“A song that reminds you of a VERY specific place or moment.”
I remember through relation. If audio media is playing that has any ability to stimulate me, for better or worse, I’ll typically get everything around me imprinted in my memory with the song or sound. That being said, I have an impossible amount that I could mention, but I’m trying hard to pick just one.
I feel pulled to mention this one, so I’ll roll with it.
I saw Nightwish in Oklahoma City, at the Diamond Ballroom. It was my very first concert. I was in my late teens–something like 17–and would start transitioning into malehood the next year, so, at the time, I was a tiny weird chick with awfully homemade dreads.
(THIS IS UNNECESSARY PREFACE, SKIP TO NEXT ALL-CAPS LINE FOR THE TOO LONG, DIDNT READ VERSION.)
I met Annette’s (singer at the time) personal attendant outside the hotel before we left for the show. I told him good day in Finnish. (Hyvää päivää.) He told me he was swedish. I was beyond embarrassed, but I shook his hand anyway. Turns out, we we’re staying at the same hotel as the band, on the same floor, but at opposite ends.
It was cold as balls and the line was long to get into the venue. I wasn’t as close to the stage as I wanted to have been because my dad’s girlfriend ran us late. The concert was amazing. A weighty dwarf tried to start a mosh going but got no takers. He shoved the fuck out of me, though. I was mad enough to kill him at the time, Tony little me, but I love the memory now. Even with Annette, they put on a hell of a show. I’ll never forget the Poet and the Pendulum live.
On the way to the hotel room, we managed to ride the elevator with the bassist, Marco Hietala, the guitarist, Emppu Vuorinen, and a roadie with an ice chest. We were stuck at the vending machine beside the elevators and I could have outright died when I looked up and saw them coming. My dad and Marco did all of the talking. Emppu smiled big and said nothing, but at one point, toasted his Heineken at us with a small acknowledging noise. My dumb ass thought it was a Sprite.
Midway up, a gathering of people joined the elevator ride, all wearing the same thing. Some kind of group for a youth sports team, I think. The chatty woman among them said to Marco, “Oh, you’re in a band?? Are you Christian, or regular?” Those exact fucking words. And his reply, with admirable hesitance and politeness was “we’re.... kind of metal.” Very soft-spoken and humble. Conversation was replaced with awkward silence until they departed. We got off at the same floor and parted ways, and I issued them a good night in Finnish, (Hyvää yötä), in a terrible accent I’m sure. At least I knew they weren’t Swedish.
I had so much adrenaline from that moment I couldn’t sleep. I gushed to online friends about it and figured none of them believed me. I had been too paralyzed to take a fucking picture in the crowded elevator. It would have felt so awkward. I only had a handheld camera, not a phone.
(FAST FORWARD TO THE NEXT DAY, AND THIS BEGINS THE PART THAT ANSWERS THE PROMPT.)
We departed for home early that next morning. I’d hardly slept, but I wasnt tired in the least. It’d be hours before we got home and it was extremely overcast and bitterly chill. I had a classic iPod with 160gb and very few albums loaded onto it. One of them was Nightwish’s best-of compilation, Highest Hopes. I put it on shuffle with my earbuds in.
Then, the song happened. It shuffled onto a song called Creek Mary’s Blood. I wasn’t familiar with it, but by the end, I knew I’d never forget it.
We were driving south through the rolling mountain foothills of SE Oklahoma. It was November and the trees were already bare. I looked on that landscape with different eyes while that song played. On the way there, the landscape had been a hurdle of inconvenience between me and the event. It was modern roads and gas stations. On the way home, I noticed every bole and snag, every patch of farmland and low, dark cloud. I could feel the textures with my eyes. I felt the history of the land and felt drawn to the tragedies of the people here before us. I usually sympathized against the settling of the US by European entities anyway, but in that moment, it had enraptured my soul and it was all I knew.
The poem in the song is Lakota and not something that would have originated in Oklahoma, but it chilled me to the bone none the less. I’d still love to know that language. It is amazing.
So, anyway, when that song comes on, rare occasion that it is, immediately I’m seventeen again. I feel the cold of near winter. I see the sullen landscape, grey and dreary, shadows on rolling hills. I want to touch the crests of withered prairie grass in the flats of the valleys and watch those low clouds creep eerily by. It sedates me, sobers me, and takes me far out of my own body and experience. Words can never express.
Anyway, thanks for coming to my TEDtalk, lmao. Didn’t intend to post that much.