Personal Moments in Music

Karolina Grabowska STAFFAGE

Greg McClure

When I listen to music, I time travel.

Let me explain.

Listening to a certain song, artist, or album takes me back to what my life was like and the person I was at the time of my first listen or a moment that has become intertwined with the music. If life is a series of moments, my life has been a series of moments in music.

“Tom Sawyer” – Rush 

My dad is a huge Rush fan, so I listened to a lot of Rush growing up. When my dad got the remastered CDs, he gave me his old copies, and I’d take them up to my room and listen to them. I’d listen to them before school, after school, before bed, I’d even listen to it while I slept.

The album I listened to most frequently was Moving Pictures, and my favorite song was ‘Tom Sawyer.” I was so enamored with the song, I felt the need to share it with other people. When my first grade music teacher asked if anyone wanted to sing a song for the class, I knew what I had to do.

The next morning I put the lyric packet from Moving Pictures in my backpack. When the music teacher inquired, I raised my hand. When I got up in front of the class, I was overtaken by stage fright and muttered the first four lines of my favorite song before rushing back to my seat.

“London Calling” – The Clash 

In fifth grade, I saw the music video for the Clash song “London Calling” for the first time, and a whole new world appeared. It was my first taste of punk, and I was hooked. It was so direct in its feelings yet sometimes so vague in its message, “Cause London is drowning and I, I live by the river.” What does that mean?

I’d listen to the song every day before school. It wasn’t long before I looked through the related videos list, and started listening to the Ramones, the Sex Pistols, and so many others. This song opened my eyes to the fact that there is a vast landscape of music waiting to be heard. Hearing this song takes me back to the first time that I thought, “What else sounds like this? I need to find out.”

“A Little God in My Hands” – Swans

“You should check out Swans, I don’t know how I feel about them,” said a friend. “They’re like a less accessible Sonic Youth.” The next day, I began my journey through their vast discography.

My friend had probably only heard their album To Be Kind at the time he was talking to me, but my first taste of Swans was their first full-length release, Filth. It marked the first time I was truly terrified by music, but I haven’t stopped listening. At this point in my life, I no longer felt that my friends or family had to like what I liked, which was good because my family hated Swans, and probably still do.

Every time I listen to one of their songs I am taken back to when my dad asked me to “turn that down” because it “wasn’t music.” I replied with the classic, “You just don’t understand, man.”