November 12, 2007

i admit i have questionable taste in music

Posted in so much for my anonymity at 11:07 am by squishy

It’s relatively common knowledge that scent acts as a very strong trigger for memory. A certain detergent can remind you of an ex. The smell of cinnamon and nutmeg may evoke some memory of family gatherings. After a tumultuous date with your domestic porcelain god, the mere whiff of vodka can make you retch.

In my case, music has a similar effect.

I can’t seem to extricate my personal experiences from the music I listened to at that time. Norah Jones will remind me of my summer interning in New York. The Foo Fighters’ ‘There Is Nothing Left to Lose’ will forever be linked to my sophomore and junior years of high school. An ex absolutely hated Creed’s ‘Higher,’ so I occasionally blast it, partly out of spite and partly out of a fonder remembrance. I adored the Goo Goo Dolls in high school (yeah, yeah). But when I shipped off for college, I couldn’t touch those CDs for a very long time; just hearing the first few bars of ‘Black Balloon’ was enough to bring homesick tears to my eyes.

Similarly, I cherish John Mayer’s debut CD, not because it has any great musical merit, but because his songs kept me company. I made the mistake of taking a computer science class one semester, and while my friends were enjoying the unseasonably warm spring, I was stuck in the library, debugging my gibberish code and trying to figure out what the hell I had done wrong this time. It sounds truly stupid in retrospect, but because it was too late to drop the course, I was nothing short of miserable. I can name many, many instances where I wanted to throw my computer out of my fourth floor window (a la Office Space). John Mayer kept me off the ledge.

After I broke up with my recent ex, I couldn’t listen to a few specific songs. Not because he liked those songs, or because they were particularly romantic, but because they were in heavy rotation when we first met and started ‘hanging out.’ After 2 and a half years together, we succumbed to one of the most potent relationship-killers: distance. It dulled/weathered our relationship down to a decent friendship, making it all the more easier when we had to face the inevitable. I broke it off, and haven’t thought of him in over a year. I know we are better off this way, and to tell the truth, I don’t miss him in the least… at least not anymore. But when these songs accidentally make it onto my playlists, they will jellify my innards. Sometimes I well up, depending on the time of the month, and I don’t quite know why.

I guess this says a bit about my coping mechanism: I avoid. It’s been over a year and a half since I last saw him, but I still skip over those songs. I purposely don’t use the ‘random play’ function on iTunes/my iPod because I can’t bring myself to delete them but I don’t want to listen to them, either. I used to love those songs, and it pains me that I still have this silly, visceral reaction to them. I wish it would go away.

Perhaps you’ll be able to enjoy them instead.

Bare Naked Ladies – Old Apartment
Neve – Absent
The Corrs feat. Bono – When the Stars Go Blue
Zwan – Honestly
Santana & Chad Kroeger – Why Don’t You and I
Tom Waits – Please Call Me Baby

Come to think of it, I haven’t heard a Goo Goo Dolls song in quite a few years. Maybe I’ll dig out my CDs this weekend.

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