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A Changing Soundtrack

April 25, 2014 - Carrie Olson
Silence is golden, but music is gleaming silver.

Ever since I was little, I had some kind of album that I called my very own.

When I was in first grade, I received my first boombox for Christmas. Santa even included a few gems, with cassettes by New Kids On The Block, Madonna, and Janet Jackson. But the stocking stuffer that I favored was Wilson Phillips' debut album. I listened to side A and B over and over, and the tiny lyrics were barely readable from smudging them with my oatmeal pie-covered fingers. I even got the matching keyboard music, as I was quite the budding musician. And even though I had barely spoken to any boys, "Your In Love", a song about a break-up just rang true to my heart.

Throughout the following years, Ace Of Base, Mariah Carey, and other '90s music filled my ears. I knew much about Chicago as it was my dad's favorite band, and I knew the words to a lot of R&B and to hit musicals through my mom's tastes. It wasn't until my freshmen year that I fully devoured albums to the extent that WP had done for me so many years earlier. My brother was a complete devotee to '70s rock, and as I idolized him, I began my obsession with rocking out as well. While he favored The Doors, our rides to and from school in his old beater car were that of Led Zeppelin. I knew that I had to like them. I just did. And through each album, I finally chose the one that was my favorite. Houses Of The Holy.

Sophomore year was filled with rock from different decades, from Smashing Pumpkins to Beastie Boys. I still spent much of my time with LZ's hits, but a friend in cross country introduced me to Aerosmith. Again, I collected all of their CD's, but my favorite was a live album called A Little South Of Sanity. I ran miles listening to Steven Tyler scream into my ear about crazy women, obsessions, and love gone wrong.

Junior year progressed with my first actual boyfriend who introduced me to Jimmy Eat World. Clarity is still my absolute favorite album, and I would push the rewind button on my Walkman after the chorus faded on "Goodbye Sky Harbor", over and over.

Senior year gave me the Almost Famous soundtrack. I had received it a couple years earlier as a Christmas gift, but didn't really listen to anything other than "Tiny Dancer" at the time. Simon and Garfunkel's "America" and Yes' "I've Seen All Good People". I love, love that soundtrack.

After graduating, I gained an appreciation for newer artists. My then boyfriend (now husband) started creating mixed CDs with cartoons imprinted on them and would tape them to the windshield of my car while I worked at the local grocery store. Jack Johnson's Brushfire Fairytales became my summer go-to. While we hung out in Briggs Woods, walked along the trail and lazed in the watering holes, I thought often of his songs.

The next few years of college came and went with Ben Folds, Aimee Mann, Arcade Fire and Bob Dylan. I gained appreciation for George Harrison's solo works and started listening to indie artists (as college kids do). But heartbreak came and so did Zach Braff's The Last Kiss soundtrack. It. Is. So. Good. Garden State was good - this was better. People will argue with me on that one, it's just my honest opinion. He reintroduced me to Fiona Apple, made me first aware of one of my now absolute favorite artists Rachael Yamagata, and gave me "Warning Sign" by Coldplay - my go-to song for a lonely heart. My CD was completely scratched unusable after being slammed into my car's CD player so many times by my shaking fingers.

Wilco. CSNY. Joni Mitchell. Nickel Creek. And then OK Computer, a masterpiece by Radiohead. I had owned it for a few years (to be hip and cool), but only listened to one or two songs from the CD before throwing it into the pile. I began playing it constantly in my little Dodge Neon - and now, I'm basically sold on anything that has ever come out of that band.

Although I have listened to various musicians and played multiple albums over and over, it wasn't until the summer of 2009 when I had another soundtrack to call my own. Elizabethtown. I drove out to the East Coast to work at a theater festival. On my time off, I would drive fast around the winding mountains to Lindsey Buckingham, Ryan Adams and Tom Petty. The music was this twisted amount of softness, edge and beauty. For someone who needed a brand new start, it was absolutely perfect. Out of any albums I have ever owned - this was the most necessary.

Now, what? I have my monthly subscription to Spotify and frequently listen to Pandora, so my playlists vary. I have stopped hating on the country genre and truly love bluegrass. I'm still not a huge Top 40 fan, but I have given artists like Pharrell a good listening to. But if I want to be truly happy and jam to my heart's content, only Neil Young or Robert Plant's wailing voice will really do.

I have always considered music to be a dear, dear friend in my life. Soundtracks and albums almost take on a lifelike persona, as people are multifaceted, different and interesting. Different genres, different tempos, and always including one or two snippets that you feel could have been left out - yet, that's the finished product and what it is is what you get.


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