Wednesday, July 30, 2014

{music and places}

I was having coffee with my cousin the other day and we were having that conversation (you know the one) about how certain songs bring you back to certain places and times. I feel like I've had that conversation a million times with a million people, but I love it every time and I'll keep having it because music and memories are just such excellent topic fodder.

On the drive home (which was exactly two hours and twenty minutes with a sweet fiery orange sunset burning in my rearview mirror) I picked a CD or song that reminded me most of each place I've lived since high school (minus the place I'm living now, because it's not a memory yet), in the style of Pip Plum. Because how else are you going to pass two hours and twenty minutes of driving by yourself? It's not an exhaustive list, and it's not even a list of all of my favourite CDs and songs from those times; just music that effectively takes me back to those places.


Pasqua Street House: Imogen Heap//Ellipse

Barclay and I bought the Pasqua Street House a little more than five years ago, just after we got engaged. We spent something like six months gutting it, drywalling it, painting it, putting in new floors, wallpapering it, just generally renovating our faces off, with the help of a few wonderful friends and family members. My old ghetto blaster sat in the corner through it all, blaring 1940s big band and 1990s punk and 1980s hair metal and whatever else came out of our eclectic collective CD collection.

That was the summer Imogen's Ellipse came out and I'm pretty sure we went down and bought it the day it hit the shelves at the HMV. We listened to it over, and over, and over again, for the remainder of the renos and afterward, and now when I hear it I smell drywall dust and picture Saturday mornings making pancakes in our cozy little green galley kitchen.

Grandma Guzz's House: Howie Beck//Flashover

Before Barclay and I were married, a series of strange events led to me being quite suddenly a little bit homeless and moving in with his grandma, who we affectionately know as Guzz. I slept in her basement for three months and we played a million games of Yahtzee (I lost every single one). She was probably the best housemate a girl could ask for.

There was an old alarm clock radio by my bed so I woke up and got ready every morning to the CBC. Whoever the morning DJ was at the time really loved this Howie Beck song from the album How to Fall Down in Public; he played it several mornings a week.

Prince of Wales House: David Gray//Please Forgive Me

When I came to Regina, it was to live with a couple girls I knew from high school back home. We had a townhouse in the east end of the city right by the prison. I was constantly afraid that an escaped convict was going to break in and kill me, but it never happened.


I met Barclay on my third day in the city, and he burnt me a CD with this song on it less than a month later. Smooth. Very smooth.

My Apartment on Fifth & Friesen: Jimmy Eat World//Clarity

The Fifth & Friesen apartment in Swift Current was not Pinterest-worthy. There were pictures sticky-tacked to the walls for decoration and a few pieces of (very) mismatched furniture (not in a twee way) and I slept on an air mattress and used my guitar case as a coffee table. A friend gave me a TV and it sat on the ground in front of the couch. There was a store down the street that sold hot tubs and used CDs. I bought a lot of CDs and no hot tubs. I found Clarity there, which is a funny thing to say about a place that sells hot tubs.

For a very short time, I lived with a couple of girls in a little farm house on a ranch just outside of Swift. Our schedules were exactly opposite: they were super responsible wife types who got up at 5 AM in the morning to bake bread and clean the bathroom. I was usually just getting in at that time from a show or hanging around with Karlie or whoever and didn't know how to bake bread.

It worked out fine and we got along really well, but I look back and feel like I maybe should've learned from them a little more. Oh well. I know how to bake bread now.

The Februarys played at The Lyric Theatre one night when I lived there and I went with a bunch of friends from school. The show was good and we hung out with the band after. It was one of those nights where absolutely nothing all that crazy happened but it was just solid fun.

Cabin in the Mountains: Tegan and Sara//So Jealous

The summer I spent in the mountains, I was alone a lot. I was living with a bunch of camp counsellors, and their job was fairly 24/7 while mine was just...well, like 6/7. I ran in the forest and kayaked around the lake in my backyard and hiked to my favourite waterfall almost daily. I had a little green mp3 player which only held a few CDs at a time. It had some Imogen Heap songs, some Modest Mouse, some Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Decemberists, Blindside, Andrew Bird, Brand New and T&S. But sometimes I'd just play the last song from So Jealous on repeat. I'm still not sick of it.

I went to a teeny tiny little Bible college out in the middle of nowhere for two years. By my second year, I had a pretty sweet little group of close friends and, being so far out in the prairies, we went on about a zillion road trips. I fully admit to (and feel bad about) commandeering the CD player every single time we got in the car and being kind of a jerk about it if anyone wanted to listen to country music.

That was also a time in my life where I didn't have internet access (aside from really slow crappy dial-up) and couldn't just hop on YouTube and find new music. So I'd go to CD Plus and buy a disc based purely on the artwork on the front. It usually worked out pretty well. I got this CD on one such trip, and made my friends listen to it all the way home. It was more poppy than anything else I owned, and I liked that about it. Now when I hear certain songs off of it I get super nostalgic for dorm dance parties. (Crystal, I know you're reading this. GET OVER HERE.)

Saskatoon Apartment: Brand New//Deja Entendu

Our apartment in Saskatoon was little, and there were five of us living in it--two in each bedroom and one on the couch in the living room. Rent was $50/month or something ridiculous like that. I ate Sidekicks probably every day. That summer in Saskatoon was an important time in my life because it taught me a huge lesson: you can get a library card and borrow as many CDs as you want for free. I got Deja Entendu out at the beginning of summer, and kept renewing it until the day I moved away that fall.

On my first day at Millar, I met a girl named Annette. We found each other in the gym and started talking about music because we were both wearing band t-shirts. Then we went back to our dorm rooms and got our five favourite CDs and traded. This was one of the ones she gave me. I listened to a lot, a lot, of other music that year, but this CD is the one that makes me think of that first day and meeting a million people but not remembering anyone's names and going to sleep in a strange bed and just feeling so thankful to have met just one person who I had something in common with.

So that was my mental exercise for the day. I've been listening to the music while writing this post and now I'm feeling pretty dang schmaltzy and sentimental. Gonna go write some "Hey! Remember when..." emails. 


  1. Okay, so I learned two things from this post. One - you've lived way too many places for your short life. How is that possible?!?! And two - my knowledge of music is pathetic. I have never heard of one of these albums or bands, NOT ONE! So that tells me that I may need to come over and you may need to play them for me to expand my music knowledge. Just saying.

    1. Come on over!!! I love music parties.

  2. I ALMOST went to Millar. In the fall of 2002, I was trying to pick a bible school and my parents went to Millar, where they met each other and married, etc.
    But instead I ended up choosing PRBI in Northern Alberta where I met and eventually roommated with Carmen.
    I also met and married my husband, so it worked out in the end. Carmen & Husband, I can't beat that.
    But if I had gone to Millar, I think we'd be friends :)

    1. Crazy! And your life would be soooo different...
      Or. Maybe you still would've met Carmen and your husband. I mean, I went to Millar and I still met Carmen?

    2. Haha! Now that is a very good point.

  3. I used to have so many songs on my ipod from music taste past, but unfortunately it was lost and many of those songs weren't on my laptop. There are a few left though, that when I hear fill me up with the sweetness of train rides in Switzerland. I treasure the moments where the music takes me by surprise and fills me with fond memories even though the nostalgia occasionally has a painful tinge.

    This post has inspired me to listen to some Jimmy Eat World!

    1. That's so sad! Losing music is the worst. At least with the Internet, you can still find songs that you've lost and listen for free I guess?

  4. aw I love this! funny how certain songs always bring you back to a specific time or place hey? x

    1. So crazy. I love love love it.

  5. Of course I'm reading this (a little late, but better late than never, right?) and looking at your playlist, I'm feeling schmaltzy too! There are so many many bands that I absolutely CANNOT listen to without thinking of you! Hellogoodbye is absolutely one of those bands!

    1. You're not that late. I just knew you'd be around sooner than later. What a loyal gal.
      Pleeeeeeasse come listen to Hellogoodbye with me.
      I like, where we are, when we drive, in your car.


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