First of all, it’s important to know that, often, the girls in question don’t know that I have attributed their memory with a particular tune. I have never bought into the idea of “our song’. It’s cliché, and moreover, it’s art. It’s everyone’s and no one’s. I don’t think anyone owns the rights to Happy Birthday, for example. I’ve had relationships, I’ve had one night stands, and even though I’ve slept with my fair share of women, I only have a handful of girls that I think of when the right song comes on the radio. In the interests of privacy for the parties involved, I have changed the names of the women to girl’s names I’ve never been connected to. But, if these girls were to read this entry, it’s entirely possible they’ll know to whom I’m referring.
Sublime – Santeria: Way back when the internet wasn’t as big as it is today, and before I had even considered smoking weed or listening to stoner music, this girl told me about this song by this band. I don’t even remember where I found it for the first time, but it worked. I had just come out of a long relationship, and I was fairly inexperienced in relationships and women in general. My ex girlfriend was smart, straight laced, and very vanilla (in a completely non offensive way. Average, as opposed to bland.) Then I met Lisa. She was the complete opposite. Beautiful, tiny, and worldly (she spoke Spanish!), she took a big part of my heart, largely in part because I had a big crush on her when I was attached (so sue me) and after one or two beers I told her, whereupon she told me she felt the same. That is the best feeling in the world. Anyway, she told me about this band Sublime that sounded so Latin and different (this, by the way, was long after Bradley had commited suicide). Incidentally, though I don’t really like the band, I can also attribute Dashboard Confessional’s “Hands Down” to a memory where we slept on her couch after getting naked together. I woke up, and the rain was beating down on the corrugated glass you sometimes get on greenhouses in England, and remembering that, for a moment, time had stopped.
Frank Sinatra – One for my Baby (and One More for the Road): This is a funny one. I never heard it in the brief time I was with Paula, but it resonated with me the day after she ended it. I had been, for want of a better word, a man slut, for the better part of 2 years, and after meeting Paula, thought she was something real, something long term, and I’m pretty sure she felt the same. For reasons I won’t go into, it didn’t work out, but the feeling of desolation was hard. It wasn’t even the being dumped; it was the complete blindsiding of the break up. Frank’s voice sounds like the lyrics are coming to him as though in conversation, and the lone piano blues accompaniment exemplifies the loneliness. You can just picture the glass of whiskey in Sinatra’s hands as he sits at the empty bar, Joe the bartender polishing glassware listening to his sole customer after hours.
Rolling Stones – Gimme Shelter: The best lay I’ve ever had. It was so different, so raw, like two people that know it’s the end of the world; primal. We bonded when we met over our love of the Stones, and she asked me to play Gimme Shelter – on repeat – as we got down to it. And it’s fuckin’ hot. I still can’t hear that song without thinking of that night.
End of Fashion – Oh Yeah: I almost got married once. Like to the point where my dad offered me $1000 toward buying a ring. Fortunately, in the long term, Natasha ended it before I left my favourite place in the world to move to Melbourne, Australia. I would have missed the Olympics, as well as some truly fantastic days on the hill. I’m not cut out for big city living anyway. End of Fashion is an Australian band, and Oh Yeah was her ringtone the 2 years we were together.
Willie Nelson – Remember Me: You know what’s awesome for break ups? Country music. When Natasha called me and said “Don’t move here; I don’t love you anymore”, Willie Nelson had my back. Even though you feel like you’re alone, country singers remind you that everyone gets dumped. Willie’s voice is so humble, so sweet, it’s comforting in the way that your buddies might say “I never liked that bitch anyway” just to make you feel better. As a matter of fact, the entirety of Red Headed Stranger is ideal for those bad days, as it tells a story of a man that killed the woman he loved and her lover. Country’s answer to the concept album.
Hugh Laurie – Let Them Talk: I met this girl Molly that came up from Vancouver, and I was floored. Blonde, big blue eyes, Ivy League education, and, most importantly, she laughed at my stories. We had a lot of fun that summer when she came up on weekends (her parents owned a place in Creekside), but deep down I knew it was short lived. The first night I went to her place, there was no speaker set up but I did have my phone on me, with Laurie’s album, so I put it on the coffee table, and we got close on her couch... Maybe I misremember, but the final track, Let Them Talk, was when I kissed her. It’s a great song that classes up “Haters Gonna Hate”, and in a way it’s incredibly romantic.
Music, like smell, has the ability to call up long forgotten memories. It is one of the anchors to the past that we need to remember our past, and in some cases, to learn from it.