Monumental song memories

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.

Smells Like Teen Spirit (Nirvana)

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!

Come Away With MeCome Away With Me (Norah Jones)

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.

Tragic KingdomI’m Just a Girl (No Doubt)

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.

FallenBring Me To Life (Evanescence)

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.

Time is Running Out (Muse)

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?


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