While I was studying for macroeconomics this past weekend, I felt compelled to listen to Frank Ocean’s “Thinkin Bout You” after hearing The Theorist’s piano cover. Immediately, crystal clear images of my previous school, UC Santa Barbara, emerged in my mind. Sometimes I would recall various events, but mostly, what I seemed to remember the most were emotions blurred with the various places I frequently passed by.
Obviously, I also had feelings of uncertainty during my first weeks at USC. But, listening to “Thinkin Bout You” specifically blended the similar doubts I felt at UCSB with my walks past the lagoon or roaming around Isla Vista. I listened to this song so many times during my first quarter at Santa Barbara that I’ve forever associated those 10 weeks with this song. It was one of many symbolic connections that I make between songs and various aspects of my life.
Whenever I look back on certain songs or albums, they each seem to represent distinct emotions tied to specific events. On one hand, making these connections is understandable; if an event heavily influenced your life, then it’s nice to have a memento of it. For example, I will forever associate Macklemore’s “Can’t Hold Us” with my time in “The PAPER,” my high school newspaper. As the only sophomore on the staff, I wanted to get along better with the rest of the writers and section editors. After one issue was delayed, I willingly went up to the front of the classroom and began singing and dancing to the 2013 hit. The performance was so beloved that it soon became a common occurrence during late nights.
Even though I only listened to Third Eye Blind’s “Jumper” one time while hanging out with my friend Dylan two summers ago, it reminds me of each time we met up during those three months, and I strongly associate it with that entire summer.
Looking back, the songs that held the most meaning for me were tied to phases of my life. At the end-of-the-year pep rally during my senior year, two students performed The Head and the Heart’s “Rivers and Roads” as a goodbye song to the entire senior class. Every so often, I listen to this song to remind myself of those months as the slow, acoustic melody perfectly captured the bittersweet feelings I had during this time.
An important factor that went into creating any connections, event or phase was to ensure that one song would not be associated with more than one event. “HUMBLE.” could’ve been a perfect encapsulation of my third quarter at UCSB, as Mike WiLL Made-It’s production is so discernable that it could bring about the anxiety I had while I waited to hear back from USC or the campus atmosphere when I passed by UCSB’s Storke Tower at night.
However, because Kendrick Lamar is my favorite modern-day musician, I continually listened to the single throughout the rest of the year. Thus, its sole connection to UCSB disappeared as various emotions and events from throughout the rest of 2017 (ones that weren’t as impactful, might I add) blurred with the distinct ones strictly associated with UCSB until it didn’t easily define one phase of my life.
Honestly, I could probably compile a playlist for the songs that defined each quarter at UCSB. Attributing life experiences to songs enables you to recall moments of your life that could’ve unknowingly helped form you as a person or were positive memories that are worth looking back on. At its most effective, relics of our past can indicate distinct phases of our lives, which is what “Thinkin Bout You” helped remind me of after I casually put it in my queue.
Ryan Song is a sophomore majoring in business administration. His column, “At Song Last,” runs every other Thursday.