A Musical Memory Montage

When I wrote about friendship last month, I never imagined that it would leave me in such a contemplative mood. There's just something about revisiting the past, especially a formative time period in my life, that makes me feel all sentimental. And when I started re-watching Alias, the feeling only deepened.

Life Through a Lens
In that post, I mentioned inviting people into the mess versus only letting them see through a filter. Just this week, I received my first #AliMakesMail package (Ali's shop). The colors, the quotes, the design... I adore every single detail! Each monthly mail package has a theme, and May's seemed quite fitting: Life Unfiltered.

Each quote was about vulnerability and truth - a reminder that what you see on social media doesn't speak to the entire experience of being alive. Life's not always perfectly styled and beautifully lit. Social media wasn't an intrinsic part of my adolescence that way it is for kids now, but so much of my life has been documented there. There are things I love about it, but I don't want to watch my life happen through a lens. What happened to being fully present and burning an experience into my memory rather than saving it to my camera roll?

So many of my favorite moments aren't things you'll ever find on my phone or in photos: the anxiety and anticipation of riding in my first horse show, the joy of finding a note from a friend in my locker in high school, the nerve-wracking first night at college, the look on Nick's face when he told me how he felt about me, the sound of my friend's voice sharing the news that she got engaged... It's all there in my mind!

The Music & The Memories
And while I wouldn't necessarily describe myself as a music person, I realized recently that many of these memories are tied to what I was listening to at the time. Forget status updates or tweets... I can turn on certain songs and be immediately transported to that place or reminded of that person. I may have gone from CDs to MP3s, but the songs (and the emotions they evoke) are the same either way.

Here's the weird thing about the way I listen to music: I'll obsessively listen to a song or album for weeks on end, and then I rarely listen to it again once I've moved on. I recognize the insanity, but I can't stop myself. For example, I spent all of March 2014 listening to John Mark McMillan's Borderlands album... and have probably only listened to it once since then. So when I listen to my iTunes library on shuffle, it's like traveling back in time.

Even better? I recently found a box of mix CDs from high school and college. It was a walk down memory lane! So, I made a playlist of songs that will always be linked to certain people, places or periods in my life.

1. Passenger Seat by SheDaisy - The summer after my ninth grade, I went to a week-long camp in California for their father/daughter program. It was a long drive from the airport to the camp, and my dad rented a convertible because I'd always wanted to take a road trip in one. We listened to this album on repeat!

2. Listen to Your Heart by D.H.T. - The fall of my sophomore year, my school had a Sadie Hawkins dance. I asked my best guy friend at the time to go with me, and then we went to prom together my junior year. I can't remember which dance this song played at, but I do remember him dramatically singing it to me.

3. It's All Coming Back to Me Now by Celine Dion - I grew up listening to this song, but it will always be associated with the summer before my junior year of high school. My family went to San Francisco for vacation, and we stopped in Las Vegas on the way home for a surprise: seeing Celine Dion at Caesar's Palace!

4. Play with Fire by Hilary Duff - I loved Lizzie McGuire in middle school, and I became a big fan Hilary Duff and her music. She released this single at the beginning of my senior year of high school. I was driving at that point, and I used to make my siblings listen to this every single morning on the way to school. They still hate me for it.

5. Almost Lover by A Fine Frenzy - The summer after I graduated high school, I took a trip to the beach with three of my good friends. I'd recently discovered A Fine Frenzy, and we listened to this song over and over again on the drive to Florida. It's a wonder we weren't all weepy, emotional messes with this as our soundtrack.

6. When Everything Seems Wrong by Ari Hest - I dated a guy for like a month near the end of high school but broke up with him right after graduation. A month later, I got a package in the mail with a CD he said he'd made and forgotten to give me." It was all "you broke my heart" songs, so I called it the Bitter, Party of One mix.

7. Misery Business by Paramore - I fell in love with Paramore in high school, but this song will always remind me of my freshman year of college. I went to a school that was only an hour from my family, so I'd sometimes go back to do laundry or escape the dorms. And I'd blast this song on the country roads that took me home.

8. Black Betty by Ram Jam - I went to a small high school that didn't have a football team and was never a big fan of the sport. However, I went to an SEC school where it was a given that I'd go to the games. During my freshman year of college, this song would play in the stadium before games to get the crowd excited.

9. Heartbreaker by Matt Wertz - I listened to a lot of Matt Wertz (and Dave Barnes) in college, but this song always reminds me of a semi-formal I went to with a group of friends. We went without dates, had an amazing time dancing, left to go hang out at Waffle House and blasted this song in the car.

10. Love in This Club by Usher - The summer before my sophomore year of college, I went on a six-week mission trip to South Africa. It's actually the trip where I met Nick! They played a lot of American music on the radio there, and I feel like we heard song everywhere we went - in the car, the grocery store, the university campus...

11. What If It All Goes Right by Melissa Lawson - Once I was back from South Africa, it wasn't long before I had to go back to college. Recruitment starts the week before classes begin, and everyone in the sorority has to participate. I was working upstairs doing paperwork, and the advisor with us played this song every day.

12. Famous Flower of Manhattan by The Avett Brothers - The song that takes me back to sophomore year! I started hanging out with Nick that fall, and The Avett Brothers were his favorite band. When he invited me to go with him to their concert months in advance, I knew just how much he liked me. And the rest is history!

13. If I Didn't Know Any Better by The Civil Wars - I enjoyed Joy Williams' music before she became a part of The Civil Wars, but I fell in love with this duo after seeing them in concert at Eddie's Attic during the fall of my junior year. Their first album came out a few months later - on my 21st birthday - and I was obsessed.

14. Heavenly Day by Patty Griffin - My absolute favorite song on this list and an all-time favorite memories: my first dance with Nick as husband and wife! We listened to a lot of Patty Griffin while we were dating, and it was a given that this would play at our wedding. If I'm in a bad mood, I just turn this on for an instant pick-me-up.

15. Mama's Broken Heart by Miranda Lambert - After getting married, I moved and started working full-time. I'd never been a big fan of Miranda Lambert, but this album came out that fall and next thing I knew I bought all of her music. I still listen to her now, but I'll always associate her with those first few months after starting my job.

Are certain songs or albums tied to any of your memories?
Do you soundtrack moments in your mind?


  1. So interesting seeing the memories you've associated with these songs, Love in this club by Usher; So interesting to hear that you visited South Africa, it's where I live. Where about did you go?

  2. I feel very similarly about songs! I often find that when I'm listening to some of my old favorites, I'm transported back into the day/time/place that I associate with it. You've actually named a few that I have strong memories for - It's All Coming Back to Me Now (my childhood, backseat of the car as my parents drove us home at night) and Misery Business (college, freshman year, bonding with my roomies). Loved this and it's totally making me want to think about sharing my own playlist of songs with you <3

  3. This totally inspired me to make a memories playlist on Spotify! Too bad they don't have Taylor Swift on there though, because I remember listening to her debut CD on my first drive by myself in my car after I got my license. Such a strong memory!

  4. I'm basically the exact same as you! I'll listen obsessively to a certain album or song, and then after a few weeks, I'll slowly stop playing it and I'll start listening to different music. But that's why I love reading on my kindle; it has almost all of my songs, so when I put it on shuffle, it bounces around and I'm listening to music I haven't heard in a long time. Songs that bring back memories and just make me so happy I'll stop reading just to sing along to it.

    I loved the song, Passenger Seat, and love my girl Miranda! I haven't listened to many of these, but I also don't venture out of the country genre as often as I used to. I'm trying to change that. There are songs that transport me back, like Don't Stop Believin' when we played it in band and it was hugely popular in high school. American Girl, which is a song my ex-best friend and I used to sing as often as possible on the playground in our earlier years. There are just SO many that I grew up on and that, when I hear them again, they bring me back. And sometimes, it's really fun reliving those memories. :)

    Lovely post, Hannah!

  5. OMG this post. I definitely have songs tied to specific memories and moments, and I'm not always aware of it til I hear the song again and it triggers something! Unlike you, I obsessively listen to a song and continue to do so hahah :D But it's fun to rediscover a song I had forgotten I loved too.

    LISTEN TO YOUR HEART. YES. This also makes me think of my best guy friend from high school but while I was in college, and yes I had a ginormous crush on him and would wallow listening to this song and replaying all of our convos hahah. I had a really cool techno version too :D

    Celine- we talked about this but I will never forget hearing this song on the radio as a kid and taking forever to figure out what it was. And then I saw the music video on tv one day!! Have you heard of the movie Chances Are with Robert Downey Jr and Cybil Shepard? I haven't seen it in a really long time but I always thought It's All Coming Back To Me Now would have been the perfect theme song. I've always loved Celine! My mom had a tape we'd listen to on the way to school and she was my first concert in 9th grade. She's the best :)

    I love Love in this Club :D

    Okay a couple of my songs: She Ain't You by Chris Brown makes me think of driving to Santa Monica to visit Chris when we first started dating and being on the 10W freeway, almost there! At twilight. I can picture it so clearly.

    Superbass by Nicki Minaj also makes me think of Chris, but of driving with him to his mom's house in the Palm Desert are. I think I made him a cd mix with this song on it!

    And one of my strongest associations is BBMak. I LOVED BBMak and their whole cd reminds me of being in Laughlin, Nevada with my family on vacation for my 14th birthday. My mom drove me to a bookstore to get the brand new 4th Harry Potter book and I just wanted to sit by the pool and read but it was 115 degrees out! I can remember the lipglosses and balms I had in my little purse. And it all makes me think of BBMak.

    Everything You Want and You're A God by Vertical Horizon is another super clear memory; my sister rode horses when I was in 7th grade and my mom would drive us to the stables on the weekends; we'd listen to Vertical Horizon and NSync and I would read Redwall while my sister rode.

    Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen makes me think of being a kid and dancing and signing along in my basement playroom. I'd even fake play a blow up saxophone haha!

    LAST ONE: Stolen by Dashboard Confessional. I first heard it on an episode of Scrubs and fell in love; I can remember the entire sequence and I used it in our wedding slideshow.

    Okay that comment was ridiculous hahahah. Sorry!!! I don't consider myself a music person but I sure do have a lot of music memories.

  6. As previously stated, this is a very broad and complex topic but I'd like to share some basics that I've learnt from my travels in the world of music.sound engineering


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