May 29, 2013

Musical Memories

Day 29: Five songs or pieces of music that speak to you or bring back memories.

I felt so excited for this post because it reminded me of a project I did at the end of high school wherein I created a soundtrack for the past four years of my life. It was so much fun to think back on the songs that defined certain moments and years, and I definitely used that as an inspiration for this post. These aren't necessarily all of my favorite songs, but they're some of the ones that I associate with specific moments in my life. 

"Papel de Plata" by Inti-Illimani

This is a Chilean folk group from the 1970s, and they are a major part of my cultural and family identity. The military coup that happened in 1973 in Chile forced my father to flee his home country, and when he eventually settled in New York and created a life with my mom, this music was always playing in our house. My dad plays guitar, and it still brings me so much joy to hear him sing the political folk songs of his generation and country. I chose this song because while there are better known Inti songs, this quieter song makes me settle down, listen to the words, and feel a bit somber. It's a song that I "discovered" on my own, and so it's a bit special to me. 

"American Pie" by Don MacLean

I don't care if people groan when they hear this. To me, it brings me back to my days at summer camp, also known as nerd camp since it was one of those programs for "gifted and talented youth" that involved taking advanced classes and being total dorks. Going to nerd camp was a defining experience for me. In middle school I started to feel really bad for being one of the smart kids, and I felt lonely and weird for wanting to learn. Attending camp was such a liberating experience because it let me feel good about being smart and gave me so much more confidence to go back to school and not apologize for who I was. I really think my life would have been completely different without this particular program. Anyway, every weekend at camp we would have a giant dance on the quad, and without fail, "American Pie" was the very last song played. The entire camp had certain choreographed moves and revised lyrics to go along with it, and it was awesome to be part of a giant dance party and sing at the top of my lungs with my new friends. "American Pie" is freedom.

"Hey Jealousy" by the Gin Blossoms

I had a very tight-knit group of friends by the end of high school, and it was hard to say goodbye to them when one by one we left for college at the end of the summer. The night before each of us left, we  all piled into somebody's car, drove down to the beach to climb up on the lifeguard tower, and then blasted "Hey Jealousy" as we dropped off the girl who was leaving the next day. There were tears and hugs, and then we played the song again on our way to our own homes. It was such a lovely tradition, and this song reminds me of how meaningful and unforgettable relationships like that can be.

"Mrs. Deegan" by John Estacio
In college, I sang with a women's chorus, and we were fortunate to sing a beautiful repertoire each year. "Mrs. Deegan" is part of a larger piece called "Eulogies," and we first sang it when I was a freshman in the choir. It can be a difficult piece to song if the choir isn't cohesive, and I remember when we finally mastered it, we all had chills and tears in our eyes. It was revived again when I was a senior, and singing this piece at my final concert gave the seniors such a feeling of accomplishment and the sense of having come full circle. I stood next to one of my best friends, and I remember that during that concert we kept reaching over to hold the other's hand as we sang. I'm fairly sure that I had tears streaming down my face as we sang together. 

"All For Nothing" by Face to Face

I first listened to Face to Face on one of those punk compilations everyone had in high school, and I even remember seeing them at a show in London when I was sixteen. They've never been a favorite band, and I couldn't tell you much about them, to be honest. Still, right before we got engaged, when the hubs said that he wanted to play me one of their songs because it made him think of me, I figured I would probably like it. "All For Nothing" was the song, and he played it over and over that summer until finally he proposed. This song quickly became the theme of our engagement, and we decided it should be the song for our first dance. It's definitely not traditional, but it's so much fun, and it absolutely fits our style and relationship. We had a blast taking dance lessons and finally performing in front of our guests, and even though I messed up the steps, I was too busy hysterically laughing the entire time to care. At the end of our dance, we grabbed our guests to come join us on the dance floor, and soon the entire room was filled with people jumping up and down and spinning around. It was fantastic!!

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