The first, most coherent memory I have of music is listening to it in the car with my father. He would constantly switch through the radio stations trying to find an ideal soundtrack to accompany his drive. My dad would also frequently play CDs to take a break from the on air shuffling and settle for a more concrete selection.
My dad has always been the more musically-inclined one in the family. I like to think he got the interest originally from my uncle, his older brother, who used to be in a band. It got to the point where my dad had accumulated multiple records, cassettes and CDs that he had a collection large enough to rival a FYE store. I also like to think that he passed down that interest to me.
I first started to love music at a very young age. For some reason, the words and melodies that serenaded me through my dad’s car speakers would always stick with me and I could instantly recognize a familiar song everywhere I went. I started off listening to Kidz Bop CDs on repeat. This is where I developed an education of music without even realizing it. It would not be until much later that I would rediscover songs from this era in my life. These songs would have a historical significance that I knew absolutely nothing about. I only knew that they sounded good and that I liked them.
Middle school was the turning point for me with my relationship with music. I used to listen to a portable radio on the bus to school every morning. I started to develop a mental list of songs on the radio that I enjoyed to look up later in iTunes. Once I got my first iPod, everything changed. I would scour iTunes for hours, looking up songs, reading about artists and sampling as many previews as possible. One could say that I was borderline obsessed with music and discovering its rich history – specifically within my lifetime. This is a passion I still carry with me to this day and seek to also make a living out of.
High school was the time of my life where music gained more substance and essence: specifically junior year. Junior year was a tough time for me during soccer season. I had experienced an extreme confidence crisis when I did not make the Varsity squad and had to play alongside people who barely knew anything about the sport. To put it short, I felt very overlooked and underestimated: a feeling that surfaced as a common thread in my life. So what did I turn to in times like these? Music. Simple.
I would bury myself in my music selections during times of doubt and frustration. My frustration was not only with myself, but also with the world in general and how I felt it viewed me. I was never particularly close with my family and did not have a strong friend group, so music was the only solution in my eyes for solving most problems.
This was the time in my life I developed an emotional attachment to artists and lyrics that made me feel like I had a purpose. I still can recall using P!nk’s “The Truth About Love” album to calm me down before practice and Tinashe’s “Aquarius” to block out all my outer thoughts to focus on my emotions. These are just a few of the selections that helped me through difficult times.
I was able to develop real connections to these songs and artists that I chose to fill my iTunes library with. Each one was carefully selected through my own screening process and, for some of them, ended up being my best friends and companions. I know I must sound like such a nerd and loner but it was true. There is a quote I found once that stated “when asked why I love music so much, I responded: ‘because it is the only thing that stays when everyone else leaves.’” That for me has been true on so many levels.
Although people and experiences have come and gone in my life, the music from those times still stays with me – either reminding me of positive messages, fun memories, heartbreak or triumphs. Music for me is a constant reminder that wherever it is that I am going, it will be much better than where I have been.
Fast forward to today and music still is the most important art form in my life. I have used music to get me through the worst of times and the best of times. I feel a stronger connection to this substance more than any person I have encountered. I know for a fact that music has changed my life and will continue to impact me as long as I live.
I try to use the lessons that music has taught me to get through life even when I am not directly listening to it. There’s always a song or lyrical message playing in my head at some point in the day (and if you’re around me long enough you most likely will hear it) just to make sure I do not go too long without my “first love.” I just hope to find more people to share this passion and attachment with me, just as my dad did.