(Note: This post originally appeared on my blogspot blog here. Datestamped footnotes with commentary may have been added for my own reflection and amusement.)
One of my favorite little things about music is certain songs or albums seem intertwined with certain events or time periods in the past. I tend to listen to music in full album form rather than individual songs so for me this makes certain albums seem much better than they are, and other really great albums get tainted (although a couple albums I really liked have risen above this).
For the most part when this happens, various albums just evoke certain memories without affecting my thoughts on the music. Every time I hear any track off of Led Zeppelin IV I get a very vivid mental image of riding a school bus to a cross country meet. Maybe the fact that this record singlehandedly spurred my ‘good music’ awakening implanted that experience into my brain.
The White Stripes’ Elephant and Queens of the Stone Age’s Rated R transplant me into the mostly empty apartment Justin and I lived in off campus over the summer at Purdue. Blind Melon’s first record and the first Hootie cd take me to the balcony of that same apartment earlier in the year sitting and bullshitting with Cole and Justin Karr, but there doesn’t seem to be a real pattern into what ties a specific piece of music in with any specific memory or timeframe.
Oddly enough, my favorite instance of this involves an album that I listened to incessantly during one of the most emotional and depressing times of my life. I was mostly lonely with most of my friends having moved away, and smack in the middle of a transition phase of my life- deciding where I was going post college and consumed with job interviews and final projects. I was in the process of dealing with a genuine heartbreak and in complete denial that I was suffering from any such thing, and maybe that’s what helped The Wrens’ The Meadowlands become the album that evokes the fall of 2005 more vividly than most other musical memories.
The Meadowlands is a slightly noisy indie rock record made up mainly of retrospectives on many topics, but like most of the very best and worst music, relationships are the main subject. I listened to the first two tracks of this album on my shower cd player nearly every day for a couple of months, and given the subject matter puts me in probably one of my all time great emo states of mind. She Sends Kisses is a track that could probably compete to be in my top five favorite songs. The Boy is Exhausted and Faster Gun are great upbeat tracks, and Ex-Girl Collection and Everyone Choose Sides have titles that can tell you exactly what they’re about- but the lyrics are brilliant.
13 months in 6 minutes is also pretty self explanatory, but it tells a completely non unique story that is so vivid it brings to mind every relationship that started hot and flared out, or even had the possibility to do so. The last track is short, but sends such a piercing and emotional yelling note up your spine it’s one of my favorite 5 seconds in rock music, and definitely among the most bitter and sad.
The Meadowlands may have been written in the garden state and about a collection of experiences that occurred there, but every time I hear it I’m sitting in a threadbare apartment on Yeager Road feeling sorry for myself- and I always keep listening.
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