It’s upsetting to think that its been so long that I’ve forgotten the names of the streets. I remember what they look like, or what they used to look like, at least. At any rate, there’s a left hand turn stamped into my memory. It was an ordinary thing–I was just going somewhere, for some reason, in a car; just a left hand turn at a traffic light. But this particular turn coincided with the simultaneous welling of a song and a realization that a certain time in my life was coming to an end. For whatever reason, that was the intersection that occured–that time, place, feeling, and song–and so the memory of this ordinary thing persists.
There are a handful of these that exist for me–songs that carry a vivid association with a certain time and place. Beyond a cold, scientific recollection, they capture the feeling of being there. Like somehow all of the emotional data of the moment can live inside a song, in some compressed form.
A lot of these memories for me are in cars, strangely, at points between the places we more ordinarily ascribe significance. I guess there’s music on and alone time to wonder about the state of things. There was the spot on my commute from that time I was a counselor at a day camp in high school. That was a Guster song and I was thinking about a girl, I think. And another at a rest stop on my way back to Rochester at the beginning of my second year of college, excited to reunite with friends and continue to explore fake adulthood (Sufjan Stevens, that time).
The left hand turn was at the end of my last year in Rochester. People were making plans and finding jobs; entering and leaving the proximity of each others lives. I was grappling with the reality of all that at the time. The song was “My Rights Versus Yours” by The New Pornographers. The street pointed downtown.
There was an album released this year, 2012, by A.C. Newman, (one of the founding members of The New Pornographers) that reminds me, as a whole, of the feeling of that song. And somehow, this totally separate music takes me back to that same place–that same spot on the road. It was instant and powerful upon first listen and I enjoyed the melancholy of thinking back on that time. After a few plays, I found myself reaching out beyond that starting place. Somehow, this new framework stirred other memories; old feelings, places I sometimes wish I could go back to, states of being that had no songs attached to them to keep them alive. I found myself with a head full of these forgotten moments that, like the names of Rochester streets, had faded with time.
For all of this, A.C. Newman’s Shut Down The Streets is one of my favorite albums of 2012. In time, I imagine it will be a reminder of the time I spent on a subway in New York, writing this note, and reflecting on old times. For now, it’s fun to wander in places I thought I’d forgotten.Read More