Think about a song that means everything to you. Now think about how nobody, not one soul, has the connection that you have with that song. Nobody, except you, has that.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how we use music to mark sections of time in our life, and how so much can change, so quickly. How we associate music with moments. Melodies with memories. How certain songs and certain albums set up camp in certain cracks of the past, and will never leave, no matter how hard you make them try. I can’t listen to Wincing the Night Away without thinking of D.C. Gemini and that one lightning storm. Devotion, and every night I’ve spent alone. Kid A, and my long night drives back from that house.
The music never changes. What changes is you.
I found the Strokes when I was 14, and they changed my life, completely. I can’t listen to Is This It or Room on Fire without thinking about every god damn moment of my teenage evolution, and all the ridiculousness that existed within. But it wasn’t ridiculous. It was real.
Two can be complete without the rest of the world.
The music never changes. For a long time, ‘Red Light’ was probably what I would give you when asked what my favorite song of all time is. It maybe still is, I’m not sure. But for a long time, this song meant everything to me. I would listen to it at all times of the day, soaking in every note and every word, as if the sun itself was powered by this single song.
I used to think for a long time that when you started associating songs with people in your life, you were playing with fire. I mean, if something goes horribly awry, can you ever really listen to that song again? Can you listen to it the way you used to? Recently I’ve changed my stance, mostly because of how fascinating it is, to me at least, how the lyrics themselves inside that one fucking song can change and transform themselves, depending on what is and was happening to you, in this and that moment. I used to listen to ‘Red Light’ and fixate myself on “Two can be complete without the rest of the world,” and simply smile, knowing how true and real those words were. Then things changed, and all I could hear when I spun ‘Red Light’ were lines like “I can still see yesterday, sailing away.” And maybe I’d still be smiling, but I’d be crying, too.
When I listen to ‘Red Light’ now, I find myself thinking about someone else; someone new. I find myself thinking about every old night, but now there are new days. And I find myself getting lost, hanging onto new lines.
“I saw your face and I heard that song. It was so inviting, it hurt my bones.”
“I don’t want you to be afraid and go.”
“Two can be complete without the rest of the world.”
It’s very alright if you don’t like the Strokes. But I hope you like music, and I hope you like living. And I hope you like remembering. People might not be supposed to look back, but sometimes the music brings you somewhere. Every song means something to somebody. Listen to ‘Red Light’, just once. And know that those simple three minutes and twelve seconds hold years of confusion and hope inside of them, just for one person. I know you have songs like this too. And you’ll have more. Just remember what my favorite track says every time you listen to some new song: