Every time I hear “Chasing Cars” by Snow Patrol I’m eight years old again, dancing around the kitchen on a Sunday morning while my mom cooks pancakes.
I’m not actually there. But the song just places me right back in that moment.
Everyone recalls memories by different things — sights, smells, sounds, even circumstances like deja vu.
I grew up listening and accidentally memorizing everything from Paul Simon to Kenny Chesney, all of which became a soundtrack to some of the more memorable moments of my childhood.
Uncle Kracker sang “Follow Me” as my friends and I went to lunch last week and we all found ourselves joining in because we knew the lyrics by heart. This song is definitely not on Pandora’s Today’s Top Hits, as it was released in the year we were born (2000). So how did we learn every word when we had no clue what, “swimming through our veins like fish in the sea” meant, especially as terrible twos?
Anyway, listening to that song took me back to driving out to Settler’s, stopping at Ward Cove Deli for bean and cheese burritos– the smell lingering in the hot car the whole drive out. Who knows if I would have remembered that day at the beach with my cousins had that song not attached itself?
I knew I would remember special moments in my life like my 16th birthday party or getting my first dog, but now, the only reason something sticks is because of a song. I have no other reason to file such insignificant moments in my life other than having music that goes with them.
Psychologists say your memories aren’t your memories unless they are from your point of view, otherwise you’re just remembering something someone else told you.
I think that’s why I enjoy music so much. It lets me be in the memory rather than recalling it; like one does when looking at pictures.
Adults always say that since I’m only 17, I don’t even have a fraction of the memories I will have in my life. And that’s true. But right now, I feel like I have a lifetime of them — and the playlists to prove it.
Ask me what I was doing three months ago, I would have no idea. Play my summer music, and I could tell you exactly what I was doing, who I was with, and my mood with each song that comes on.
If I want to throw it back to middle school, I’ll shuffle my 2013 playlist, blasting Ke$ha and Katy Perry on repeat. If I want to relive prom night, I’ll listen to Heartache on the Dancefloor by Jon Pardi. If I’m reminiscing the Watershed Festival, I’ll get in my car and listen to the entire Traveller album by Chris Stapleton.
If organized playlists aren’t enough, I also have a VSCO (basically an unpopular Instagram) that I post pictures on, captioning each one with a song. I have a song for every picture, a picture for every memory.
Pictures are great, diaries are great — but they don’t satisfy the feeling that music gives me. Now that my high school playlist is coming to an end, I can’t wait to see what my college soundtrack will be.