Music has always rocked my world.
I find it inspiring and comforting. Its ability to bring me back in time to a single moment or instill excitement about moments to come perpetually pleases me. There are few things in life that prompt this type of spontaneous stroll down memory lane. Consider this: you can stumble upon a memory, the good, the bad, and the ugly, with something as simple as cruising to FM radio, looking through a jukebox or giving your iPod the reigns with Shuffle mode.
I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve heard a strum of a guitar, a DJ mixing beats, the keys of a piano or a hum of an artist and unlocked the past to moments and events like: the dance routine I choreographed with my girlfriend Amber in the 5th grade; when I told my high school sweetheart that I was going to the Prom with someone else; the time I spilt an entire bottle of coke in my lap and had to air dry my skirt out Jennifer’s car window on our way to a party; the trip to Mexico when I danced poolside for hours on end with my mama and her girlfriends; that wild college party (I say that loosely, there were many. And certain songs are the only real evidence that those nights ever happened!!); my college graduation; my trip to Italy with my nonna and mama; dancing in Vegas with thousands of my closest friends; crying in bed all by myself; feeling in love and hoping it lasts; breaking up yet again and eventually letting go.
I also depend on music to do the things that I can’t do by myself. When I need to be strong, I feel as though I can pluck the lyrics right out of a song and wield a shield out of them. I’ll admit it, when words evade me I use lyrics to text or facebook how I feel. And when I’m unable to provide myself the support that I need, it’s like the lyrics flow right out of my iPod and swirl all around me, touching my heart and embracing my pain; they give me the strength that I can’t find in myself.
I suppose that music has also cradled my world.
That being said, here is my musical journey:
I am an 80s baby in every sense of the term. According to my blunt mother, I was conceived to Van Halen’s Jump. I knew every word to Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet album; and never hesitated to belt out the lyrics every time my mama popped in the cassette. Now can you imagine a toddler singing, with absolute conviction, “working for her man, she brings home her pay for love – for love?” (Well believe it, and love the fact that I just did the very same thing in the backseat of my boss’s car on our way to a business trip earlier this week!) I recall most kids my age wearing Nickelodeon t-shirts, but I rocked my t-shirt from Aerosmith’s Get a Grip Tour on a regular basis. Some kids hummed nursery rhymes; I jammed rock ballads.
In the 5th grade I rocked my parents’ world when I fell in love with hip-hop. I played my Gangsta’s Paradise soundtrack on repeat every day after school until it became riddled with scratches and refused to bump out of my boombox. I wanted to name my dog Tupac, but my parents thought it absurd. That dance that Amber and I choreographed was to Whoop! There it is! by Tag Team. Over the years, I’ve swayed my hips and bobbed my head at numerous concerts and even finagled my way to the stage to dance alongside Dem Franchise Boys, Ray J and Chris Brown – pre his Rihanna outrage, of course. Juicy J once complimented my flashy style after I charmed a bouncer into letting my girlfriends and I roam around backstage. And I’ve been to more Snoop Dogg concerts than I care to admit.
I think I developed an addiction to country music when I experienced my first break-up in middle school, because I’ve been faithful to its allure ever sense. I have two preset buttons dedicated to country stations in the event of heartbreak. But I’ve also come to appreciate the genre’s genuine way of expressing love. Every female singer says what I’ve always wanted to say and every male singer is like my Ken doll; I just want what he’s saying to be true and to happen to me. My girlfriend Sara and I have even contemplated moving to Nashville to marry cowboys. This idea seems like the ultimate fix – so we’re not ruling it out just yet.
I’ve recently become obsessed with dance and house music. This is probably because I’ve frequented more clubs and partied harder in the last 9 months than I ever have in 25 years. I’ve also taken a new approach to heartache. I like to call it Dance it off. There is something inexplicably liberating about dancing to music that’s louder than my thoughts. The lyrics are occasionally foreign, always heartfelt and sometimes even ridiculous, but the music never ceases to engulf me. Even in a room full of people, I can close my eyes and lose myself.
Being the hopeless romantic that I am, particular songs will always resonate with me. Here is my love affair with music:
When my parents split up, I played Wonderful Now by Everclear on repeat for hours on end for nearly two years. And still to this day, whenever I hear Journey’s Faithfully I recall the better days of my childhood.
When I need to break it off with someone or get out from under someone’s thumb, I jam Mariah Carey’s Shake it Off through my Corolla speakers on full blast. I find it subliminal is a way. I’m hoping to convince myself that moving on is best and that it won’t be all that painful. At the very least, it’s a fun song to sing along to.
When I started regularly listening to Nelly Furtado’s All Good Things Come to an End and humming along to Fergie’s Big Girls Don’t Cry, I realized that my college sweetheart just wasn’t “the one.” Only now do I see that I threw a quality catch back into waters that are seriously lacking tens. And I’m reminded of this every single time my iPod finds these songs. Shuffle is, without a doubt, a love/hate relationship.
Since then, I’ve been listening to Rihanna’s Take a Bow every time some new heart-throb tricks me like it’s Halloween. The lyrics somehow seem to sting more when you know that you only have yourself to blame. So in an effort to take some responsibility for my tears and triumphantly forge ahead to my next ex, I blare Since You’ve Been Gone by Kelly Clarkson. Talk about empowerment sister!
I adopted the Dance it Off approach when the most beautiful person I’d ever laid my lips on or began a life with changed his mind. Even months later, I hated that I still wondered what it would have felt like to see his perfect nose on top of a baby’s face, so I sought refuge in David Guetta’s Gettin Over You and Calvin Harris’s You Used to Hold Me. They helped me lose my mind when my memories were driving me mad. And all the Just Jamie dancing wasn’t bad for my bod either. But true to my country junkie self, I woke each morning with sore thighs and a raging headache and depended on Jaron and the Long Road to Love to help me find humor in my humiliating heartache with Pray for You. Call it my version of Sunday School.
When I broke the man’s heart, whom I genuinely hoped would still love me when my teeth are no longer mine, my wrinkled hands shake all the time and I need help remembering my memories, even with a musical aide, broke my heart right back, I felt like literally every single song was speaking to me. I sobbed in tune to Third Eye Blind’s How’s it Going to Be. I never anticipated there being a day when we no longer knew each other. So in an effort to outrun my heartbreak, I slipped into my running kicks and ran 4 miles to Leona Lewis’s Better in Time on repeat. I’ve never once ran that far. If I ever meet Leona, I won’t hesitate to hug her, even if I’m sweaty. When I wonder how long I’ll be running for, I listen to Martina McBride’s Wrong Baby Wrong; I long to sit down with her in hopes of absorbing just an ounce of her courage and practicality. It really isn’t the end of the world. I am going to be just fine. Eventually. I’m resilient if nothing else. And I always taste my tears through a smile whenever La Roux encourages me to be Bulletproof, next time that is.
As my 26th birthday approaches, I can’t help but wonder what the next year will bring. I foresee champagne, dancing, laughter, tears, love, joy, hurt, travel, success and happiness. Memories to cherish. Memories to forget. But I know for certain that music will touch me, move me and cure me. And years from now I know that it’ll also bring me back to 26.
Music makes my world go round.