Thursday, September 22, 2016

Turn your face to the moonlight

When I was in my mid/late 20s, I had a job that stressed me out immensely.  It was a 12 hour shift in a locked facility, so during the winter months I'd completely miss the daylight hours.  If you've ever regularly shown up for work at a stressful job while it's dark, this is the album you shouldn't listen to.  For a period of months, I regularly listened to this album on the way to work as I felt like it was a good way to try to calm myself down before work.  I'm a lot of things, but under it all I'm an anxious wreck.  In the end, I'd developed some sort of Pavlovian response to this album.  When it comes on, I'm immediately stressed out and think about that drive to a job that used to give me stomach pains. 

On the plus side, it's made me think about the ability for music to transport you back to a different time and place.  I know it's true for me, so I imagine it's also true for others, that there are albums or songs that we relate to specific emotional memories and moments.  These memories are sometimes so emotionally powerful that we can lose those songs if the memory itself is too painful.  Even songs tied to good memories can be too much.  I don't keep track, because why would I do that? - but if the album is important enough or the memory is one that no longer deserves top-shelf status, I'll listen to the album again to try to get those songs back.

This is one of the few albums I've lost that I've never tried to reclaim.  It's too stressful and that's not a place I like to go back to very often.  At the Drive-In's '198d' is another for me, as it's tied to the memory of me driving around when I was 21 after I got a call saying that my mom was probably going to die (she didn't, but I don't need to go to that place again.)

Some are random and goofy.  Mike and the Mechanics' 'The Living Years' takes me back to listening to the radio as a kid in one of my childhood bedrooms.  Jon Secada's 'Just Another Day' puts me on a series of plane flights in the 90s.  Weird stuff.

This has been such a trend in my life that I've learned to be selective about what I listen to and when.  For the couple months leading up to my candidacy defense, I planned on listening to Japandroids 'The House that Heaven Built' right afterwards as some sort of anthemic, memorable cheer.  I did that, and it nearly brought me to tears - but now I just have the memory of planning to listen to that song, because it's such a goofball thing to do (and a ridiculously anthemic cheer song.)

As my mom says, 'you plan, god laughs.'  Maybe it's better not to plan these things, but to just let the music do its thing.

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