I’ve been wearing a pair of headphones pretty much continuously since junior high school. Some people might be surprised to learn that my headphones weren’t surgically grafted onto my head at birth. So, with the amount of listening I do, you would be excused for thinking that I must have accumulated dozens of song/event combinations to choose from for this challenge.
Strangely, none of the conventional big events in my life (high school graduation, university graduations, first date(s), first day of work, the births of my nieces, the passings of my grandma and dad, driving my first new car off the lot, taking posession of my house) seem to be linked to music. My high school graduation song was “Youth Gone Wild” by Skid Row, which I remember only because it was a completely terrible choice that embarassed us all.
But one day from last summer does stand out. A friend of mine had decided that she wanted to try something different, so she told me she was leaving the place where we worked together. On her second-to-last day in our office, our close-knit team hosted a pot-luck lunch for her at the office as a way of saying thanks, goodbye, and good luck. Bread was broken, stories were shared, and everyone enjoyed being together for one last bittersweet time. I was heartbroken at first that my friend was leaving, but I eventually realized that she was making the right decision for her career. She’s a very smart lady – always looking to the horizon and beyond. With any luck, we will work together again some day.
The song that was playing in my car on the way to work that day, and ringing in my head all through the lunch, was “Madder Red” from Yeasayer’s 2010 album Odd Blood. It wasn’t the lyrics that got to me; I don’t really know what the song is about. With the benefit of hindsight, it kind of sounds like the shrapnel of an unfortunate dissolution of a relationship, which isn’t really appropriate to my situation. 99% of the time it’s not the literal lyrics but the music (the melodies and the rhythms) that wraps around my DNA. And the music in this song is very affecting, with gorgeous synthesizers and layers on layers of programming and snippets of guitar in all the right spots. I think the tension and release in the music, the anxiety and the resolution, the sorrow and the joy must have shared some kind of wavelength with how I was feeling at the time. To this day, I have no idea how I managed to get to work that day without crashing my car, but I defy you to listen to the bass synth programming in this Yeasayer track and not feel SOMETHING stirring in the bowels of your soul.
It was a tough & emotional day, but I muddled through intact (and so did my friend). And now I have “Madder Red” as a souvenir that I can carry with me forever to remind me that I don’t always have to be a soulless robot that hides behind the defence mechanisms of nonchalance and sarcasm. Sometimes it’s okay to let your guard down, even for a moment, and genuinely care about someone.