Mixing Memory and Desire?

What is it about a song? Upon the opening notes we can recall a season, an hour, a place in time past. Is it because what is exceptional lives on, or is it that the tie to a memory remains special because of its musical backdrop? I remember learning to play the guitar to Nirvana, skateboarding to Sum 41, and lonely afternoons spent listening to the masterful Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. In burgeoning youth, I’d spent my last hours of the evening with Chester Bennington (Linkin Park) singing me to sleep. I feel it tug on my heart, like an invisible thread, when I hear a song from my memories. But does the music make the moment, or does the moment make the music?
At times, I’ve wondered if my obsession with a cd comes at a time when my emotional state is fit. For instance, I loved Thursday’s War All the Time album in 2004. I was in an awkward, isolated place in time. I neglected the rest of my record collection for nearly five months. It was in my walkman on the morning drive to school. When I came home I’d take it to my room to listen again while I painted. Then, on winter nights, I’d sit on my front porch bundled up in a coat, and stare at the peaceful, frozen scenery. I memorized all of the lyrics and spent time journaling about my analysis of their meanings (my English teacher would have been proud.) Despite this love, their next album couldn‘t keep the flame kindled. A City by the Light Divided (2006) was pretty good to me, but it didn’t catch the attention of my mysterious obsession. I probably listened to War All the Time a thousand fold more. The same goes for the Raveonettes (I listened to Pretty in Black[2005] much, much more than Lust, Lust, Lust [2007],) The Used (I never got past they‘re debut self-titled release) and the Von Bondies (Pawn Shoppe Heart [2004].) Perhaps my insistence that Isn’t Anything is a better My Blood Valentine album than Loveless can be attributed to one of the perfect-album-at-the-perfect-time phases in my life.
As someone who is practically devoted to music, I recently found that the sentimental attachment to a song can evolve. Just last week, I was listening to WMMR, a radio station that has played practically the same music since I was a kid. In middle school, I kept a stereo under my bed. Every night, I’d listen to Linkin Park before falling asleep. I spent many hours listening to the inscription on that shiny piece of plastic while I painted seemingly in a trance. Years later, when my music obsession shifted, that beloved cd was unfortunately lost in a car accident (my brother’s friend, not me) as it was playing. Though the car wall full of passengers, the cd, along with said friend’s very first car, were the only things damaged (destroyed, actually.) Recently, I heard one of the singles from that album on WMMR. It was as painful and passionate as I’d remembered it, but I began to see encouragement in the pain. Lyrics about deep loneliness and displacement were beginning to sound like a rallying call to move forward, rather than stay lost.
Despite these two arguments, I haven’t come to a conclusion. I believe the power of the intangible will always be a mystery. Maybe my relationship with albums is all about the right place in my life, but I believe that any profound connection to music is of high value, nonetheless. – Words by Jocelyn Illustration by keba