On Monday night I attended an open mic spoken word session in the basement of a bar in the Oberkampf neighborhood. The theme was “First time/First love.” A girl originally from Jamaica performed a piece about her first love in Paris. The relationship did not end well. She thinks of him every time she eats ice cream, she said, and every time she feels sick after.
I assume she took poetic license—I have to, because a man turning someone off ice cream is too sad for me to contemplate—but her words made me think about how certain songs remind me of people or moments experienced and forgotten before a tune causes them to resurface.
Once, I was in a car with a friend when a song that he really liked came on the radio. His unabashed singing along with it thoroughly entertained me. After that I would smile and think of him whenever I heard it. Then came a time when things between us were tense, and I would change the radio station when it played. Now that things are good between us, I don’t mind the song one way or another. I no longer seek out or avoid it.
When my family was going through a particularly hard time, I listened to one song on repeat. It served me well, but I have no desire or need to listen to it anymore.
During my first few weeks in Paris, I walked around with the theme song from the classic French movie “Amélie” in my head. Though cliché, I couldn’t help it. It was a happy soundtrack to my life as I crossed bridges over the Seine River with the Eiffel Tower in view.
On the long plane ride to visit my ill grandmother who would pass away one month later, I discovered great music from Ireland, France, and Italy. I don’t think about that trip every time I hear these songs, but I can still imagine the feeling of listening to them in that cramped seat, the overhead lights all off, with my mother beside me.
Selena’s “Dreaming of You” takes me back to a dim cafeteria cum middle school dance. My friends (all girls, obviously) and I lean against the stage in this space that also serves as our auditorium. We watch some of our classmates dance to this “slow song.” Later, our parents will pick us up, but for now we in the thick of awkward pre-adolescence.
Do certain songs evoke people or past moments for you?