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March 17, 2008 · filed under life


I once had a coworker who teased me mercilessly for knowing almost nothing about music. (Apparently my memorization of every line of American Pie counts for nothing!) Even if I successfully answered one of his pop quizzes about who was singing this or the name of that song, I always failed when he asked me what a song was about. I hardly listen to lyrics. Crap, half of song lyrics are misunderstood anyway. Nevertheless, I connect songs with different times in my life. Adapted from the lovely Whoorl, here is my own musical timeline:

UB40 – Red Red Wine. My best friend got this CD in the 6th or 7th grade, and I remember being so impressed because she owned this CD and I had never even heard of it. Obviously, she was oh so much cooler than me.

Nirvana – Smells like Teen Spirit. It was a quick decline from UB40 to tortured suicidal grunge rock. My mother will agree that my Kurt Cobain obsession at age 13 was not a high point in an otherwise happy childhood. Let’s just erase that year, okay?

RENT Soundtrack. My friends and I were so obsessed with RENT in high school that we even made up custom lyrics in Calculus class. September 24th, 9 AM, Mountain Standard Time, From here on in we go without a calculator… Yes, we were dorks, but of the cool dork variety, I swear.

Sister Hazel – All For You. This song “belonged” to me and my high school boyfriend, as in it was “our song.” We were pretty googly over each other and the lyrics fit that sentiment pretty well. I look back on that time with mixed feelings because it was a good relationship for the first few years but in the end … it wasn’t. I learned a lot about myself, which is the most you can ask of falling in love at age 16. If this song comes on the radio when I’m with my husband I change the channel.

Ani DiFranco anything. Freshman year of college I was introduced to Ani, who I got to see play live several times in New Orleans. One of my majors was Women’s Studies so this helped me fit right in. Of course, my other major was being a sorority girl, so for every night of staying in listening to feminist folk music there were plenty of nights out inappropriate bootie dancing to dirty rap songs.

Norah Jones – Come Away With Me. This song brings me back to my apartment from senior year at 814 Audubon, staying up late with the roomies writing papers and doing crossword puzzles in my cotton candy pink bedroom. The friendships I made with my roommates were probably the best thing I got out of college.

Outkast – Hey Ya. Whenever I hear this I only think of the Dean campaign. Two odd things to be forever connected.

Jack Johnson – Better Together. Although it was technically the 2nd dance song at our wedding, it was my favorite, and the whimsical tune was perfect for our beach reception. At least until the tequila started flowing, and then the perfect song was probably something bootylicious by Beyoncé or Nelly.

Do any of you have memories attached to these songs, too? Do share in the comments, or even post your own timelines.


  1. Janssen
    March 17, 2008 11:23 pm

    I love RENT too. It reminds me of high school and watching a boy who I had a giant giant multiple year crush on perform it.

    And I started listening to Better Together when I was in London, waiting to get back to my husband and start our new life together in Texas.

    Excellent post.

  2. Jenni
    March 17, 2008 11:39 pm

    Better Together will most likely be our first dance song. It just fits, and I love it!

    Norah Jones reminds me of the summer after college when Jason and I moved in together…I felt so grown up living with a boyfriend. :)

    And, I know how you feel about the Nirvana thing…living in the Seattle area it was even bigger here…I was totally grunge. Yuck!

  3. tia
    March 18, 2008 12:50 am

    the RENT soundtrack reminds me of high school too. i was in the drama club and we unsuccessfully campaigned to have it as our spring musical…that would’ve been fun. also, i listened to it nonstop during a roadtrip from san diego to denver the summer after my high school graduation…i think we heard it all the way through about 5 times.

  4. Lele
    March 18, 2008 2:31 am

    Oh, the Kurt days! What about Nine Inch Nails and how we would obsessively write out the lyrics to ‘Hurt.’ We tried so hard to be depressing.

  5. Operation Pink Herring
    March 18, 2008 9:07 am

    I first heard Red Red Whine when I was a flower girl in my cousin’s wedding and I thought it was the happiest, coolest, most fun song I’d ever heard. I still love it.

  6. Tootie
    March 18, 2008 9:13 am

    I have great memories of Come away with me (Norah Jones).

    Husband picked that song for our first dance at our wedding. I was thrilled with the song choice – and that he made a decision in the wedding planning! :)

  7. Marisa
    March 18, 2008 9:56 am

    The Beatles Love Songs – An old vinyl collection I used to play over and over again when I was a very little girl. I also used to listen to those storytelling vinyls. They came accompanied with a book and it would read the story and provide sound effects. Anyone know what I’m talking about? I think Disney put out a few. I remember jungle book.

    U2 and early Stone Temple Pilots – All my parents listened to during the late 80s and early 90s. They wanted to insulate us from the very bad pop music rampant at the time. Anything from Joshua Tree or Achtung Baby makes me feel 10 yrs old again.

    If You Wanna (??) by Spice Girls – 8th grade. Need I say more? Think horrible choreography and lipsynching 13 yr olds at the 8th grade talent show. lol.

    It’s Been Awhile by Staind – My introduction to emo and my first serious boyfriend. Sounds SO melodramatic to adult ears.

    What You Are by Audioslave – How I got over the aforementioned boyfriend.

    Resurrection, Tupac; The Disco Biscuits; Outkast; a LOT of Bob Marley; Dave Matthews; DJ Tiesto – Ahhhh, College.

    Laura by Charlie Parker – Short but very very sweet. I listen to music w/no words now…

  8. mel
    March 18, 2008 10:40 am

    hmmm….i’ll have to think about this one….there was a lot of cheesy music in my past.

    i think i’m the only one that didn’t care for Rent. I was more into Les Mis. :)

  9. Marriage-101
    March 18, 2008 10:56 am

    I have SO many songs that I connect with special times or special people. I wrote a similar post awhile back. I think of jr. high when I hear Red Red Wine. And when I hear Norah Jones, I think of our wedding reception because that’s what we played during the dinner portion.

  10. Nathan Pralle
    March 18, 2008 11:00 am

    UB40 was one of those bands that, the first time I heard the album with “Red, Red Wine” on it, I was put off — but then again, I was such a musical newbie at the time, having been sequestered by my parents through much of the 80s, so my ears were unaccustomed to good music. Now I love it with a passion, although RRW always makes me depressed.

  11. elise
    March 18, 2008 11:10 am

    Ooh, what about Bush and No Doubt? Those bands, especially the yellow No Doubt cd that stayed in my player in my 9th grade bedroom AD INFINITUM remind me SO much of that time in life.

    I also was one of those who found a song I liked, listened to it over and over, obsessively wrote down the lyrics, and made them custom-match a situation I was currently going through.

    This is a fun idea, I may steal it from you!

  12. Jen
    March 18, 2008 11:21 am

    We’re going to have to do another walk again soon (or maybe just skip the exercise and head to that Italian place we talked about with our hubbies!)…

    A few from my timeline: Montel Jordan “This is how we do it” from my senior year of high school, Vanilla Ice “Ice ice baby” from middle school, Tonic “The Way she Loves me” from when I was 20 years old and going through a divorce, Sheryl Crow and Kid Rock “Picture” from a bad breakup a few years ago… Ah, memories!

  13. ambitiousmrs
    March 18, 2008 12:03 pm

    The funny part about that UB40 song was that that was the only song I had ever heard and when I went to the record store to buy it they told me it was in the reggae section. And I remember thinking, “Reggae? What’s that?”

  14. Tina Vaziri
    March 18, 2008 2:33 pm

    Teehee, I’ll still listen to Sister Hazel All For You sometimes. It’s in my “highschool music” folder that my boyfriend made me.

  15. katelin
    March 18, 2008 2:52 pm

    Ani anything was big for me sophmore year of college because she performed and I had never heard of her before, but I loved her music! It was amazing.

    And Sister Hazel, that song. Oh man. That’s right up there with Delametri’s “Roll to Me” as the best songs ever sung in the shower or dancing in front of a mirror by myself, haha.

  16. Laurel
    March 18, 2008 5:11 pm

    I loved Rent in high school, too. I took my first boyfriend for his birthday to see it in Minneapolis on the first national tour! It’s a really appropriate thing to be attached to as you grow up, I think, because the situation and events that inspired it are now so outdated!

    Case in point, whitey-white-collar AS totally lives between Avenues B and C and we go watch the dog run in Tomkins Square Park (as in “she was huddled in the park, in the dark, and she was freezing…”) after Sunday brunch. Yeah, the neighborhood has changed.

  17. Heidi
    March 18, 2008 5:55 pm

    Rent – my bff from high school and i were obsessed. We’d drive around burlington singing it and blasting the soundtracks driving by all the UVM frat houses hahaha. My bff from like 2nd grade (now my gay bff) sang it at karaoke when he took me shortly before i graduated college. it was this fabulous gay bar in albany one weekend when i went to my dads. It was just what i needed – man is that kid talented!!

    sister hazel – i remember liking that song in high school…middle school…one or the other or both. i associated it with a guy i briefly dated freshman year of college because we listened to it in the car ride back from a ski trip…gah so young!

    Norah Jones – Come Away with me – i met my perfect match in august 2003…i went to NYC to see him and at 4am after sobbing the entire bus ride back to boston i heard that song and “turn me on” as we drove into boston. nothing beat seeing the boston skyline after a long heartbreaking night. I haven’t seen him since but played cat and mouse with him for three years when he was in law school and i was finishing my undergrad

    hey ya – bar nights with pals in college ;)

  18. Michelle & the City
    March 19, 2008 11:25 am

    better together will definitely be played at my wedding. when i have one that is.

    and i had an ani phase in college too. she is wonderful! i’ve seen her live twice now.

  19. Lindsey
    March 19, 2008 11:03 pm

    LOL I wasn’t into Ani, but your description describes my college-feminist life exactly! I was a women’s study minor. And then I’d be at a party…”To the window….to the wall…”

  20. RA
    March 20, 2008 1:35 pm

    The Rent soundtrack, yes! I went through a revisit phase with it just recently, when it was strongly confirmed that I do not, nor did I ever, know all of the lyrics to “La Vie Boheme.”

    One of the songs we played during the photo slideshow at our wedding was “More Today than Yesterday,” and I request it at every DJed wedding reception we go to, now. It’s such an unsung hero of cheesy, lounge-y love songs!

  21. cristina
    March 21, 2008 10:58 pm

    I’ve got “Better Together” on my iPod. I like that song!