9 Music Memories

an original acoustic challenge

“Music is the emotional life of most people.” — Leonard Cohen

The experience of music has always played a significant role in my life. Like an old ally, it has supported my sense of wonder, helped heal my love wounds, guided me through endless car rides, and relaxed me through stressful work situations. It adds mood in the background and infuses ‘live’ energy into the foreground. Music enthralls me, connects me, and harmonizes me. All necessary elements for inspiring creativity:

As an homage to the power and impact of music, I’m starting a “nostalgia challenge” by sharing 9 personal music memories, in no particular order:

1. Where Will I Be (Daniel Lanois)

I heard this song on the radio in 2008, as I was driving home late after a very long night of work. When it came on the radio, I dialed in immediately. There was something sad but whimsical about the lyrics and melody. Before I knew it, it became the perfect score for the Recession street visuals I was driving by. Luckily, the station mentioned the song was by Daniel Lanois. I looked him up that night and discovered he was a Canadian artist who is better known as an accomplished record producer. Lanois worked with artists like Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and Willie Nelson. What drew me in to his music was his distinctive guitar style. It was reminiscent of U2’s Joshua Tree album. When I checked… sure enough, he produced that one too. This is still my favorite song of his:

2. The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down (The Band)

Although I grew up listening to The Band, it took me many years to appreciate how uniquely special their music is. I wasn’t into ‘old sounding’ music when I was really young, and it was only later, when I saw them playing live in The Last Waltz that it clicked — all evidence of who they were and why they are so great, really came together. This is a truly remarkable music doc, directed by Martin Scorsese, captures a series of masterful performances, as artists like Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, and Van Morrison pay homage to the The Band during their last live performance. The song that affected me the most was “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”. This live version is the song in full vibrant glory (most notably led by drummer, Levon Helm’s passionate performance). The lyrics embody the spirit and resilience of a true American story. It’s a knockout and I can never watch this enough.

3. Part-Time Lover (Stevie Wonder)

I used to be absolutely obsessed with this song when I was a kid. I would come home from school before anyone else arrived, I would put on my Dad’s vinyl “In Square Circle” album… like clockwork. I would just constantly play it back, carefully resetting the phonograph needle over and over again… and just let the infectious rhythm take over. This for me was, and still is, an acoustic massage.

4. God (John Lennon)

The Beatles were a big part of my childhood, but listening to Paul McCartney and John Lennon as solo artists was a completely different kind of experience that I only uncovered in college. One of my favorite discoveries was the album “Plastic One Band”. The song, “God” expresses Lennon’s disillusionments (and self acceptance), and is filled with tons of references and subtext. After I heard it, I started to come into my own more about life, belief, and transformation.

5. Barricades of Heaven (Jackson Browne)

I always wondered what it was like to live during the heyday of the peace and love revolution. As much as I’ve tried to glean from that time through films and music, this track seems to encapsulate the feeling of being young, hitting the road, and going where it takes you. As Browne sings, “I was just trying to hear my song.” This song transports me any time I put it on, and it’s my go-to choice on every road trip.

6. Wasting My Young Years (London Grammar)

When I first discovered London Grammar’s debut album, I listened to it constantly. Something struck a chord. It seemed to be conveying a uniquely subdued message to today’s generation. Hannah Reid’s haunting vocal style evolves through the album like soft, melancholy wisdom. This song will live on and become a classic.

7. Inner City Blues (Marvin Gaye)

One of my favorite openings to a film was the textural sequence in A Most Violent Year. The story is set in 1981, known as the most turbulent year in New York City’s history. The sequence is scored to “Inner City Blues”, which captures the climate of that atmospheric unrest perfectly. I always enjoyed Marvin Gaye’s music, but I was surprised I had never heard this one. The lyrics are ripe with social commentary and are still poignant today.

8. The Street Only Knew Your Name (Van Morrison)

Anyone who knows me should know that Van The Man is my all time favorite artist. His voice has a magic quality that reaches deeper than any I’ve heard, and his levels of nostalgia are off the charts. As he sings in this song, “You can’t be complete without a street.” He makes references to the humble beginnings of his musical experience and sprinkles in a few of his influences. While doing so, he captures “coming of age”. My favorite memory of this song was listening to it as I walked through my old neighborhood. Nothing like it.

9. Golden (Feverkin/Koresma/Cuff Malloy)

Two of my favorite artist discoveries in the last few years are Feverkin and Koresma. Both have an enormous amount of talent, and they are just getting started. This was the song that introduced me to them. Like fine wine, it pairs beautifully with a rainy night, or a New York subway car. It’s calm, intimate, and smooth. I like to use it to wind down my thoughts after a long day.

Boom! That’s 9. If you have Spotify, here they are in playlist form:

Share a story with 9 music memories, and tag 9 more Medium members to join in. Share the link to your story as a comment in this post or add a link back to this original post in your story. This is not a time sensitive challenge. Look at it as an homage to your mental music bank… a love letter to your song nostalgia.

Viva la Revolution 9!!

This idea was inspired by Iva Ursano’s 40 Things I Love, and Lindsay Linegar’s Inspired By Music prompt.