10-year-old—and you have a recipe for utter and complete hate. My audition was ultimately successful, but it was almost a decade until I could hear that song without wanting to vomit.

Now, though, 15 years later, I actually love the song. Mostly for reasons unrelated to my audition, but it also reminds me that no matter how bad things seem to be, I can still persevere.

Nostalgia songs. As seniors in high school, my friend Jess and I had an unspoken deal: when either of us finds a song we love, we share it with the other immediately. These were the days of Limewire, so we could acquire new music pretty easily, and we spent a significant amount of time doing so. Many, if not most, of our AIM conversations centered on our current obsession song. These didn’t have to be current songs, either; we obsessed over older songs like Wham’s “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” and Boston’s “More Than A Feeling” almost as often as the newer ones by Mae and Jack’s Mannequin. I used to have a playlist on my iPod titled, simply, “Jess,” which included all of our favorite songs.

Other nostalgia songs are ones that I just happened to listen to a lot during a certain time. One of those songs is “The Stranger” by OAR; the opening chords bring me straight back to October of my freshman year of college. The leaves were changing, the sky was that deep, cloudless blue that you can only find in autumn in New England, and there was just enough of a chill in the air to need a sweatshirt but nothing heavier yet. I was experiencing true independence for the first time in my life—I chose what to study, what to eat, and what to do with my free time—and, like many college freshmen, I was reveling in it. Hearing that song can always bring a smile to my face.

Dance songs. I don’t mean songs I’ve danced to, necessarily, although some of those could fall in this category. I’m talking more about songs that make me want to dance. Any song that makes me want to get up and move is a great song in my book. With very few exceptions, I don’t care who sings it or what genre it falls under; if it makes me bounce in my seat, that’s good enough for me. Mega bonus points if it makes me start to choreograph something in my head, like this one:

To be fair, both the song and the video make me want to dance, but I spent the better part of one weekend in March listening to the song while driving around NC looking for houses, and I was grooving pretty hard.

I know not everyone feels this way about music, but I just can’t relate. Music has this incredible way of reaching inside me and grabbing my heart and soul and mind. Even books don’t necessarily have that kind of effect on me; music is so much more immediate. Music is the bow and my emotions are the strings, manipulated by the chords and melodies and lyrics.

What songs affect you deeply?

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2 thoughts on “Soundtracks to Life, Part 2

  1. Time of Your Life- Green Day (They played this song numerous times during my senior year of high school, every time I hear it I flash back to senior year. Fun times 🙂 )
    Unforgettable – Nat King Cole and Natalie Cole (This was the song for the daddy daughter dance at my wedding. <3)
    God Must Be a Cowboy at Heart (Sang this at my Gramps' funeral. Can't hear it, or even talk about it, apparently, without getting a bit emotional.)
    Any song from any show I've ever been in. Sometimes I LOVE the song, and the nostalgia that comes with. Other times I grew to hate the song (think "Almost Paradise") and I want to hit my head against something. haha

    • I was in the pit for Into The Woods in high school and loathed everything about it. The songs were stuck in my head for literally years afterward. But when I saw the movie earlier this year, I was surprised to find that I loved it! The songs still get stuck in my head and they’re still annoying, but it’s so much more enjoyable when I’m not the one playing the music (which is backwards of almost every other playing-vs-listening situation in my life!).

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