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The Year Through Song

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Music is the soundtrack to our lives. That sounds sort of redundant, but it’s also sort of profound. I decided to compose a small list of songs that really stick out as pieces of this past school year and what they meant to me. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but it’s a good idea I think. Enjoy.


“There’s No Secrets This Year”- Silversun Pickups http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oqZHIQp0ok0. It’s hard to sum up an entire season with just one song, but this one pretty much does it. I got the Swoon album from my cousin Melly the first few days I was home after my junior year and grew to really love it. I clearly remember just putting this on really loud and hauling down the hills of my neighborhood as fast as I could, trying to get the wind to whip around my face and cool me down. I spent most of the day (sometimes a literal 8 hours) skating all over my neighborhood like I did when I was a younger. It  was a weird sort of communion with my past self. I took the song title to be one of my own little mottoes for the coming semester too- I was going to be completely honest and true to myself and everyone around me without compromise. I think I’m making good on the promise.

“Auto Rock”- Mogwai http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zei_wnNZ1mo. This is, to me, one of the greatest songs ever written- and I don’t like to have favorites either. An instrumental, but it says so much. Unfortunately, I can’t really think of anything but the end of my relationship with my ex-girlfriend/former best friend Sarah when I hear this one. In the repetition of those few chords, it sort of conveys everything in your life in miniature- all the good and all the bad. Your life flashes before your eyes and everything hits you at the same time- emotions coming from outside and from inside so they crush you like a vise, straining you into a truer version of yourself. I wonder how much actually ends up on the cutting room floor. The song takes everything in life and fits it into the palm of your hand. For me, I see all the times Sarah and I spent to together- all the laughs, all the fear, all the passion,  all the pain, all the love. In the months after our breakup, I became very depressed and even thought about taking extreme measures to soothe my pain. I realized, though, that even this tremendous pain was beautiful in a sense. I had felt something for someone. I was not going through my life with my head down awaiting to die- I was living. At the end of the day, I was happy to have been with Sarah and seen ourselves grow as people and to get to share a large portion of my life with her. As much as I want to feel I do, I have no regrets. I would rather have loved and been hurt than to have never loved at all, I guess. As one of the comments for “Auto Rock” said, to paraphrase, “it’s like man lifting his eyes towards the sun from darkness.” A beautiful song I can never forget.

“Why Bother?”- Weezer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EUm5-1x1LfA. Nothing sums up my experiences with women this year better than that exact phrase- “why bother.” The song literally, word for word, says it better than I can. My only solace from the spectacular shutdowns and hilarious botched attempts at romance is that Rivers  Cuomo (Weezer’s lead singer) was likely was in my shoes at one time too.

“Mesopotamians”- They Might Be Giants http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jAMRTGv82Zo. This is Charles and I’s official theme song. He’s a fan of the group, and I had only heard of them until last year, when he started playing this on trips to the hardware store or to our favorite Chinese restaurant. It’s a catchy song with a funny story about wandering friends- equal parts quirky and dorky.

“Like A G6”- Far East Movement http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VYaygLi1Qd0. If I was a hipster, I’d get to say I like this song ironically, but I’m not a hipster, so that just means I’m sort of weird for still liking this song. Show my a party that didn’t play this song, and I’ll show you a party that I wish I would have gone to.

“My Michelle”- Guns n’ Roses http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=18dBU55S6P0. As previously mentioned, this was the theme to my (at times, sort of troubling) introduction into the partying scene. The song is about pure hedonism and describes perfectly how that whole slice of time was for me. See the previous post for a more in depth breakdown of this one.

“Yeah Yeah Yeah”- New Politics http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q7RCQhuRdhw. Usually I don’t have a song for a very specific occasion since I listen to so much so often, but the first day of senior year of college was exactly this song. The music video really speaks to me because this guy dances just like I do when no one’s looking- just flailing and spazing out in an ironically artful sort of way. For an in depth narrative of my first day, in which this was the sole song playing on my iPod, check out my previous post: https://dstclaire.wordpress.com/2010/08/19/i-brought-a-knife-to-our-gunfight-now-im-bringing-flowers-to-your-grave/.

“Swim”- Surfer Blood http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QVkgNPK8EQE. If the name of the band and the song title don’t give it away already, this was the song for a spur of the moment beach trip I took in September to see my friend Teri. Special K turned this on while blazing down I-40 and I immediately recognized it as something I had heard before, I just didn’t know who did it. Like a salty wave to the face, the song’s both momentous and refreshing, organic and clean. The guitars crash around the drums and the slightly distorted vocals seem to foam out over the melody, then recede back. I always figured that if I lived by the beach I would have surfed. I wanted to surf on this trip (I’ve wanted to every time I go to a beach), but sadly it wasn’t to be yet again. Lots of people who skate with me say I have a surfy vibe to my style, so maybe I’d be a natural. Few songs seem to transport you to a place and time like this one does.

“Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams”- the 69 Eyes http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mAuefmREGSU. Like the summer song, “There’s No Secrets This Year,” this song fits a very particular time period- October. It’s got this Gothic vibe in the beginning that’s so beautiful, then breaks out into Billy Idol style power rock. During October, I was playing it all the time and adopted it as another sort of motto- to wrap my troubles in my dreams. Let all that is harmful in your life but covered, or better yet suffocated, by your life’s motivations. You’ll always have enough to totally eclipse whatever is bothering you- the joys of life always run circles around the tragedies.

“Armagedon”- Alkaline Trio http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CP55zSLhLGY. May 21st, 2011- it was supposed to be the end of the world- the Rapture. I was excited about this one. I mean, this was my first end of the world after all. This pissed me off because I think it’s a bit arrogant to try and second guess the creator of the universe, the entity that knows everything. Some random thinks he can predict what God/fate can do? Well, we all know how this worked out. There’s a lot of theological questions here, but the main one is just: how can you ever know the end of the world? Hell, you can’t even predict what will happen to you in the next hour when you think about it. Besides, the world can’t end, not until someone like Hannah Montana covers “Smells Like Teen Spirit!” Uh oh…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A8r45usSKXg.

“Golden Hill”- Tristeza http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r8TfCp7uoNk. Like “Auto Rock”, this instrumental songs carry an inherent emotional weight. Because of how I discovered it, I always associate this song with summer and nothingness. I heard it in a skate video I got for free when I was younger, and the director (who would become my friend once I came to Raleigh) set the song to guys skating in full pipes (giant sewer pipes and stuff- massive concrete circles basically.) They’d just go up and down, back and forth. I’ve done it before, it’s one of the most relaxing and oddly natural things in the world- you melt into the surroundings and become a human grandfather clock, keep a rhythm to your own existence. Anytime it’s summer, I usually feel this song in my head: going to West Virginia before my grandfather died and walking around the mountains looking at gravestones, rolling down hills on my board, wandering in the fields by my house- it’s a key piece of my life’s soundtrack. After school was over, I felt an immense weight on my soul coming from all directions- not necessarily a bad weight, but there was plenty of static. In the days after graduation, I spent hours laying on my bed and staring up at the ceiling with nothing but this song playing. I’d just transition into the world outside myself and walk through all the memories of my past and peak over the horizon at the future. It has this spirit of quiet finality to it that’s comforting no matter what your taste in music. A wonderful perennial on my playlist.

“Shippensburg”- CKY http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOmOwbjhHKQ. This is the song of the moment, June 30th, 2011. After I heard Ryan Dunn died, I felt the need to go and listen to CKY more again. You see, I really idolized the Jackass/CKY guys when I was younger, and to hear one of them died (let alone the most cautious one) sincerely made me sad. I remember one of the best presents I ever got in my life was a poster of Mike Carroll doing a frontslide bluntslide and a few skate videos from my cousin Melly. I remember opening them up in the tiny kitchen in our old house, it must have been about 2001 or 2002. I had just started skating and these were treasures to me. I had found something I passionately loved and a direction for my life to go in- an identity I could make for myself in my own image. With the videos was a CKY anthology- basically all the stuff before Jackass got popular- so lots of skating, more nudity, more violence, and plenty of profanity. All the songs in this were by the band CKY (hence the name- it stands for Camp Kill Yourself), and “Shippensburg” was always really cool and I finally learned the name of it a few days ago. I’ve been playing it nonstop the past forty-eight hours. (NOTE: While doing a broad search for a friend on an iPhone application, the first result I got was a girl from Shippensburg. That’s the power of the rock n’ roll!)

Bonus Song of the Moment: “Buried Alive by Love”- H.I.M. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VRbPWZ6456E. Having a craving for the tragic and Gothic lately, but I’m feeling the next one is going to be old time bluegrass music.

Songs I Associated with Friends; In No Particular Order: “Haze”- Jackie Chain, “Take Off Your Sunglasses”- Ezra Furman and the Harpoons, “Now I Know”- Max Indian, “The Pursuit of Vikings”- Amon Amarth, “Skulls”- the Misfits, too many (the friends, not the songs)

Band of the Year: Children of Bodom. A lot of people have been interested in my sudden, passionate fascination with Finnish death metal band, Children of Bodom. Why this band, of all bands? I can’t explain it- they’re just so good- fuck whatever you think. I love all types of music, which I think is evident from this list. I came to Bodom through equal parts friends and skateboard videos, and every time I heard a new song, I was like “Damn, that’s even better than the last one!” They’re just over the top enough to impress but not seem cheesy, just crazy enough to still be melodic, just dark/creepy enough to still seem like awesome guys to party with. They balance everything so well for me. Check out songs like “Triple Corpse Hammerblow,” “Hate Me,” “Needled 24/7,” “Banned from Heaven,” or “Follow the Reaper” for examples. They make you feel like you can do anything- shred guitar, get your paper done, or raise the dead.

Check back soon for more content. Rock on, readers!


Written by dstclaire

June 30, 2011 at 12:30 pm

Posted in Fiction, Uncategorized

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