It’s just after 4:30AM and I’m sitting at my kitchen table drinking apple cinnamon tea. The only lights on in the whole place are from the Christmas tree and the glow from the screen of my laptop. The house is creepy quiet. The rain is beating off the kitchen window and I hear the faint beeping of a truck backing up somewhere.
This is just about my favourite part of the day. There are people who get up with just enough time to get ready and get to work. I’m not that guy. I love being alone. I love sitting in a clean, quiet place. Quiet until I start to get ready and turn on the music.
My obsessive nature carries over into my music. I’ll listen to anything, but whatever I’m into at any given moment I’m going to play about 4000 times a day until I ruin it for myself and everyone around me. You know in Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men” how Lennie really wants a mouse, a rabbit, or a puppy dog but when he finally gets one he pets them so excitedly he accidentally kills them? That’s me. I love things to death.
The music is always a strange mix. The Arkells are playing now. They became the soundtrack for this past summer after seeing them at a festival downtown. But it’s just as likely that the Foo Fighters, Bruno Mars, or John Fogarty will be on next. Notorious BIG, Conway Twitty, and The Barra MacNeil’s are all on there too.
I have an iTunes playlist I’ve called “Time Machine.” I hope you can relate to this, or you’re going to think I’m crazy.
Sometimes a song comes on and with the first few notes you’re transported back to a moment you’ve lived before. We do this with more than music. I walked past a woman in the mall a few weeks ago and the smell of her perfume put me back in Mrs. MacDonald’s Grade 2 class at Brookside Elementary School at home in Glace Bay.
It’s the same thing with music.
Eve 6 plays and I’m smoking a cigarette on the backstep of parents house at 2AM wondering where I lost my keys. The song was on in the cab before it dropped me off.
ColdPlay comes on. It’s 3AM and I wake up alone on my girlfriend’s couch. It’s winter and I see my car is running outside. She went out for a smoke. I have work in a few hours so I throw on my jacket and go out. We have reached the point of comfortable silence so I sit behind the wheel while she finishes her smoke. She kisses me goodnight, neither us talking, both of us yawning and crusty-eyed, she leans in the door and says “press play” before closing it and going inside. As I pull out of her driveway I hear Chris Martin sum up our relationship in on perfect line. I smiled for days.
Gwen Stefani and Mary J Blige. . . I’m 19 at the Guildwood and up to no good.
Hot in Here by Nelly. I’m spending the weekend with friends at St. FX and I can taste cotton candy on my lips.
The Bare Naked Ladies – Alcohol – Me and my brother and any night of debauchery.
The Killer’s – Here with Me. “Don’t want your picture on my cell phone, I want you here with me.” They’re not all break-up songs I swear.
There are 45 songs on that list and each one takes me back to some of the strongest memories I have.
I noticed something interesting the other night. There isn’t a song on that list from 2002 – 2012.
Songs don’t make the memories worth remembering, the people do. That whole ten years wasn’t a write off – there would be good moments in there, but those memories don’t feel like mine. That can’t be healthy.
So a new goal for next weekend: add songs from those years, and make an effort to remember the people and times that didn’t suck. I’m only shortchanging myself if I pretend that decade didn’t exit just because I now judge the decisions I was making back then. I have to accept that time, not simply write it off.