Songs that remind me of stuff

Mariah Carey – Heartbreaker album
I was big into Mariah when I was younger. I’d sit warbling away to My All or Always Be My Baby, imagining a life where I was christened The Voice and asked to sing for the Queen and made people get a little teary with my beautiful singing. In my late teens, I still listened to anything and everything she sung but kept it a little quiet and pretended I was listening to Destiny’s Child. When I started learning to drive, my instructor was a slightly older gentleman who was a bit of a pushover. I wasn’t supposed to have any music on but knew he would let me, so made a mixtape of all my favourite Mariah hits, mostly from the Heartbreaker album and would listen to it on my driving lessons. There’s an area of Liverpool called Garston, that we drove through a lot so I always think of Garston when I hear that album.

Leaving on a Jet Plane by Peter, Paul and Mary (or Bjork)
When the gap year organisation that I went away with did the training session I was on, there were a few country groups being trained together. Us Namibia volunteers had been put with the two Mozambique volunteers, the two Bolivia volunteers and the really huge China group. There were about thirty of them going to different projects. Two of these volunteers, a boy called Joe and a girl called Robyn became my new favourite people. We were glued together most of the time, finding everything ridiculously funny and just generally having fun. Somehow, a discussion of our favourite songs came up and Joe and I had the sane favourite song – Leaving on a Jet Plane. And we all were about to leave in jet planes for our gap years! I loved the original by Peter, Paul and Mary. He loved the cover by Bjork. So this confirmed it. We were destined to be best friends forever. In case you were wondering, Robyn and Joe and I are still good friends. It must have been the mutual song-love.

Dispatch – The General
When I was on my gap year, my friend Lucy used to listen to this song all the time. This reminds me of foolish nights out when we had first arrived and didn’t quite know what we were doing and had a load of friends over, post-pub, talking nonsense for hours, despite the fact that we would be teaching a few hours later.

Lauryn Hill and Bob Marley – Turn Your Lights Down Low
We were on the longest bus journey in the world, my friend and I, travelling from Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh. It was Cambodian New Year so the traffic on the roads was horrendous. Instead of taking six hours, it took twelve. My friend had a combination of things wrong, an ear infection, really bad bites, vomiting. It was really worrying but there was nothing we could do except wait to get to Phnom Penh. Being the non-doctor I am, I had diagnosed possible malaria. It was all quite scary. He was sleepy so I leaned awkwardly and lay his head on my chest and stroked his arm in an attempt to comfort him. After an hour or two, I had extreme backache, sideache, neckache, shoulderache and everything else but couldn’t move as Chennour was finally sleeping. I gingerly leaned around him and got his iPod and plugged myself in, hoping to tune out from the pain for a bit. Somehow, Lauryn Hill and Bob Marley had been set to repeat and I couldn’t figure out how to stop it. So I spent the last few hours of that journey extremely uncomfortable and listening to Turn Your Lights Down Low on repeat. Painful/humorous memories.

Faith Hill
This is another Namibia memory. We were trying to get to Cape Town for our Christmas holidays. We had bought bus tickets and needed to switch buses in a town called Keetmanshoop (pronounced Keet-mans-hoop, not Keet-man-shoop, which we did for an embarrassingly long time until someone corrected us). We got off the first bus and waited for the second bus. And waited. And waited. Two hours late, the bus arrived, everyone else got on, Lucy and I, ever the Brits, queued politely at the edge of the crowd and were last to get on. There was only one seat left, we were told. We got ready to fume, we had been sold tickets, we demanded to be allowed on! Not to worry, we were told, there’s one a few minutes behind. Ok, that’s fine then. We sat down and waited. We looked up and down the road, we took turns falling asleep on our bags, we ate everything we had brought for the journey, shops closed for the night then opened for the morning again, 9pm turned into 7am. We were two 18 years olds, in a town in the middle of nowhere, with bus tickets we couldn’t use and no other mode of transport available. Then a man approached. Your typical prematurely-balding, pale, wide-eyed, plays-the-psychotic-murderer-in-a-film type. And offered us a lift. We jumped at it. Bags were grabbed, common sense was left behind, and we jumped into the car with this potential torturer. He asked if we wanted any music on. The silence was a bit awkward. All I could find was a Faith Hill album, so I put it on and played it all the way through. Then pressed play when it ended, to keep the silence at bay. And pressed play again. And again. For the entire seven hour journey…..

Damien Rice
I’ve forgotten what his first album was called. I got it in first year at Glasgow Uni and would listen to it every night to try and block out the booming noises from the floor above. I don’t know whether the banging upstairs was music, I could only hear extremely loud thuds, like someone bashing the floor with a hammer. Awful. I hated them. Every time I hear a Damien Rice song, I can still feel the annoyance of the bangs from upstairs but also see the view of the park out of my window, which was nice.

Gwen Stefani – Cool. And James Blunt – Goodbye My Lover
These were both out around the time I was in China climbing the Great Wall. When I’d finished, I stayed with my friend Joe (same one as before) in Beijing for a bit. He was living there, studying. These two songs became about the distant nature of our friendship. We’d spent so little time together but still had an amazing time whenever we did see each other. These songs always remind me of those early days of our friendship, when we had to travel the world to see each other. Nowadays we just have to travel across London. Much easier.

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7 responses to this post.

  1. All good songs.

    Reply

  2. what a great idea for a blog topic, I have plenty of songs that remind me of things as well, except my memory doesn’t extend to actually remembering their names.. ohh well.

    Reply

    • You should do one too. Go for it!

      Reply

      • I’ve just started, we are staying in a little place on Koh Tao, they seem to have only one CD to play, and they play it endlessly, the best of Coldplay, over and over and over…Every time I hear Coldplay from now on, it’s Koh Tao all over again,
        All together now

        ” Oh and it’s the hardest part
        That’s the hardest part
        Yeah that’s the hardest part
        That’s the hardest part ”

        It’s great stuff…..real deep, I do seriously feel sorry for the couple of workers who have to listen to it all day, it must be like some kind of torture for them.

  3. […] LLM’s piece on “Songs that remind me of stuff”. I have those as well but I also have artists that stand out in my musical memories. They stand […]

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