Forget what scientists say about the laws of time, physics and gravity: Time travel does exist. Don’t believe me? Go play your top played tracks on iTunes. (Really, pull it up. I don’t mind waiting.) Feel those memories come flooding back, like you are instantly transported to a previous time in your life?
Scientists have proven that songs have a strong tether to memories, life outlooks, feelings and situations. I think that calling them “miniature time-travel nuggets” is much more fun.
Song songs are easy to explain: “Baba Yetu,” for example, is my senior year in high school chorale, and the Christmas tune “Lo, How a Rose Ere Blooming” is the second cantata I did in my church choir. Any track from “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” makes me feel extreme disappointment and self-consciousness,
probably definitely stemming from when I was the only one of my friends not cast in a high school production of the cartoon-based musical. The Rolling Stones “Beast of Burden” is from a corner bar in Paris, anything by Glenn Miller is foever Red Oak, Iowa and Modest Mouses’ anthem “Float On” is my friend Jessa’s 19th birthday. Others, though, take more explanation. A sampling of the songs that have the largest time-travel effect on me:
“Teenage Dream” by Katy Perry
This is one of my favorite songs, not for how it sounds or what the lyrics convey. Rather, it reminds me of freshman move-in. My parents and I got to Creighton’s Kiewit Hall early, and this song was playing on repeat for a solid 45 minutes. I didn’t care: I was slightly scared, extremely excited and confident in myself. My future was full of promise, and everything was shiny and new and wonderful and all mine (except for the communal showers.) I can’t listen to this song without smiling and feeling a little more confident. I also own three different versions of it….this one, this one and this one. That’s how much I like it.
“My Maria” by Brooks & Dunn
Hearing this song takes me back to when I was young, like sitting in the backseat young. I remember trying to sing the chorus in one breath: “MY MARRIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIAAAA.” I could never do it.
This song was on the first CD I ever burned. It was the summer before 7th grade, and my family drove to New Jersey. I must have listened to this song on my personal CD player a thousand times on that trip. (Remember when personal CD players were a thing?) I can still see the Pennsylvania countryside, Ohio river valley and the New Jersey shoreline when I hear this song.
“Come on Eileen” by Dexy’s Midnight Runners & Kevin Rowland.
Ah, “Come on Eileen.” Who doesn’t love this catchy little ditty from the 1980s with a driving beat and an awesome brass section? Me. I hate it. This song is evil. (I am listening to it right now, and my stomach is churning. My hands just started to sweat, and my heartbeat has picked up.) I hear this song and do everything in my power to stop it: change the radio station, leave a room, wail and gnash my teeth louder than the music, etc. Why? Because the last time I listened to this song, I nearly died. (I am not just being dramatic here: I literally almost perished.)
Those opening violin notes instantly transport me to winter break last year. I am driving my best friends from Kearney to Hays, Kansas, to visit another one of our group. It is late, and the roads are covered in snow and ice. We nearly canceled our trip over an impending blizzard, but we decide to make the trek anyways.
This song is playing on the radio as we slowly creep along the two-lane highway. Around the 2:50 mark of the song, we climb a hill with a sharp drop-off on one side and a large snowbank on the other. When the song hits 3:20, (the part where it speeds up, faster and faster and faster,) a snowplow passes us, heading in the opposite direction. In a cloud of flying gray snow I can’t see anything, and the car swerves out of control. We are spinning and spinning, all over the road, first towards the drop-off, then over by the snowbank, and I think to myself, “I am going to die right now. I am going to kill my three best friends. It will be in the newspaper tomorrow: Girl, friends die in snowy accident. My dad will be so pissed.”
The car eventually stops, and we are (miraculously) upright and unharmed. Inside the car, it is dead silent. Yes, apparently during the spinning-out-of-control debacle of (near) death, I turned off the music. Apparently, I decided that I was not going to die listening to the synthesized sounds of “Come on Eileen.” (But really, can you blame me?)
Summer 2007: Back when Rihanna wasn’t all tatted up, Taylor Swift had curly hair and the Plain White T’s were popular. Any one of these songs conjures up my first summer working at Harmon Park Pool. They will forever be associated with extreme heat, lots of perspiration, the smell of sunscreen and multitudes of naughty children.
What songs have the biggest “time-travel” effect on you?