my soundtrack

I do this thing on trips, particularly when I’m flying, and particularly when I’m flying alone. I listen to one artist the entire duration, over and over again. Amazingly, I don’t get sick of the music. Instead, it becomes the soundtrack to that trip and its memories.

I didn’t realize I did this until last month’s trip to Phoenix. When I uploaded my pictures, Ellie Goulding’s “Lights” album — the music that kept me sane for 10 hours of flying and a 100 degree walk through downtown — popped into my head.
{I dedicate those lyrics to the cactus who attacked me}
Suddenly it was clear that I’ve been doing this as long as I can remember. John Mayer’s Room for Squares reminds me of something. It’s not a smell, a taste, or a touch, but at the same time it’s all of those things. I bought that CD at the Irvine Spectrum in Orange County while visiting my brother and sister in law the day after my high school graduation. To this day, that music is a mixture of excitement and terror at the thought of college, the smell of my brother and sister in law’s new house, and the predictability and openness of their cookie cutter desert neighborhood.
Coldplay’s Speed of Sound is a cold summer day, running through Hyde Park and just making out the top of the London Eye. It’s pride at taking a risk and studying abroad and curiosity at what would thrill me next in that foreign city.
She & Him is my perfect winter — snowed in at a bookstore (Powell’s, no less), and seeing the sky open up and just snow for the first time.
Sara Bareilles’s kaleidoscope Heart is the first day of fall, walking along Lake Michigan, orange leaves, pumpkin donuts, best friends and spontaneity.
Even our honeymoon had an unintentional soundtrack, thanks to its proximity to the recent death of a pop icon.
I’m flying to Florida next week and now that I’m conscious of my soundtracking habit, I’ll probably ruin it. But I’d like to at least do it to some good music, so any recommendations for the album I put on repeat? I’m thinking the latest Deathcab for Cutie or Adele.
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9 thoughts on “my soundtrack

  1. If you don't mind throwing a bit of synthesizers & upbeat tempo into the mix, I might suggest Santogold's self-titled album, or It's Blitz! by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Have a great trip!

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  2. This post makes me super happy- I'm the same way about connecting songs & music to experiences. Some of my favorite albums for summer (other than Adele, Ellie G and DCFC's) are below:
    – Jason Mraz's “We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things”
    – Florence & the Machine's “Lungs” with the B-sides
    – Augustana's new self-titled album
    – Graham Colton's “Pacific Coast Eyes”
    – “The OC, Mix 1” Soundtrack (trust me, it's amazing beach music!)

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  3. This might be my favorite blog that you've ever written just because I do the SAME exact thing. Michael Jackson also inadvertantly became the soundtrack to the entire week of my wedding and honeymoon. The “Away We Go” soundtrack is my soundtrack of cross country flights to Seattle. Backstreet Boys' “Millenium” album was playing while I was glued to the window down route 95 to Philadelphia to see my sister at Villanova in 7th grade. John Mayer's “Room for Squares” is my sophomore year of high school… I still remember the smell of the bus seats on the 45 minute ride to my high school and slapping my discman over and over every time the battery threatened to die. Fall Out Boy's “From Under the Cork Tree” is the soundtrack of my entire first year with Chuck.

    (See, you're getting me on a roll of nostalgia here! I LOVE this post!!!)

    For Florida, I highly recommend “The Suburbs” by Arcade Fire or “Too Young to Fight It” by Young Love.

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  4. …which now I'm listening to at work.

    And I know exactly what you mean; for example: Everytime I hear the great Britney Spears' “Don't Go Knock My Door” I am immediately taken back to sitting in the back of my parent's green minivan driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina with my good friend at the time, who happened to be our Rabbi's son.

    …good times.

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  5. Clearly this post was a mistake, now I'm not sure how I'll choose which music!

    Colette – I'm also a fan of Fashion Island 🙂

    Casey – that is EXACTLY what I'm talking about! What else in the world could bring back something as obscure as the smell of the school bus?

    David – 1. I don't listen to EG at work because I don't want to taint her music and have it remind me of work. Is that weird? 2. I don't know that Britney song. WTF?! This needs to be remedied immediately. And 3, was this the same trip where you drove around Cade's Cove and your van broke down?

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  6. This is amazing! I do the exact thing with music. I associate Lifehouse's debut album with the streets of NYC because I listened to it on my entire HS senior class trip. The Arcade Fire, the Suburbs (I definitely second Casey on this recommendation) reminds me of the smell of fall, preparing for a new job and taking colorful nature walks with my pup.

    I also recommend Best Coast if you're looking for girlie/summer/beachy music.

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  7. 1. you have excellent taste in music. nevermind that i most likely believe this because it so closely mirrors my own.

    2. you read my blog! this is awesome. don't stop. it led me to YOUR blog. which is also awesome.

    3. doesn't med school suck? i was both a med student AND a med student spouse. both were equally challenging. so kudos to you for doing what you do.

    can't wait to hear more of your adventures…my residency adventure is just starting. so far, it's a lot of paperwork. stay tuned…

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