The Songs We Were Singing

This is a story about how I fell in love with music.

A few days ago I drove to Seattle to go to the Deck The Hall Ball, an incredible line up, with two of my current obsessions, Death Cab for Cutie and Mumford & Sons, headlining the event. While we were leaving we quickly chatted with a  Mother & Son who were climbing the stairs of Key Arena at the same time as us. It was the boy’s first concert, and he was maybe 11 years old. What a great choice, we told the family.

My first concert experience isn’t nearly as exciting, but it’s indicative of my music listening style. In grade 9 my friends and I started going to Ska shows in Victoria, where we grew up. Several friends had older brothers in a relatively well known local band, so I put on a tie over my tank top and headed out to my first concert. (Other than my own violin concerts). It wasn’t in an arena and it wasn’t a big name, but my friends were all there, and we experienced the music together.

That theme has continued for me. The best concerts I’ve been to involve my friends, hilarious stories, adventures, road trips, or  ferry rides. Piling into my tiny 2-door car and driving across the border, following friends in bands through state borders to book shops or libraries or university campuses. Quick phone calls and sudden plans made across hours of traveling. Planning the ultimate concert weekend, or buying spur of the moment tickets because that one band will play. Showing up at the venue to see the opening band has cancelled, and even though they’re the reason you bought the tickets you still stay in the front row, in front of the stage for the headliner you don’t know. Going to a concert with friends who love the band and coming away from it listening to one of their CDs for 6 weeks straight before going to see the same band in concert again.

I always say I’m never good at finding music by myself, but rely on my friends to tell me what to listen to, or who to try out. Music for me is a story through lyrics, the same way I love poetry. But the stories in the songs and the stories between friends, the experience of it all is what I love.

It’s always amazed me how I can hear a song and be transported back in my mind to where I was and who I was with when that song was on repeat for me. There’s a song by Paul McCartney, “We always came back to the song we were singing/ at any particular time” that sums it up for me. I can hear a song on the radio and be in High School again, in England, with friends across the country, or in another country. Specific people, specific times, they’re all connected to different songs in my mind.

Deck The Hall Ball - Dec 7, 2011

While High School and first year University are wrapped up in what songs were playing on our CD players, computers, or iPods, it wasn’t until second year that I started going to concerts, realizing that spending money on shows was more rewarding that some other things I could buy. I have fond memories of Regina Spektor, KT Tunstall, Kate Nash, The Proclaimers, Jeremy Fisher, Coldplay, Arctic Monkeys, The Mountain Goats, LMFAO, Ke$ha (Don’t judge, I have some theories on the subject for you). And this isn’t even a story about my nerd music tendencies. That story is for another time.

This past term was a great one for concerts for me. I realized how much I love Death Cab For Cutie. I sang ‘Don’t Stop Believin’ at the top of my lungs while a few hundred metres away Journey performed. I sat in Key Arena for over 8 hours watching seven bands (Grouplove, Two Door Cinema Club, Young The Giant, Forster the People, Cage the Elephant, DCFC & Mumford & Sons) play. There are three new tickets on my wall.

Mumford & Sons Take the Stage

And maybe I cried a little when Mumford and Sons took the stage at the end of the Deck The Hall Ball. But they’re more than just a band. They’re the CD I was listening to when I was struggling with future decisions in a job I didn’t love. They were the soundtrack of our road trip to San Francisco. They were playing as we drove for two days straight, as we jumped in the ocean in Northern California, as we wove through the turns along the coast in Oregon. Even though they weren’t yet a band when I lived there, they remind me of London and my hopes to go back there one day. They are poets and lyricists and I love their music. And I love that I could share their concert with wonderful friends

Concert Friends

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2 Responses to The Songs We Were Singing

  1. jennzee says:

    Your blog post made me cry, Pippa. And I definitely cried during Mumford. More than once. But my god, did it feel great.

    There’s a reason that when you walk into my room, ticket stubs are all over the wall above my desk. There is very little that beats music for me in general, but live music, seeing a band I love in concert, just the energy of the crowd–it makes me feel alive in a way I can’t really describe. It feels closer to humanity in a world where I spend so much of my time feeling lonely or insignificant; it means a moment where I feel close to God too (even in church, my heart is always laid bare in worship, in lifting my hands and offering a joyful noise to a loving creator, in the collective act of singing to a God I love).

    It means being feeling closer to the people who also love the music, or had the experience with you. “The Cave” still, to this day, puts me back on a stretch of road in Northern California, just having an adventure with one of the best people I know. “Yellow” still makes me think of butterfly confetti and the nicest border guard I’ve ever met. “I Will Possess Your Heart” now brings me right back to the second row of general admin, with all the raw energy and talent flowing of the stage.

    Music speaks to my soul in a way nothing else on the planet does. Live shows make my soul feel alive.

    I’m so glad we’ve gotten to have some awesome concert experience together, with more to come. Thank you for being up for crazy adventures and great stories and just for being a spectacular person. Here’s to many, many more, my friend.

  2. Ashly Kissman says:

    Sounds like fun!

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