There are some songs that are so monumental that I clearly remember where I was when I first heard them. The thing they have in common is that they are musically revolutionary. As the song plays I can feel the depth of its impending impact on music culture. It’s revealed to me slowly as my brain fails to classify the song and I realize how much it will change the current structure. Here are the most memorable to me:
One of the strangest song stories I have is from college. I was at a party and was um, imbibing, and there was this music playing that was just so good I kept asking the hostess who it was. She kept telling me but I kept forgetting and would ask her again a few minutes later. Finally in exasperation she took a slip of paper and wrote, “NIRVANA,” on it and put it in my hand (it was the Bleach album). The next morning I found the paper in my pocket and had no recollection of what “NIRVANA” referred to but figured I must’ve had a great time at her party! I taped the paper on my mirror in my dorm room, hoping I could reach nirvana every night.
Two years later, I pulled into the parking lot of Antone’s Records in Austin and this song was on the radio. I stopped the car, sat there, and listened, stunned. In the era of Guns n Roses, this was something so raw and real yet pop perfect that I knew the game had just changed completely. It took several more months before I put two and two together and realized that’s what the “NIRVANA” paper on my mirror referred to this band!
This video came on while I was walking out of my bedroom and I remember thinking, “Oh yet another beautiful ingénue singing a forgettable song,” but as I stood and listened to the lovely simplicity and sincerity in her voice I took another look and knew that this was a face that we would become quite familiar with.
I was driving down I-5 to Capitol Hill and my first thought when I heard this was, “What the hell kind of drugs is Madonna on now?” As the song progressed I debated whether Madonna would dare use guitars that rockin and while I thought Madonna might be able to pull off the feminist message, I had the feeling that I was listening to a voice that was going to eclipse even the Material Girl herself.
Driving down 520 I heard the piano plinking and almost turned it off, thinking it was Tori Amos. Amy’s voice was so haunting I hesitated before changing stations and as the guitars entered I was blown away. By the time the rap bridge hit, I knew this was a game changer.
OK, this song may not have totally revolutionized modern music culture, but it sure was revolutionary to me. At first I thought it was a song from the 80’s that I vaguely remembered but as it went on and I became fascinated by the way Matthew Bellamy inhaled after every phrase. An earworm like no other – I ordered the import version of this CD before it was released in the states. I had to have it.
What are your monumental song memories?