I recently took a trip back in time; I found my old iPod, stocked with music from my middle school and early high school years. Scrolling through the tracks, I’m faced with so many questions about my previous self. I begin to wonder if I am even the same person. Why did I like Coldplay so much? What was Death Cab for Cutie doing between 2007 and 2010 that was so interesting to me? Skrillex — really? I can almost feel the braces back on my teeth. The mix is largely made up of angst-driven pop punk, a smattering of acoustic singer-songwriters and what I then thought was really cool, obscure electronic music.
But I can’t be too hard on 13-year-old me. Aside from the more questionable, highly embarrassing records, a lot of the songs bring back great memories; the kinds of songs that take you back just by hearing the first few chords. Images of concerts, friends and summer hangouts fill my mind. To this day, whenever I think about old music my mind immediately jumps to my first concert experience — Panic! at the Disco, fifth grade, Palace of Auburn Hills, with my friend and her dad. Oy, how times have changed. (Who am I kidding? I still love Panic). Stronger than the concert experience is a memory of all the emotions attached to it. A certain feeling comes along with this kind of nostalgia, something only music can achieve. There are no images being presented to you, no direct narratives to jog your memory — only the moments and people you have personally linked to that track or experience.
Though the music I listened to when I was younger may not be the most inspired or well-crafted, it was only the beginning of my love for the arts. I was just starting to explore all that was out there, not really knowing how or where to find new artists. Listening to it all again now, I’m able to notice so many little nuances in the music and wordplay in the lyrics that I didn’t catch in my earlier years. I appreciate it not so much for its overall content or composition, but for the role these tracks have played in my musical journey.
Many of the artists on that iPod lead me to discover some of my favorites of today. They laid the groundwork for what genres and sounds I liked most, and I was able to go from there. Crystal Castles led me to Purity Ring and Grimes, The Killers helped me find The Smiths, Kanye led to even more Kanye and the list goes on. I don’t think of these new faves as replacements, but rather as improvements. As my knowledge of music grows, so does my appreciation for genres outside of my usual sphere. I learned there is so much to be discovered, listened to and experienced that I can’t help but be fond of where all my interests started. Even if that means admitting my love for all things Coldplay.