Sunday, February 10, 2008

Relax, take it easy

Have you ever heard a song so often while visiting a place or during a certain time in your life that whenever you hear it now you are instantly reminded of that place or time?

It happens to me all the time. In fact, it is happening to me right now. I am listening to Relax by Mika and I am instantly transported to last year’s summer vacation in Rome
. This song, along with Cupid’s Chokehold by Gym Class Heroes and Hump Da Bump by the Red Hot Chili Peppers were in heavy rotation on MTV and on the radio in Italy. What a glorious time it was to be in Rome during the summer time, touring the ancient sights during the day and eating gelato on lazy afternoons. I had such a good time in Italy and listening to these songs takes me back to that pleasant and relaxed time.

I also remember listening to Big Pimpin’ by Jay-Z a lot during the summer of 2001. This was right after I graduated college and was about to start my new job; I had just gotten a new car (my first big purchase) and was feeling good about having air conditioning and automatic windows for the first time. My previous cars had manual transmission, no air conditioning (quite a bummer when living in LA), and windows that you rolled down. That song reminds me of a time when I was looking forward to starting my career. It felt so good having something nice be yours, and this song was my soundtrack.

We all have a soundtrack to our lives, and until recently it didn’t occur to me how music shapes my life. A child of the “easy listening” era of the late 70s and 80s, my mom used to turn the radio on as I was falling asleep to get me used to noise. She didn’t want me to wake up to the slightest sound. Now I can sing the first lines or the chorus to any song by the Bee Gees, ABBA, the Carpenters, Neil Diamond, Lionel Ritchie, Barry Manilow, Air Supply, or any artist from that era. Sometimes it’s pretty scary how well I know these songs.

Now I am listening to lots of different artists that are not very mainstream. I’m loving Paper Planes by M.I.A., Paint by Numbers by the The Sounds, and D.A.N.C.E. by Justice. Maybe in a few months I’ll figure out what these songs signify about this time in my life.

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