The sound of instruments blending together. Sometimes it's a whole song. Sometimes, just a line. But we are moved. To tears. To action. To epiphany. To nostalgia.
I found a station on Pandora that's called "Summer Hits of the 90's" and I cannot stop listening. It doesn't matter that I've lived almost half of my life SINCE graduating from high school. It doesn't matter that I haven't heard so many of these songs in over a decade. I remember them. Music is powerful. Melodies won't be forgotten.
Just tonight, I've heard the following songs...
Closing Time- Semisonic (1998)
By the time I graduated, in '99, this was the well known theme song for moving on. "Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end." And, "Time for you to go out to the places you will be from." Lyrical genius. I can still remember driving my little white Honda down the road, this song playing, a montage of memories from the past decade flashing through my mind. It was time. Time to grow up. College was coming (every new beginning). High school was over (some other beginning's end).
Meet Virginia- Train (1996)
I'm with my youth group. We're walking in our bathing suits around Belmont Park, ducking in and out of surf shops, browsing the stores for flip flops and board shorts. The song plays in the background. Virginia is conflicted but the beat screams carefree summer. We laugh. "Meet Virginia! Well she wants to live her life. Then she thinks about her life!" We laugh. We're young. We live in the land of perpetual waves and sun. We're happy.
Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)- Green Day (1997)
"Tattoos of memories and dead skin on trial. For what it's worth, it was worth all the while." So many of my friends graduated in '98, a year before me. I felt like a piece of me was gone. When the graduation of your friends is what breaks your heart, you can look back and know that you had a charmed childhood.
Crash Into Me- Dave Matthews Band (1996)
"You've got your ball, you've got your chain." In 1998 I found out that my boyfriend was a two-faced liar and everyone knew it but me. In the end, days before I broke up with him, I stood outside a little coffee shop in my hometown fighting tears. I'd just found out that he'd begun referring to me as the old ball and chain. To be a ball and chain at 16. Well, that's never good. I started to detest this song simply because of the way it started. I never liked the Dave Matthews Band after that. Strangely (and I am only just now figuring this out), I named my second son Matthew David.
Santa Monica- Everclear (1995)
"We can live beside the ocean, leave the fire behind, swim out past the breakers, watch the world die." I'm not gonna lie, this always sounded like a decent plan. I had huge hopes and dreams in high school. I was driven and motivated to be something really big and really special. Still, on occasion, I knew that there was something to be said for living in a van down by the...ocean. Sometimes, if I'm being honest, I still don't think I'd mind swimming past the breakers and just bobbing there for awhile. Except. Sharks. And seaweed that looks like sharks.
As Long As You Love Me- Backstreet Boys (1997)
I can't escape the fact that I grew up during the musical wars of the Backstreet Boys and N'Sync. Not to mention that I lived through--and loved--98 Degrees and *gasp* Hanson. At my Senior ditch day, a group of my friends and I laid on the grass next to the ocean and practiced harmonizing with all the great boy bands. "I don't care who you are, where you're from, what you did, as long as you love me." In my defense, I was a drama nerd. I'm not actually sure how, exactly, that's a defense.
Bittersweet Symphony- The Verve (1997)
We're in expensive dresses. Or tuxes. Our hair is done up. We've eaten a spendy dinner. There's an ice sculpture in the corner and a couple of girls have already had a cat fight in the bathroom. Someone's dress is ripped. It has nothing to do with me. My prom date is my friend. Neither of us has feelings for the other but we've gone to two formals together because we have good friendship chemistry. We dance. "Cause it's a bittersweet symphony, this life. Trying to make ends meet. Trying to find some money then you die."
In the film Almost Famous the following exchange occurs.
William Miller: So Russell...what do you love about music?
Russell Hammond: To begin with, everything.