Saturday, March 3, 2012

Romantic Old Songs and Singalongs

I rarely listen to new music, these days. Sometimes it seems like too much effort. So, I turn to old songs I love. Stars or Camera Obscura or Belle & Sebastian--even if I think I've grown out of my twee phrase, it is these comforting songs, songs where I know every line with eyes closed, songs that evoke a mood I already know so well, songs I've sang along with in the car and alone in my bedroom in San Diego, songs I pegged as soundtracks to the people and places and things that happened in my past (get me away from here I'm dying, play me a song to set me free).

A few years ago, any time I had a new crush, I made a mixtape, a playlist, just for him. Sometimes I burned it onto a CD, and wrote the tracklist by hand, after I meticulous arranged each song so that the mood, lyrics and order flowed perfectly, and delivered it in some perhaps trying to be nonchalant way. I thought I would remember each crush, as vividly as the color of his eyes or the way he smiled, simply from the songs. I still have a few playlists in my iPod, but I can no longer decipher message that I wanted to inscribe between the lines. I remember how I obsessed over certain lines of certain songs, marveled over how perfect, how fitting it seemed to be. Maybe I have a better grasp of reality now, or at least a more self conscious awareness of my tendency to romanticize (it's not love, no it's nothing like that).

But maybe I cling to these songs I know because sometimes I long to not know better, to abandon myself to these exaggerated emotions, painted sentiments. Maybe it's a cheap, easy thrill, to swirl up nostalgia and longing and sadness, with the easy click of a few buttons, and remember when it all seemed so much more real. And maybe it's because now, I'm much more frightened of feeling what was so easy then (when you sing you're the sweetest thing / I would trade my mother to hear you sing).

Something I always wanted to do with a boy (though it rarely ever happened): to drink until we're laughing and the veneer of discomfort has worn off, to play my favorite songs, to sing along, and sing to him, with conviction behind every line (I wish my heart was as cold as the morning dew/ but it's as warm as saxophones and honey in the sun for you).


  1. this post is lovely and very laura. you should give me a call or a message. <3, Riley (I remember you're mixtapes, not like it was yesterday, but i wish it was yesterday)

  2. Another very well written and moving read. Believe it or not I could understand your cling for music you learned to love. As you said, they are comforting, and create moods that you are familiar with, of a better time, of a time you held dear to your heart. I am like that towards Buddy Holly music and Smashing Pumpkins, reminds me of happier times. In psychology we call that Pavlovian association or Classical Conditioning and it works better than you or I can imagine.