For many of us, the first sounds we hear as infants are songs sung to us by our mothers and fathers. As we grow into young children, we use songs to learn and songs to play. They are sung to us by teachers, relatives and friends.
As we grow a bit older we begin to hear music from other mediums like television, movies, and the radio. Have you ever seen a video of a little kid singing a Top 40 hit or the latest Disney sing along? Adorable, am I right? This isn’t unique to our generation; music has been around for as long as life itself.
We grow into young adults and begin to make our own decisions with music. We use it define us. It becomes much more about the friends, the events, the ‘scene’. Song lyrics and boy band pictures cover our walls, both real and virtual. We use music to remember and music to forget. There are songs shared with friends, and those spent hours alone listening to on repeat.
Songs begin to evoke feelings of excitement, sadness and nostalgia. Some of these experiences are shared with others, while some are so interpersonal that to even have words to define the feelings garnered would be impossible. There isn’t a single person out there who doesn’t know this feeling all too well. (And if you need proof, read all the other ones so far.)
With so many songs heard in the history of a lifetime, and so many of those holding such significant importance to our lives, how does one pick?
And then it hit me: the songs that belong on an AudioBiography are the ones that put me in a specific time and place. A clear, time-distinguishable memory with all the same thoughts and feelings. You can still visualize the sites and smell the smells. The butterflies, heart ache, and excitement are all too real, even after years and years of having that initial experience. So while these may not mean a ton to you, the sure mean a hell of a lot to me.
Box Car Racer – There Is
Summer of 2002 at the East Pool in Hilliard, Ohio. Sitting Indian-style listening to a burned CD in between rest periods.
MxPx – Play It Loud
Winter of 2003 in my bedroom in Hilliard, Ohio. Listening to the song while pumping myself up for evening plans to commence. Butterflies and excitement accompanied this moment.
Taking Back Sunday – Head Club
Summer of 2004, in the back of a friend’s car, driving down Riverside Drive in Columbus, Ohio. Spent singing the different versus as the individual emo-vocalists; I can still sing every word to my ‘part’ in the song.
Baby Boy Da Prince – This Is The Way We Live
Spring Break 2007 at some beach in Florida. The soundtrack to a week that would involve friendship, independence, rule-breaking, and, well…‘What happens on senior trip stays on senior trip’.
Kanye West – Good Morning
Fall of 2007 in Shively Hall in Athens, Ohio. Just as the song itself is a predecessor for one of the greatest albums of all time, it would be the starting point for arguably the greatest 4 years of my life.
Asher Roth – I Love College
Fall of 2008, on the front porch of 121 Mill in Athens, Ohio. A sense of security and wonder spun a web in my gut as I chanted ‘CHUG CHUG CHUG CHUG, FRESH-MAN FRESH-MAN’ knowing I was no longer one.
Passion Pit – Sleepyhead
Fall of 2009 at a friend’s house in Athens, Ohio. Going into my third year at Ohio University, I had a sense of ownership, stability, and immortality. Little did I realize how important this year would become. This song still holds a special place in my heart and generates a feeling that can never truly be explained. [Editor can personally affirm author’s love of this track.]
Wake Up – Arcade Fire
Winter of 2010 walking to class on West Green. It was a sunny day but began to snow. Everything around me looked like a scene out of a snow globe. This is a funny moment because it holds little to no significance to my life. And yet, when this song plays, the memory overtakes me in such a way I can still feel like snowflakes melting on my nose.
Benny Benassi ft. Gary Go – Cinema (Skrillex Remix)
Winter of 2011 in a small corner bedroom of an enormous cabin in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. We did not know at the time how crucial this bedroom would become. This song played loud as I danced with 30 of my dearest, closest friends.
Bon Iver – Perth
Summer of 2011 in a dorm room in Youngstown, Ohio. The album had just come out; I was basically alone to work a professional cycling event. I could not sleep and lay there staring sadly at the ceiling as Justin Vernon reminded me that ‘the glory years’ were behind me.
Shigeto – Ann Arbor Part 3 & 4
Fall of 2012 in the kitchen of my newly inhabited house. I was alone unpacking dishes and other kitchen utensils. While also insignificant, this moment rushes into my memory when the initial raindrops hit at the song’s opening.
Chromeo – Old 45s
December 30th, 2015 driving over the Brooklyn Bridge to enter NYC. This evening would be the beginning of an amazing trip and quite possibly the most influential year of my life to date.
Flaming Lips – Do You Realize
I could create a list of songs from 2015 that were meaningful in some way, but somewhere around some 10,000 you would get sick of it. If you really want to see it, hit a collaborative Spotify playlist known as FTF (Fine Tunes Friday) 2015 I curate with Nick, Wes, and some other trusted earworm-seekers. Like Mr. Coyne tells us “Everyone you know someday will die”. So kiss your Mom, hug your Forms, and take chances…because life goes fast, and it’s hard to make the good things last. And kids, if nothing else, do not fall into the metaphorical coma. You will wake up one day and realize that life is going on without you.