For those of you who’ve known me a long time, one of biggest obsessions has been, and perhaps always will be, music. At five, I remember waking up early one Sunday morning, putting my headphones on, and belting out the entirety of Shania Twain’s record, “Come on Over.” At eight, my dad made me walkman tapes that consisted exclusively of Britney Spears, the Backstreet Boys, and Celine Dion.
As I got older, I began listening to more alternative and rock music. I remember my mom’s marked concern when one of my favorite songs at 11 was “Welcome to My Life” by Simple Plan. To be fair, “You don’t know what it’s like to be hurt, to feel lost, to be left out in the dark…” are concerning words to hear your adolescent child sing. By sixth grade, I was obsessed with Green Day and started guitar lessons.
After that began my journey into emo music, such as Fall Out Boy and, more importantly, My Chemical Romance. My dad reluctantly took me to see them when I was 13, and curiously asked me why they wore make up. As a teenager, My Chemical Romance opened a door for me into a world of cathartic and strangely comforting noises.
Late in high school, I began listening to Bright Eyes. Conor Oberst, the band’s lead singer, is someone I consider to be one of the best lyricists of our time, and his songs inspired me to write impulsive poetry. In college, my taste ventured into older alternative bands. The Smiths became the soundtrack of my freshman year, and they still frequent many of my playlists.
While working at a summer camp in Maine, I bought The 1975’s first album. Since I didn’t have access to a computer or a CD player there, it wasn’t until I was on a plane to London in September that I really gave the album a listen. After coming back to America, my friend, Holly, called the 1975, “Alex’s car music” because of the CD’s permanent place in my new Avalon’s stereo. The 1975’s second album, “I like it when you sleep for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it,” came out about a year ago, and I drove from downtown Charleston to Monster Music in West Ashley just to purchase the CD the day it was released. I remember driving on Route 6 to “A Change of Heart.” “You used to have a face straight out of a magazine, now you just look like anyone… I just had a change of heart.” This song had so deeply, already, lodged itself in my heart as an earnest song about falling out of love, and becoming disillusioned with the glamor once found in youth. “I like it when you sleep…” is my number one album, and the 1975 is my number one band.
The ways in which music is important to me are innumerable. Paradoxically, music lets me isolate myself without feeling completely alone. It quells my motion sickness (literally and figuratively). It engages me and challenges me. As a writer, about as many of my artistic influences are musical as they are literary.
Right now, my playlist consists of so called “garage jams” on Spotify, early 80s alternative like New Order and Depeche Mode, and bands and artists that confound the idea of genre so much that I can’t really think of what to label them. There are exciting artists both on and off the radio, who are headlining festivals or still opening for favorite acts. I’m excited that I’ve created a little platform on which I can talk about my own journey with music.