Within the last two weeks, I’ve graduated from high school, turned 18-years-old, and attended college orientation. Now that I’ve rapidly registered for new courses and mingled amongst people with new and different stories, I reflect on what has helped reach this new chapter: music. Music is storytelling, whether in the instrumentals or the lyrics, it comes together so that we can all find guidance. Though I’ve enjoyed these last two weeks, they wouldn’t be complete without time to reflect. With music, I find reflection. It helps me take the time to look for the seen and unseen. It helps me adapt to not knowing.
With that being said, I want to give tribute to the 11 songs that have helped me the most, in the most confusing of times. So whether they bring you reflection or more eagerness to move on, I hope that these verses ring throughout your soul and provide you assurance. Enjoy.
1. “Jon Bellion’s One Way to San Diego” by QuESt
“Stay your, stay your course young man. There’s a light at the end of the road that you’re living.” These were the words that cried out to me from the depths of thousand vacant lockers. The song rang between my ears during those remaining months of high school; giving guidance and assurance through an insightful set of lyrics. In the final seconds, Jon Bellion’s smooth falsetto is halted by QuESt’s short, but reassuring words of wisdom. It’s somewhat of a sermon within a poem; where he preaches about the beauty of the unknown and the light inside of your journey. So to say the least, QuESt’s final words and Bellion’s peaceful octaves combine for a truthful message, which we should never forget.
2. “Head Full Of Doubt/Road Full Of Promise” by The Avett Brothers
In this world, you have two things: yourself and everyone else. Sometimes this way of thinking causes seclusion, but in other times—a time like when you first hear this song—it reminds you of who you are, and how to never forget that. In this song, the lyrics bring listeners to a serene place where all they can hear is themselves. A piano, drums and the voice of an ever-lasting soul are added to finalize a special message for all dreamers. That message being, “Decide what to be and go be it.”
3. “Speed Of Sound” by Coldplay
"Speed Of Sound” by Coldplay; a song that reminds us to listen. We are to listen to our hearts and for the heartbeat of others, but if we do not then we will not hear what life has to offer.
4. “Now & Forever” by Drake
When I first heard this song I thought that it was just Drake being heartbroken. However, it was explained to me that it was about his breaking-off from Young Money, which made the song even more relatable. I distinctly remember turning the corners of my high school’s hallways when Drake cried out, “I’m leaving, I’m leaving, I’m gone.” It is a rather emotional, but very situational tribute to moving forward. This hip-hop anthem has a cowbell that’ll ring forever and a message that’ll put your past to rest. The breaking off of old friendships and the preserving of past knowledge is depictive of any new chapter.
5. “When My Time Comes” by Dawes
Dawes released this song when they were just becoming noticed as an up and coming band. Much like The Avett Brothers, this band has the ability to locate the hiding place of your true self. This rock song uses the electric guitar and a bit of country twang to aid the angst of a tired teen.
6. “Change” by Moon Taxi
I once saw Moon Taxi live at a local venue. The place was flooded with college students coming in and out of the door while I danced enthusiastically. The music was great, to say the least, but what I was most taken by was the crowd. You see, there are two similarities between those college students and me 1) our love for Moon Taxi 2) our need for change.
7. “I Wonder” by Kanye West
A young Kanye West is surprisingly a good role model for youthful dreamers. In this song you can hear all of West’s personal and global dreams, including a lot of thought about his future actions. He begins almost every line with “I wonder…” to simply imply that the future is unknown, but is controlled by our own doing.
8. “Be As You Are” by Mike Posner
In "Be As You Are," Mike Posner wears his heart on his sleeve while addressing how he lost himself in search of fame. In the middle of the song, he quotes his own mother in order to emphasize the importance of failure. Mike Posner’s comeback hit reminds us that the world can sometimes be a cave, and the only way out is to go backwards. Sometimes, backwards is okay.
9. “Way Out There” by Lord Huron
There’s this bearded old man named “Badhair,” who used to visit my summer camp as a storyteller. When I first heard “ Way Out There”, it reminded me of Badhair’s tale about a lost cowboy in the Midwest. In listening to the song, you can imagine yourself as that lost cowboy—wandering while you ponder who you want to be. The band talks about exploring the possibility of change, at the same time providing a smooth instrumental. In these four minutes of this hypntic song, you don’t know where you are; you’re just somewhere “way out there.”
10. “Blackbird” by The Beatles
“Take your broken wings and learn to fly,” were the pieces of advice that Paul McCartney gave me before I started playing the guitar. "Blackbird" was one of the first relatively difficult songs I learned, and after learning the song, I felt that I could officially call myself a guitarist. Now whenever I play this song, or hear its lyrics, I remember that specific initiative and how it can make anything possible.
11. “I Will Be Back One Day” by Lord Huron
It’s true. I will be back one day and so will you. People never forget where they come from; in fact, our roots are embedded into our hearts and ourselves. If we always stay true to our hearts, then we will eventually find ourselves back home. Though the location may change, the meaning of home will always remain the same.