That Song

This week’s AVQ&A over at A.V. Club was all about music rendered unlistenable by emotionally tragic times in our lives – times ranging from the death of loved ones to heartbreak.

If I had to think of a song that even approaches having such an effect on me it would be “That Song” by the now disbanded Big Wreck (I’ve posted this video before, but it’s relevant again):

http://media.mtvnservices.com/mgid:uma:video:mtvmusic.com:46306

For me this song came to describe, line by line, a seriously screwy relationship I had with a girl during high school. We never dated or anything – she was already involved with the man she’d eventually marry – but there was a great deal of emotional intimacy developed during my last two years at home. These first three stanzas aptly sum up the mental flotsam that lingered for, quite seriously, years after I moved away:

So I always get nostalgic with that song.
But in my room it’s forced. It has to be in some car across the street.

And I always catch the back of your head in a crowd.
Just don’t turn around. It’s never you and you’ll ruin those memories.

And those photos are great if I catch em with the side of my eye.
But if I stare, it just turns into you and me. We’re just standing there

You know what, though? It’s now nearly ten years since I left Lunenburg County, and in those years I’ve never stopped loving this song. The baggage is gone and I experienced closure ages ago, but I enjoyed this track even in media res. The same goes for a number of other songs associated with my sadder memories, from the Allman Brothers‘ “Melissa” to “The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys” by Traffic.

I acknowledge that individual personalities and experiences are likely influencers here. Maybe I haven’t yet experienced something heart-rending enough to spoil some previously beloved music. For my part, however, I prefer to revel in the songs themselves than pretend they didn’t exist just because they might be connected to some sour recollections.

So you crank that song, and it might sound doomed.
So just leave the room while I sit’n stare, ’cause yeah that’s rare.
I really love that tune.
Man I love that song…
I love that song…
I love that song…

3 thoughts on “That Song

  1. I think the reason we still listen to those songs is because they are connected to times when we felt very deeply. Having that sort of emotional amplification is infectious, even if it’s painful. I wrote a legion of songs in high school from dwelling on heartbreak to bring myself to a point of focus.I’m happier now, but I still feel some of the tug whenever I hear “Black” by Pearl Jam.

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