That One Song That Defines That One Moment

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It was around late September/early October 2009 when I first saw The Airborne Toxic Event. I didn’t even want to go because it was a Wednesday or something, but my friend said she would pay for half my ticket. It was at a venue I’d never been to before, kind of in-the-middle-of-nowhere Montreal. There weren’t that many people, but it was a great show. In a way it was a show that would come to define Fall/Winter of 2009 for me.

See, I’d never heard of The Airborne Toxic Event and since then I haven’t heard anything new from them, haven’t been interested in even looking. The Airborne Toxic Event for me is forever associated with October 2009. In particular one song from that show will always sort of grab my heart in a way that nothing else can, because it was a weird, heart-grabbing time in my life.

We were standing right in the center, staring at the lead singer. And they played this song called “Sometime Around Midnight”. And the song, and the lyrics, and the timing, the heart-grabbing girl in my life who wasn’t really there… It was one of those moments where it felt like it was just me and the band, like he was singing only to me.

and she leaves
with someone you don’t know
but she makes sure you saw her,
she looks right at you and bolts

It was the lyrics that got me. They were everything I was feeling at that time: lost, confused, in love, drunk…

I was drunk a lot that fall. I was wandering the same street weekend after weekend hoping to run into this girl because I was just so sad and crazy. And it all culminated in this one night, my friend’s birthday, where I could practically hear “Sometime Around Midnight” playing in my head, and I was drunk and infatuated and the world was falling around me and all I could think was “you just have to see her, you know that she’ll break you in two.”

photo by mario leko

Things were different for me after that night, but every time I hear that song it’s all I can think of. I feel nostalgic about it now in a weird way. I don’t want to go back but sometimes I long for a time when I wore my heart on my sleeve.

Everybody has a song like that, I’m sure of it. A song with a memory so strongly attached to it that it can change your entire mood when you hear it, a song that so clearly represents X Time In Your Life, or even X Day In Your Life, X Moment. I don’t expect this song to have the same meaning for anyone else as it does for me, and that’s the beauty of it. I want to hear your song and your story, so share it with us!

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Emily Choo started as an intern with Autostraddle when she was 18 years old. She's now 10 years older and lives in Toronto with her partner and cat. The defining moment of her career was when Riese said this about her: " I think Emily Choo is a very bright, 'poetically inclined' girl who pays attention to everything and knows almost everything (the point of stuff, how to read, how beautiful things feel, how scary things feel, etc.) but doesn't believe/accept/realize yet that she knows almost everything." She still doesn't believe she knows anything, so, thank you, Riese, for that.

Emily has written 100 articles for us.


  1. I wish I had a song like this.

    Wait, I DO have a strong memory attached to 3 by Britney Spears. I remember being shocked that she could count that high.

  2. My song was also in the Fall of 2009. It’s a song by Lykke Li titled “Possibility,” {off the New Moon soundtrack} and my heart clings to it to this day. It helps me relive a time when the air was crisp, anything was possible and I was head over heels for a woman I knew was supposed to turn my entire world upside down. I was 32 years old, a unhappily married mother of two fabulous kids and I knew change was around the corner. Lucky for me the relationship is still going strong with the lovely woman I first fell for and the song lives on in my heart…

  3. Green Day’s “39/Smooth” and “Kerplunk” albums will forever remind me of summer 1999. I got a car that year and ended up having to drive my sister everywhere, even though she’s six months older than me and had her own damn car. For some reason, we made a Green Day tape with songs from those albums and listened to it every. single. time.

  4. “kyle and amanda’s theme” its not a song in the lyrical sense but everytime i hear it/play it on piano, it still deeply affects me. i learned it to play for my first real, secret love, but i never got the chance. i cant wait to have a “that one song” in the positive sense.

  5. “Eyes” by Rogue Wave. That song is two Marchs ago, sending her off on a trip with laboriously assembled mix CDs and realizing that people don’t just DO THAT for their “friend” who’s going away for a few days. And over the next few months…would I kiss her once, on her balcony at dusk? Would I kiss her once under the stars while we camped, far away from our tent, where the only part of her I could see was her eyes? I thought about this endlessly. It had to be once, only once, because I couldn’t be brave enough to have her always, brave enough to set that fire and burn everything to the ground. And because I hadn’t been brave when it could have counted, when it could have made loving her so much easier, once would be my sentence, my desperate last meal.

    But once lasted for 6 hours, until the sun came up and made us laugh this shocked little laugh, all to that mix I’d made in March, playing over and over and over again. I realized that the fire was already burning white hot and fast, incinerating the fear and endless silent justifications. And I knew I had never wanted anything more than I wanted a next time, an infinity of next times. I desperately wanted to be brave enough to have more than once.

    So, yeah. “Eyes”:

  6. I’m learning to be a Music Therapist and this is kind of what we do. We take our clients’ music preference and use that to reach whatever therapeutic goals we have for them (i.e. reducing anxiety, pain management, emotional expression, etc). There’s a lot of things you can do with music.

    Also, music is just awesome. I love making it and I love listening to it. And if I can change a life with it? So much the better. :)

    P.S. The Weepies concert I went to made my life. I haven’t felt quite so at peace with the world before or since. Hopefully there will be another time like that.

    • Wait… There’s a career in being a Music Therapist?! I’ve been thinking about going back to school for psychology (seeing as my art background maintains at sub-par fiscal levels for related jobs). My G.I. Bill expires in 2015 & I’d like to get the chance to use it for something important in my education. Music is basically the sustenance that keeps my soul satiated & healthy, I also have a giant fascination with psychology & how people’s brains work (after a toxic relationship, an ex-best friend turned sociopath, and being the go-to “therapist/ translator” for a younger straight girl who likes girls). Any info regarding the proper avenues to embark on leading towards Music Therapy would be great; please & thank you!

  7. Also, Emily, this Open Thread is wonderful and lovely and all kinds of good-smelling adjectives. Thank you!

  8. I fought with depression during my early to mid-teens and the album “Morning View” by Incubus is one of the few reasons why I didn’t completely lose it. This CD will always be a lifesaver to me.

  9. I’m jealous you got a beautiful song with a memory attached to it…I’m stuck with this David Guetta piece of shit that was playing in the background.
    if something’s fucking with my head it should be at least pretty.

  10. I know exactly what you mean. I have so many songs like that.

    “Hometown Glory” by Adele and “To Build A Home” by The Cinematic Orchestra – These two songs remind me of Brown University last November. I fell in love.

    “Always Like This” by Bombay Bicycle Club – I listened to this song for weeks after my dad was forced to leave the country and I found myself alone in my hometown. I got off the bus every day and walked to my house and it wasn’t mine anymore.

    The whole album “The Con” by Tegan & Sara – freshman year of high school

  11. round here by counting crows for winter 09 because i was searching for faith and escape from real life and i just wanted to be special and i met a girl and it was her favourite song and i felt this detail was crucial.

    also the futile by say anything for 2007 because i was 13 and EVERYTHING felt just that intense and so i understood this song as the only honest thing around me.

    • This song is so amazing. A friend of mine committed suicide in December of 2005, and a few months later I saw the Counting Crows for the first time. When Adam Duritz sang “Round Here” (which I have heard is about a friend who killed herself) I couldn’t believe how powerful it was. Tears were streaming down his face the entire time, and mine too, because in that very moment I knew exactly how he felt. And every time I saw them perform that song afterwards it brought me to tears.

  12. Heretics by Andrew Bird will always remind of fall 2008. Before I knew I was a big gay, I fell in “friend love” with a girl two years older than me in high school. She posted this song on facebook and it changed my life.

    also Casimir Pulaski Day by Sufjan Stevens will always remind of winter 2008 when i flew on plane to my grandma’s house and took pictures outside the airplane window and wished I was older and better looking.

    • ‘…took pictures outside the airplane window and I wished I was older and better looking’ love the randomness of it.

  13. “Boy With A Coin” and “Each Coming Night” by Iron&Wine. Iron&Wine generally makes me have ALL OF THE FEELINGS, but these two are especially connected to my relationship with the girl I’m with now. When we were freshmen she used to come watch me and a couple of friends jam at our dorm, and BWAC was her favorite to hear us play. It was obvious to everyone except me that we were into each other, but I just didn’t get it back then–only that I loved it when she showed up, and would always start the Iron&Wine when I saw her because I knew she enjoyed it.

    Three years and lots of drama and confusion later, we’re finally together. For a long time I couldn’t listen to those two songs because exactly like Emily describes, they’re just soooo connected to a feeling, person, and experience, and when I was sad about everything I needed to escape. I’m enjoying having those songs (and her) in my life now–every once and awhile when we’re just hanging out I’ll pick up the guitar and play for her. Especially with Each Coming Night, it’s just a nice chance for us to sit back and enjoy each other and the music, which really does say things I couldn’t ever articulate the same way. Whenever I hear these songs they will always be her hand resting on my foot, the two of us sitting against the wall on my bed, listening and just being.

  14. Summer of 2009, M.I.A.’s “Paper Planes” and Biz Markie’s “Just a Friend.” I was living in a house with 4 other people and we threw massive parties almost every weekend and almost always ended up playing those songs at every fucking party. No idea how I didn’t get sick of them. Whenever I hear them now I have party flashbacks and miss those people and that time so much it’s stupid.

    I actually do this a lot, almost all of my favorite songs are favorites because they reminded me of certain people or times.

  15. When I saw this post, I clicked on it and I was thinking of the exact same song. Not. Even. Joking.

    I heard it a couple (three?) winters ago while in the car with my guy best friend on the way back to college after Christmas. There was a girl who I loved, she had a boyfriend, yadayadayada, and the song came on and it hit me like a ton of fucking bricks.

    So of course, like the masochist I am, I got the album and spent probably the majority of my January class in Italy listening to this exact song and mooning over the girl I loved who didn’t love me, and vowing that I would get the fuck over it and never talk to her again.

    (that was a lie, we dated about a year and a half later, and now I will never talk to her again, even though sometimes I want nothing more). So this particular song also reminds me of the one who got away. And I still can’t listen to it very often or if I’m in a melancholy mood, because it will set me off.

    Also every time I listen to Hello Saferide, The Raveonettes, Camera Obscura, or other lovely/insufferably hipster bands I remember her a little but in a less painful way.


      • As soon as I read “Airborne Toxic Event” in the first line of the article, I knew what song this was going to be about. That song is THE soundtrack to excruciating unrequited love. I’ll spare you the details – I can’t even listen to it.

  16. Mine’s a breakup song! I know, so original. Pale Blue Eyes by the Velvet Underground.

    I was with this person early last year, and I remember being kind of awed that they even paid attention to me. Like the whole time I was pretty aware that the whole thing was kind of fragile. There’s this particular verse where Lou talks about thinking of someone as his mountaintop, and I still can’t listen to it without being reminded of that awful, humiliating, demoralizing feeling when you’re soo in it for someone who wants nothing to do with you… and you just can’t make yourself act dignified when they leave you.

  17. Yellow, by coldplay. Circa the end of 2008-early 2009 when I figured out I liked teh ladies/fell in love with a girl who would sing this ever so quietly under her breath.

  18. I have a soundtrack of those songs. Included are, “This Bed” by Horse Feathers, “Kozmic Blues” by Janis Joplin, “Marrow” by Ani DiFranco, and “Kecharitomene” by Loreena McKennitt, and other music you might play to look at Andrew Wyeth paintings.

    • ‘And other music you might play to look at Andrew Wyeth paintings.’

      Wow, what a beautiful thought.
      Love Santiago by Loreena McKennitt too – anything with a hurdy gurdy playing in it takes me instantly back to home/childhood/bliss.

  19. All of Regina Spektor’s “Soviet Kitsch” reminds me of junior/senior year of high school, when my parents were divorcing and I was pretty icky depressed. I swear, the song “Somedays” kept me from just losing it. Surprisingly, “Ode to Divorce,” from the same album, also got a lot of play.

    Also, all of Kanye’s “MBDTF,” especially “Monster,” reminds me of last winter, when I met all my best friends and we started hanging out all the time and trying to rap Nicki Minaj’s verse (terribly).

    Finally, “California” by Joni Mitchell once specifically reminded me of my first semester at college, when I would listen to it and walk down the street with sunglasses on no matter how sunny it was outside because the line, “When you’re walkin’ and the streets are full of strangers” would make me BAWL MY EYES OUT. Now it’s kind of a hopeful, happy song for me that reminds me of all sorts of different thing. It’s the soundtrack of my life.

  20. Weirdly enough I have a playlist full of specific songs from specific memories. A sampling:

    1) Tears in Heaven–Eric Clapton from when my brother passed
    2) All of Hot Fuss by The Killers = my entire senior yr of HS
    3) Nineteen–Tegan & Sara from when I was 19 & in love for the first time (super gay, I know)
    4)Walk of Life–Dire Straights from summer camp

    I could go on for days.

    Also, Sometime Around Midnight? Good song :)

  21. a comprehensive list of Songs That Define My Life would probably take me hours to write out, so i’ll just share the first one that popped into my head:

    in january of 2002 when i was 12, my parents and i moved to slovakia. a few days after we got there we were visiting the two english-taught schools in bratislava, and in the taxi on the way to the school that i ended up attending bittersweet symphony by the verve came on. ever since then every single time i hear that song it feels like i’m back in that taxi, feeling completely overwhelmed and utterly lost, surrounded by gray buildings, gray snow, and a gray sky.

  22. When I’m With You by Best Coast. The person I was dating sent the video of it to me after we had spent the weekend together. The video is a girl and ronald mcdonald hanging out in what is obviously LA, and it was like a weird dream sequence of my real-life relationship.
    That whole album reminds me of the same person- the lyrics are perfect:
    “Want to hate you but then I kiss you
    Want to kill you but then I miss you
    Drive me crazy but I love you
    Make me lazy but I love you”

    • Is it shallow if I reply just to say that I love your hair? If that’s your natural color, I’m going to eat this whole pint of Ben and Jerry’s.

      Oh, what the hell, I will anyway.

  23. The Mountain Goats – This Year: reminds me of a year I spent depressed out of my fucking mind. This got me through

    Bon Iver – Skinny Love: There was a time a while back when I was in a pretty messed up situation where I was cheating on my partner and I didn’t even know why and I used to listen to this song and imagine it from their point of view and feel like shit about myself. OH WHY. Still makes me pretty sad.

    The Mountain Goats – No Children: best moment of my life ever so far was seeing them play this live :D

    And so many others that remind me of people and times…

  24. Robyn – Dancing On My Own. Last spring. She put it on a mix CD for me, and then some other shit happened and that damn cheesy song helped me cry when I became absolutely dead certain that she was going to break my heart.

    But then she didn’t. :)

  25. If november 2010 had a soundtrack, it’d be the complete last album by the all american rejects and a liiiiiitle bit of taylor swift. The most significant song would be Damn Girl, by the all american rejects.. In the lyrics, one girl must dry her eyes because she broke a heart, in my story, both girls cry because one girl broke a heart. I only listen to this song when i’m in bed, preferably after coming home from a party and still with the remaining effects of alcohol. I don’t know why, but the girl i’m talkng about left a huge mark in me, and i still sigh when i think about whatever happened, it was as if a train hit me.

    I’m sure as hell gonna cry and dammit i’m not even drunk! Anyhow, that’s the music that reminds me of the most beautiful girl in the world, how i felt about her, and college.

  26. My future wife and I have a whole playlist devoted to our relationship, but if I were to pick three that really defined us, those songs would be the following:

    1) Meet Me By the Water – Rachael Yamagata

    I wrote the lyrics to this song on a piece of paper and sent it (via snail mail) to the girl I was following in love with. Did I mention I was in the woods and couldn’t contact her any other way?

    2) Wagon Wheel – Old Crow Medicine Show

    The first time she visited me (we were long distance), I took her out to a rustic hot springs resort with a bunch of my lesbian friends. The group of us drank whiskey, watched our breath crystalize in the cold air, stayed warm in the water and listened to a live rendition of this song. She sang along and grabbed me around the waist and told me to rock her. I did. Still do.

    3) (I Can’t Help) Falling in Love With You – Ingrid Michaelson

    This is the song that defines our whole relationship. Not only is it applicable to how unbelievably crazy our story is, it is a classic love song. So classic that my mom fell in love with it when she was a teenager (then by Elvis).

    This song will be the song we dance to as we are introduced as wives for the first time…after our wedding ceremony this summer.

  27. This story has nothing to do with ex-lovers, but with home, mothers, and sisters.

    Angel (Sarah Mclachlan)–It’s the summer of 2000, and am barely 14 years old. I’ve been in living in the United States for nearly three years, and my world is still undone. Both of my sisters leave for home, Haiti. Perhaps, probably, definitely, we only had enough money for two tickets. I stay in Philadelphia, with my overworked mother,who I rarely see, and only in the evenings when she’d wake me up to say goodnight. I spend EVERY SINGLE DAY alone. It’s been three years and I still feel so brand spanking new to everything and everyone. I haven’t any friends. I have never been so lonely.

    I heard the song once, on T.V., or the radio, and it resonates. I listen to it over and over and over until I’ve given my pain a color, a name, a country, and even a funeral. I know, somehow, that I am meant to understand that I can never go back in the way that they can, my sisters. I am never to belong to Haiti in much the same way. I know that I am be trapped (much later, I learn to liberate myself) for a long time, in this America, looking back, wistfully, at this place that only a moment ago, was wholly mine.

  28. harveydanger – problems and bigger ones is 2007 because i moved from virginia to kentucky (cross to the border states to the wrong side / look away virginia) and i came out to my parents again and we went to a therapist (the man was very helpful but i knew he wouldn’t stay), got an abortion (there used to be a baby but the baby went away) and it was awful and i had a lot of hate but also a lot of love and i learned to play this song on guitar.

  29. Jason Mraz – ‘I’m Yours’ was the song I got high and sang with my best friend the night before she turned into my worst enemy. Now hearing that song just makes me hate myself, and her, and that whole autumn, and the entire state of Queensland.

  30. The entire Nine Days album. remember them? November 2005. I was head over heels for my best friend at the time. My intelligent, beautiful, athletic, smooth, sexy, dreamer of a straight best friend. And she would come up to my dorm room and sit and chat with me and one night we sat in my desk chair – her in my lap running her fingers through my hair and sending chills down my spine for hours. literally until we were both delirious with lack of sleep and not speaking words – just communicating with our eyes and her fingers in my hair. for hours and hours. and nine days in the background on repeat. over and over and over again. for no real reason. just because i didn’t want to move to change the music because it would mean breaking the trance. that album will forever bring back the chills of that night. memories. whooooa take me back.

    also. norah jones – long way home. same girl. she would secretly quote the song in straight BFF letters to me. and we were more in love than the movies.

    i wonder what songs she and her husband listen to together now…

    • This just makes me want to hug you. “All reminds me of your name…we sought fortune through the rain…”

  31. This just happened! My best friend is spending her twenty-fifth birthday in a country she hasn’t been in since she was six. It’s not for wonderful reasons, but for ugly, stupid deportation (US immigration = so backwards). Apparently Mumbai is really the smelliest city in the world.

    Since I didn’t have a permanent address for her, I created a lip-dub video of me “singing” Marie Digby’s “Umbrella (Rihanna cover)” with hand-drawn, doodled inside jokes and captions.

    She said it was the best gift she has ever gotten. That song will always, to me, represent our friendship and her amazing bravery and beauty in the face of such injustice.

  32. The first time I made out with a girl AND IT ALL MADE SENSE,”In the Waiting Line” and “Destiny”- Zero 7. I swear I think I made out with her for hours!!!

    My first legit existential crisis, “Where is my Mind?”-The Pixies

    When I came out, “Freedom 90”-George Micheal (this might be one of my favorite song).

  33. Same exact Airborne Toxic Event song but in December 2010. I legitimately started crying in the car on the way to a college visit.

  34. Coldplay’s album “Viva La Vida” reminds me of Harry Potter, because I lost my iPod on vacation and got that CD and stayed up until four in the morning for about a week straight re-reading all the Harry Potter books, and it was surprisingly well-suited to the series.

    Also, “Takin’ It Off” by Akon will forever remind me of the string of parties my friends and I successfully organized during the Spring Break of our Junior year of high school. We always referred to it as “Creeper Song #18,” though, because 1. it was on a mix CD and 2. it was about voyeurism.

  35. First Day Of My Life by Bright Eyes. It was the night of the 1st of January 2006. I was watching an interview with Jonathan Safron Four on television with a friend of mine. We were killing time until we could take the train real early in the morning, to go to London for a week of second hand book hunting. Jonathan Safron Four said that his favourite director was John Cameron Mitchell, who directed the video for First Day Of My Life. They then showed the video. I have never been so grasped by a song the first time I heard it. I cried. Then me and my hungover friend travelled to London, with him sleeping in my lap because he was feeling so sick.

    First Day Of My Life to me is a song about growing up. About having this feeling for the first time of being the person I want to be, doing things I want to do, instead of going along with things that are expected of me. I’m not there yet, but I recall feeling it for the first time right there and then. Also, the video for the song is gorgeous and it has Bitch and Danielle Sea in it. Ha.

    I can’t play it without feeling good-emotional. And I always hope I will meet someone someday who makes me feel like the emotion conveyed in the song.

  36. The Killers ‘Mr Brightside’

    It was…let me think..end of 2004/start of 2005. The song was constantly being played EVERYWHERE, and everytime I heard it made me think of this girl I was desperately in love with. It reminds me a lot of being younger (sigh) but also how crappy it can feel to be in (what I then thought was) unrequited love.

    Fast forward seven years, and this is the song for me and ‘this girl’ Hedwig and the Angry Inch “Origin of Love”.
    We regularly jump around our home singing/yelling these lyrics :)

    • How awesome!! When my girl and I first got together I played this video for her and told her it’s exactly how I felt when we met, like I was staring right into the other half of myself. What a magnificent song :)

  37. JayMay, Grey or Blue

    I first heard it the same week that I finally admitted to myself that I was gay and in love with my friend.

    The song’s about being in love with a boy, but there’s a lyric that goes:

    “Don’t second guess your feelings, you were right from the start.”

    I basically broke down in tears when I heard it because I felt like it was directed at me.

    Now that I’m out, whenever I hear this song I feel all warm and fuzzy and proud at how much I’ve grown since then.

  38. “That Was the Worst Christmas Ever!” by Sufjan Stevens.

    In a really deep depression my sophomore year of high school, this was the soundtrack to my worst Christmas Eve ever.

    • The awesome thing about Sufjan Stevens’ approximately five million Christmas songs is there’s at least one for every mood. “Sister Winter” was one of the defining songs of my worst Christmas day, ever. Oh, 2008.

  39. Oh god, so many songs.

    I still lose quite a lot of my shit to Melissa Ferrick singing ‘Glycerine.’ Also, Ani di Franco, ‘As Is.’

    And there was this one time when for like three months I mainly walked long distances and listened to Girl in a Coma singing ‘Their Cell.’

  40. “Fast Cars” by Tracy Chapman. I used to go to this LGBTQ youth center about 45 minutes from home, and my dad always had to pick me up when it was done. For some reason, this song always came on the radio as we got closer to home.

    It just reminds me of how much we’ve both matured regarding my sexuality – how he started off being so unsupportive and not willing to listen, and slowly wrapped his mind around it. I like to think that all of those long drives helped.

  41. my definite song is “behind that locked door” by george harrison. summer 1998.
    i recommend it to anyone who has cried sleepless nights when they were 13 trying to figure out themselves, feeling completely and utterly alone, wondering why people treat you like a freak just because you are different.
    i used to listen to it and thinking my grown up self was singing it to me. its been another 13 years since then, i am now my grown up version (so to speak) and everytime i hear this song i have to think of the little messed up 13y.o. boygirl i used to be, smile and give her a timetravelling hug.
    give it a try if you feel like that, it was my it gets better song.

  42. Mine is fairly embarrassing. It’s the entire first album by Savage Garden. What? It was 1998. Savage Garden was cool in 1998. Anyway, I used to listen to the entire album (on a cassette tape!) over and over in the summer of 98 in my room with the blinds closed to keep it cool inside. And I would sit at my ancient computer and play games or write stories. It was the month before my brother died in a car accident, so I hear the beginning of that album, and I’m transported back to when my life was as normal as it was ever going to get.

    And as an added bonus, even after 13 years, I’m fairly certain that I know all the words to I Want You.

  43. I make a lot of mixtapes and playlists for myself so I have a lot of songs like this but in November 2009 I made a mix tape for my on/off girlfriend (at the time) called ‘everything i love gets lost in drawers’. The title came from The National track ‘Slow Show’ which always give me chills… it was around that time I fell in love with her. We’re still together. We live together now. Um. I think I first heard this song on Gossip Girl? But it’s not associated with that now.

    • I’m the same way. I tend to associate pretty much every life event/experience with a song or playlist.

      That’s a really beautiful story for a beautiful song. My own memory for “Slow Show” comes from last summer. The person I was dating at the time started teaching me to play drums. One of the songs we worked on was “Slow Show,” after I’d introduced him to The National. I’d listen to the song both with him and on my own over and over, trying to get it down. Even when I listen to it now, my muscle memory still feels like it’s going to kick in.

  44. My grandmother died unexpectedly a few days after Christmas in 1996. As I was driving home to attend her funeral, “A Long December” by Counting Crows came on the radio. I will always equate that song with that sad time in my life, because the lyrics matched the emotions that I was feeling.

  45. The whole “American Idiot” CD by Green Day. It was the summer of freshman year and I read a book that changed my life and inspired me to take my first dance class. Six years later I’m still dancing and just listening to any song off that album makes me feel like I’m fourteen years old again, drowning in that book. Like a soundtrack for a movie that doesn’t exist.

  46. I can think of two:

    Daft Punk – One More Time — 2001 It was my first summer off from college and my parents wisely decided to ship me off to visit my brother in Taipei for a month. He introduced me to Daft Punk that summer and this song was everywhere we went… which was mostly internet cafes to play Counterstrike and bars (fried tofu as bar food ftw!).

    Modest Mouse – Float On (well the whole album really) -fall 2004 — I had just graduated and moved to Tallahassee to live with my best friend. Pretty much upon arrival I was given a burned copy of this album that ended up in my car. Every time I hear this song I am cast back to that time and I can feel the sunny, cool crisp fall air on my arms as I drove around with the windows down filled with the anxiety tinged hope of my unknown future sprawling out in front of me. Seriously, I get goosebumps every time.

  47. I know exactly what you mean.
    For me it’s “Wicked Game” and I can’t listen to it without thinking of the year 2008.
    I liked this girl and she was learning how to play the guitar and this was the only song she knew how to play. I used to listen to it over and over again.
    It’s the song that really changes my mood from whatever it is to very nostalgic and dreamy, like I’m in an entirely different plane of existence.

  48. Because I’m prone to being ridiculously nostalgic/sentimental, there many songs which each remind me of a very specific time, but I’ll always remember the one time the lyrics of a song reached out and grabbed me completely unawares.. I was newly heartbroken at a friend’s concert and his choir sang Billy Joel’s ‘So it goes’ – I was completely dumbstruck at just how accurately the words of the song reflected what was going on inside me.

    “And I would choose to be with you, that’s if the choice were mine to take. But you can make decisions too, and you can have this heart to break”. goddammit.

  49. I was high up in a skyscraper when she came to me. She was concerned, I could see the worry in her eyes as she touched my cheek briefly. I assured her everything would be alright, I’m just going through a very strange period in my life. The beginning of the song “Where is my Mind?” by The Pixies began, just the haunting melody and the high pitch wails. Everything came together as the first explosion ricocheted between the buildings. She jumped as she tore her eyes from mine, looking out across the chaos that was now sweeping the city. Her hand found mine and we watched together as society as we knew it crumbled around us.

    Oh shit, wait, that was the ending to Fight Club. But you can’t deny that was an epic song for that epic moment. For some reason, that song (as a result of that movie and the Pixies/Nirvana mixtape my uncle made me) are forever etched in my mind along with the emotions I was feeling as I read The Perks of Being a Wallflower (circa 2001/2002). I don’t think “Where is my Mind?” made Charlie’s playlist, but it is probably the epitome of what he defined as “infinite” for me, something I was desperately seeking at that tumultuous time in my life.

  50. kinda surprised no one has mentioned this one yet but Adele Someone like you (preferably a live version)
    I heard this for the first time on Jools Holland nearly a year ago just when everything was falling apart with my first love and this captures it all too well.

    I doubt very much if i’ll ever be able to listen to it without getting goosebumps.

  51. I really got into New Order towards the end of last year and I really got into realizing I liked girls around the same time.
    “Temptation” was my most played song for the next few months/the remainder of my senior year of high school and every time I heard it everything seemed to click. I even made a mixtape to play in art class at the request of this girl I had a crush on…you bet your ass “Temptation” was on it.

  52. Mexico by Incubus i think everyone has been in a relationship like that.

    The Noose by A Perfect Circle

    Breathe me by Sia

    My Lonely road by ISISIP

    and last but not least Saturday Night by the Misfits

    I have had some crazy shit go down with all these songs not bad,life lessons learned rather

  53. Now by Jonathan Groff

    It’s a really sad song, but my girlfriend sang it to audition for a play last September, before we started dating. She came by my place one night to sing for me and ask my opinion, and it was as she sang that it hit me, that the girl curled in my chair was more that just a friend and my heart was doing weird flippy things and it was entirely her and always her. I listened to it on repeat for the entire time it took me to convince her to give me a chance (and the entire time it took my friends to stop teasing me about how it took a breakup song to finally realize that I had gone and fallen in love with my best friend), and more than a year later I can’t hear it without remembering exactly what that moment felt like.

  54. feels like home by chantal kreviazuk.

    this song will always remind me of the girl I loved for so long and decided to have a life with and then one day it was all over. She broke my heart into a million different pieces and never even said sorry. I can’t hear this song without literally feeling sick. I’m happily in love and in an amazing relationship, but this song still messes with me.

  55. While I do have a few very sentimentally significant songs to speak of…I would instead like to profess my monument that will forever be connected to Kelly Clarkson’s “Since you’ve been Gone.”

    An 18-year-old version of myself was out with some friends experiencing my first glimpse of the glittery world of gay nightclubs. Like many other nightclubs, tons of people were in a room getting drunk and essentially dancing in their own tiny universes….except that there were lots more sparkles and false lashes. (I should probably mention that this way a predominately male gay-club…that’s essential to the plot.) All of a sudden, Kelly Clarkson’s “Since you’ve been Gone” came on and the metaphorical record scratched, while almost ever guy in the club started singing in unison….the music kicked in…and game on! Next thing I know we are surrounded by one massive chorus of bouncing gay boys, jumping up and down like teenage girls at a Justin Beiber concert. It felt like they were all telling off invisible ex-boyfriends in an effort to dance the pain away. Fabulous! The moment the next song played, everyone returned to their own little world like nothing ever happened.

    Now that’s a moment!

  56. “Let Go” by Frou Frou

    I heard right before the start of my freshman year of college in 2004, during the trailer for “Garden State”. It took a lot for me to talk to people throughout high school, because I was just too shy, but this song encapsulated that year for me – just about to take my first baby steps toward adulthood.

  57. “Honey Let Me Sing You a Song” by Matt Hires = when my girlfriend first kissed me. We were roommates sophomore year of college and it reminds me of the time and place where I figured out that a) I’m a big gay, and b) that I was in love with her for a long time and never knew until then.

  58. love this post! secrets by one republic, and sweet disposition by the temper trap always haunts me b/c it reminds me of the first girl i liked that led me to realize i like women. and illusion by VNV Nation when my world crashed and burned b/c she tried to destroy my life b/c she couldn’t have me…

  59. Possession by Sarah McLachlan and Worn Me Down by Rachael Yamagata. (But you can’t stop thinking about her.) Everytime I hear those songs I remember my sophmore year in high school when I was all awkward and came out. I had a crush on a friend. She sang these songs one year at a BOB. Possession a song about a stalker with a crush. Yeah…

  60. The Man Who Can’t Be Moved by The Script… I used to hear that song every day while waiting for a girl to decide whether she wanted to be with me! :-)

  61. I love this thread! For me it’s Jolie Holland’s “Escondida” album. She was my college roommate and it was our first night together. I still have a hard time listening to that album and I never listen to “Darlin Ukelele” because it’s just to much. We stayed together for 2 wonderful years and 2 1/2 rough ones. I’ve been married to my wife for over a year now and the first girlfriend is long gone but my heart still skips a beat to that damn ukelele.

  62. ‘Teaches’ – Leonard Cohen

    Lazy Sunday mornings. Pancakes for breakfast. Sex on the dining table. Leonard on the turntable. Sex on the stairs. Leonard on the turntable. Two chapters of the book i’ll never finish. Sex on the couch. Dinner. Sleep.

  63. The Trapeze Swinger- Iron & Wine. It’s nine minutes long but you will listen to the entire recording. And then you will hit repeat.

  64. I always get tears in my eyes when i hear Somwhere Over The Rainbow. When I was a kid I thought it was a song about people, mostly children, dying and moving on to a better place where they weren’t gonna suffer anymore and that made me really sad obviously! So that song kind of reminds me of that time as a kid when I started thinking about death and what was going to happen to me and my loved ones when we came to that point in life. Then of course I grew up and realized that it’s not at all about death but I can’t shake off the sadness I feel every time I hear it.

    But it’s a beautiful song!

  65. I always think of my late grandmother when I hear Hootie and the Blowfish’s “not even the trees”. She passed away when I was 23 and the music on this album reminded me spending time with her during my teens.

    “Alone as I sit and watch the trees
    Won’t you tell me if I scream will they bend down and listen to me
    … And it makes me wonder When I see you in my dreams
    Does it mean anything Are you trying to talk to me…
    And I wonder if you’re looking down at me, And smiling right now
    I wanna know if it’s true When he looks at me
    Won’t you tell me Does he realize he came down here
    And he took you too soon”
    -Hootie and the Blowfish

  66. My girlfreind was at the computer a few months ago and said to me, “listen to this song, it says it all about how I feel about you.” Frankly I had never heard it but she played, “You’re my Everything” by Santo Esmeralda. I hugged her neck from behind and wept, because I know she meant it. We ate supper and made sweet love not long after and when I hear that song almost inevitably I get teary eyed becauase she still means it.

  67. It was the day after I first invited my now-girlfriend over to my house for lunch, and I was feeling lovesick and why-the-fuck-can-I-not-just-tell-her-how-I-feel like, and I’d been playing Laurence Fox’s Life and Times over and over since the day before, but I hadn’t really learned all the words yet and didn’t have a grasp on the meaning.

    I was riding home from town and listening to it, and it just suddenly struck me so hard I started crying, cause it perfectly reflected how I was feeling. Maybe it’s not what anyone else took from the lyrics, but I saw it as people wanting to talk to each other but being too scared to:

    “People gather like storms, then turn their faces away from the fame
    Why have you all disappeared now I’ve got something to say?
    I will rise on the wings of the dawn,
    People gather like storms, then turn their faces away from the fame
    Maybe too long in the sun and now it’s time for the rain.
    What are you gonna do in your life?
    Who are you gonna love in your life?
    How are you gonna give in your life?
    How are you gonna live–
    This is your life, it’s your life and times.”

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