Sing us a song… you’re the piano man. Sing us a song tonight. Well, we’re all in the mood for a melody… and you’ve got us feelin alright.

Music has always been a huge influence on me. As long as I can remember, it’s always been a memorable part of my life from the days of listening to Johnny Cash on the radio when my Dad came home on his lunch breaks, to lip syncing to the Spice Girls in the back yard while my parents videotaped us, to the thousand odd songs on my Itunes which are constantly in rotation. I think Sarah Dessen’s character Owen Armstrong put it perfectly in her book Just Listen (which is one of my personal favorites by her):

“Music is a total constant. That’s why we have such a strong visceral connection to it, you know? Because a song can take you back instantly to a moment, or a place, or even a person. No matter what else has changed in your or the world, that one song says the same, just like that moment.”

And I can’t help but agree completely with those sediments. I think that is the reason why I’m almost constantly listening to music. Again, to quote Just Listen again: “Silence is just so freaking loud“. But it got me to thinking about those songs and albums which define me, or at the very least, define the moments in my life. This, of course, came to me at five-in-the-morning while listening to The Ataris’ album “Welcome to the Night” and instantly being brought back to 2007 into 2008 and everything that happened between the course of those two summers. There are just some songs that define my personal history. I have my theme song section of my blog, under girl, but this is a little different. These are the songs and bands which–whenever they play–instantly take me back to a place and a time. I can be six years old again, or seventeen. These songs are by no means my favorites, but rather the songs which represent to me some of the most defining moments up to now. There are definitely many more where that came from:

Johnny Cash — “Man in Black”: While I have no particular memory when it comes to this song, whenever I hear Johnny Cash, I instantly think of my Dad singing it. While I also grew up listening to Britney Spears, the Backstreet Boys, and other pop music, my younger days were also filled with the oldies of such classic musicians that my Dad favored as The Eagles, The Who and Johnny Cash. “I wear the black for those who’ve never read.. or listened to the words that Jesus said!

S Club 7 — “I Really Miss You”: I’ll admit it, S Club 7 pretty much defined my junior high years. This song, however, reminds me the most of junior high because, besides “I’m a little teapot” (a story which never needs to be retold), it holds a memory of one of my greatest embarrassments. For some reason I decided I wanted to get on stage, and sing in front of an entire auditorium of my peers, and this was the song I chose. It really was one of those what was I thinking moments, but whenever I hear this song I think of standing on that stage, terrified, just waiting for those three minutes and fifty-five seconds to end. “I want to tell you the things I’ve seen.. I want to take you to where I’ve been.

Our Lady Peace — “Somewhere Out There”: I’ve always adored Our Lady Peace, since the days I remember sneaking home for lunch in elementary school, and putting on Much Music (which I wasn’t allowed to watch) and listening to “Superman’s Dead”. This song pretty much defines four months between 2002 and 2003, my first (real) boyfriend and my first serious heartbreak. From listening to this song in my computer room with him, to the months and months after I would listen to this song, or watch the video, and instantly be in tears. But at the same time as I listen to this song I feel like it has different meaning–like even though I was heart broken, there was something better waiting for me. “You’re falling back to me… the star that I can’t see.

Chris De Burgh — “Patricia The Stripper”: This song defines my best friends. It brings back memories of sleepovers in my room and backyard, way too much sugar, calling boys until early in the morning, running through the streets, and way too many games of “Truth or Dare”. I’m still friends with both girls for who this song holds so many memories, but neither of them are friends with each other. Never the less, whenever I hear this song, I have to hold back from breaking out the dance we created together, just for old times sake. “With the swing of her hips, she started to strip. To tremendous applause she took of her drawers.

Dashboard Confessional — “Screaming Infidelities”: You know those songs which can perfectly describe memories? This song is one of those for me, and again dates back to a certain ex-boyfriend. No matter how far I’ve come, how many years are between us, whenever I hear this song I’m sixteen again, and devastated. There was a lot more to it then just being a simple break up, and I this song just sits perfectly for me. It defines a large chunk of life for me at sixteen. “Cuddling close to blankets and sheets. But you’re not alone, and you’re not discreet… make sure I know who’s taking you home.

The Ataris — “Boys of Summer”: Again, we travel back to the summer I was sixteen, and to the friends who defined an entire summer for me. There was heart break, and sand, long nights down at the lake until the moon was beginning to rise. This song brings back a summer defined by bottles of stolen champagne and nights where I just cried and cried and cried. When that summer ended, I was still heartbroken and never believed that I was going to get over it. It just hurt too much. “I thought I knew what love was, what did I know.”

Liz Phair — “Why Can’t I?”: Andrew. In one world, this song defines the beginnings of what would grow to be my relationship with Andrew before we were us. I remember listening to this song while he and I chatted online about anything and everything. And it brings back the butterflies I felt every time I saw he was online. I was so terrified of getting hurt, but there was something about him that just made me feel safe to open up. While there are many, many songs which remind me of Andrew and our love, this is probably one of the only songs which remind me of that short time before. “Get a load of me, get a load of you… walking down the street and I hardly know you. It’s just like we were meant to be.

Frank Sinatra — “Fly Me to the Moon”: If the above song defines Andrew and I before we were a couple, this is the song of “us”. A couple summers ago I fell in love with the music of Frank Sinatra and introduced him to Andrew. Somehow, randomly, this became “our” song. And when I hear it not only to I think of walking around Colby, and nights under the stars at our park, but I also dream about our future together. It’s the only song which not only brings me back, but also flashes me forward. “In other words, please be true. In other words… in other words… I love you.”

The Kinks — “Lola”: This song is one of those songs that instantly transforms me back to the summer I was eighteen. I’m sitting in my best friend’s car, still crusted with sand, slightly sun burnt and we’re driving back from the beach. No matter how old I get, or how many summers pass in between, that song will always remind me of the beach, of my best friend, and of driving through the hills. “We drank champagne and danced all night… under electric candle light.

Brand New — “Soco Amaretto Lime”: This is one of my favorite songs that reminds me of summer. But more so it reminds me of my friendships. There is something about being young and feeling absolutely invincible and that’s what this song reminds me of. Nights under the stars, drinking until we were silly behind the elementary school by my house. Even though I’ve more, or less, left those days behind me doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten how important they were. And whenever I hear this song, I’m instantly transformed back to those days, and back to the girl I was. “Walk around this town like we own the streets, and stay awake through summer like we own the heat.

The Ataris — “Connections are More Dangerous than Lies”: Between 2007-2008, I went through a bit of a rough time. It seemed like quite a few things were changing, and I didn’t exactly handle them well. I started partying a too much and found myself feeling down a lot. On top of that, my anxiety was quite high and I was subduing it with partying, and drinking. This song, and the album “Welcome to the Night” remind of of those two summers and the time in between. The album is beautiful, dark and moody, and perfectly accompany how I felt. Thankfully I feel quite confident I’ve come out of that darker period but whenever I listen to this album I can’t help but go back to those days a little bit. “So call me on your long walks home, where drunken voices bleed into one.

The Postal Service — “Be Still My Heart”: This song kind of goes with the above time period, but towards the end of summer. For me it represents the new beginning I felt. The lyrics are about a couple, who seem to have gone through a rough period, but in the end know they are meant to be together regardless of what happened in the past. Andrew and I went through some rough stuff last summer, but we came through it all. When I hear this song, I think of Andrew and how wonderful just waking up beside him in the morning can be. Simple, sweet. And everlasting. “But I could not recall, a more perfect fall. Cause when I looked up, into your eyes, it did not hurt at all.


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