The first song I ever memorized all the words to was "Bonfire" by Childish Gambino. Nothing about this song is in any way prolific or life-altering. However, I learned it while going on nightly drives with one of my best friends from home, screaming at the top of our lungs. Now whenever I hear this song, I am transported back to Polk Blvd. nights and the smell of pine car air fresheners.
Music translates into memories. I love songs not only for their message or tune but for who I hear them with and where I am. I listen to "Fergalicious" because it reminds me of cross country races, standing under our team tent dancing and laughing with one of my friends to expel pre-meet jitters. "Horchata" by Vampire Weekend takes me back to driving under the lights of downtown Des Moines during my first date with my now-boyfriend of two years. I think of sitting on the campus mall, soaking in sunshine and popsicles and new-found friends whenever I hear "Kings of Summer" by Quinn XCII.
There is nothing better than hearing the song. The song that gets you through your first break-up, the one you listen to with fogged up windows and messy mascara. The song that switches right when you are about to give up at the gym that motivates you to hold your plank for just one second longer. The song that relaxes you after a long day of class and the song that makes you sink one inch deeper into love. The one that you cannot help but belt in the shower, the echoes of the bathroom walls turning you into a celebrity on stage. The song that makes you feel unstoppable and the one that makes you dance throughout the chorus every time (which objectively has to be "I Wanna Dance with Somebody" by Whitney Houston).
Everyone has their songs.
By compiling all these songs into playlists, I enact in the most therapeutic exercise. When I knew I was moving to a college seven hours from my hometown, I made a playlist titled "You're Moving 7 Hours From Home...Cry." When I needed motivation to workout I made a "Get Hype You're at the Gym" playlist. For every season change, I have an accompanying collection of music to match the moods of the weather. However, I do not just make playlists for myself. Instead of giving sorority sisters food or small gifts when they are stressed, I make them playlists. When long-distance is becoming too much for my boyfriend and me, I make playlists in order for us to feel closer. My way of becoming good friends with people? (Hint: it's a playlist titled after their name).
Playlists are my love language. When I cannot adequately communicate to someone how I am feeling, I let music do it for me. When I am overjoyed or discouraged or homesick or in need of motivation, I make a playlist as an outlet for my emotions. Spotify playlists are an art, one that I have come to master over the years. For whenever I need a break from the chaos of life and take four minutes for myself, I turn on the song.
You know the one.