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Music and Memories

Published: Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Updated: Friday, August 23, 2013 17:08


I never really bought into music until my second year of college. In high school, I’d throw on an old Marvin Gaye album and run it through seven or eight times in a single weekend without realizing it. I’d leave it in the stereo and forget about music entirely for weeks at a time. 

I started gathering an extensive music library during my first year of college, but still, music served as entertainment, something thrown in the background as I wrote a lab report or cleaned my room.  In the winter of my second year, I realized that music could be something more. Music and I connected in a way that I could never forget, in a way I still crave to experience again. Then “Hometown Hero,” a hidden gem on an obscure mixtape, coerced me into 13 plays in a row. A haunting Adele sample, a “Friday Night Lights” dialogue cut, ghostly piano keys and the unfiltered voice of a twenty-something with nothing to lose condensed my entire world into a series of arranged notes and sounds.

Now, I reach this “sonic zen” once a week if I’m lucky. Sometimes I’m walking to class and a track I’ve never heard before captures my attention so completely that I can’t feel the winter wind cracking my lips. At other times, I’m listening to a song for the 50th time and it seems new; I feel as though I’ve finally understood it. 

But whether the track is “Blue Sky” by The Allman Brothers Band or “Hometown Hero” by Big K.R.I.T, it always sticks. Each song to hit me moves from my iPod to my back pocket. I carry it with me at all times, and if I happen to hear it on the radio while I’m riding the Blue Line, through a varsity athlete’s Beats in the library or on my very own stereo, I’m taken back in time. These tracks constantly return me to the state of mind I was in when the song first shook me.

“Never Been,” a mid-album cut from Wiz Khalifa’s inaugural “Kush & OJ,” brings me back to Spring Weekend 2010, an unusually warm April Saturday defined by a sense of freedom I have yet to rediscover.

When I hear The Root’s “Doin’ It Again,” I remember the weeks I spent getting over a love unreciprocated during my sophomore year. The song reminds of winter days spent lonely and crushed, pretending my hardest to look as apathetic and unaffected as possible.

A year ago I discovered a new EP, “Art Dealer Chic Part 1,” by Miguel. Back then, he was ‘that guy with the radio hit “Sure Thing.”’ Willing to take a chance, I found “Adorn,” the three-song EP’s first track. I played it twenty times that week, and when I heard a remix on Hot 93.7 in August, I remembered in vivid detail falling for a girl I took out for the first time that February. While our relationship has since changed, “Adorn” has a consistent and unique ability to take me back to the beginning, for three minutes and 13 seconds, anyway.

One in 500 tracks might become back-pocket musical memories if you’re lucky. But if you’ve found even one of these, you know the feeling, and I’m sure you’re desperate to acquire another. 

The fan’s greatest achievement is never an autographed vinyl, or a sold-out show. It’s always that intimate moment when time stops – when music captures the listener’s thoughts and emotions and enhances, alters, affects them. When music and time merge in the mind permanently, a single track can transform the entire world into the emotions, moods and memories of the past. 

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