By Lily Doolin
Everyone has a different relationship with music. For some, it’s what they blast in the car when taking a road trip with friends. For others, it’s what reminds them of a family member, a friend, or a romantic partner. Sometimes, though, music means a whole lot more than that.
I fall into the latter category.
Music is what I go to when I’m at my highest of highs, and my lowest of lows. It might sound cheesy, but music really is my therapy. It’s what I use to celebrate the big moments in my life and to pull me out of the darkness of other moments. No matter what I’m feeling or going through, music has always been there for me—even when others haven’t.
I’ve come to have very intimate, personal relationships with a select number of songs, which have brought me through some of the worst times of all. Some of them are somber, and make me understand my feelings are valid—my emotions are only temporary, but important all the same. Some of the songs, though, are a bit more uplifting and motivating, reaching out a hand and pulling me up from whatever fall I’ve just taken.
So now, I’d like to say thank you to some of these songs: the songs that led me to where I am now.
“Misery” by Blink-182
I was born the same year as Enema of the State was released, so I wasn’t really all that aware of Blink’s music until much later on in life. When Blink released their album California, music from it started showing up on the radio stations I listened to and on generated playlists on my phone. The eerie beginning of Misery, with its good ol’ pop-punk vibe, immediately sucked me in.
Around the time I found this song, I struggled with friendships in high school—I felt virtually alone, despite the hallways jam-packed with people. I wasn’t sure who had my back, and who might turn on me at any moment. The only person I really had was myself, and “Misery” spoke to that. My mantra became my favorite lyric of the song— “I don’t need anyone.” It was true, too—I didn’t need anyone but myself to get me through it all.
Thank you, “Misery,” for making me feel a little less alone.
“Radio Ga Ga” by Queen
Before iPods were a thing and I could tune out the world around me, I listened to my Mom’s 80s CDs in the car. At that time, I didn’t appreciate it, so I sort of begrudgingly sat in the backseat, wishing my mom would just play Hannah Montana for once. Now, though, I couldn’t be more thankful for this compulsory 80s music listening, because it introduced me to one of my favorite bands of all-time: Queen. I only discovered “Radio Ga Ga” within the last year or so. Sure, I had heard it once or twice before, but only until recently did I forge such a strong connection with it.
This song perfectly describes my relationship: radio and music, in general, has always been there for me, no matter what. To loosely quote Bruce Springsteen, music taught me a whole lot more than I ever learned in school, and it ultimately kept me from acting on my lowest points in life. Before finding this song, I was losing my close relationship with music—it got lost in the chaos and stress of life. Since finding this song, though, I now remember why music became so important to me.
Thank you, “Radio Ga Ga,” for reconnecting me with my love of music.
“Famous Last Words” by My Chemical Romance
Alright, so my emo phase came a little bit late in life (and has yet to end so don’t judge me). One of my older friends introduced me to the entire discography of MCR early in freshman year of high school, and I instantly became hooked.
As someone who absolutely did not fit in with any sort of clique in high school, I got bullied and picked on (though not in any extreme way, it still hurt nonetheless). I found “Famous Last Words” on a night I was feeling particularly sad. It felt like the song came to me for a reason that night. The words of the song— “I am not afraid to keep on living, I am not afraid to walk this world alone”—made me feel powerful. No matter what happened the next day, or even the day after that, I was strong enough to face anything.
Thank you, “Famous Last Words,” for giving me the courage to continue on.
“My Shot” by The Cast of Hamilton
The Hamilton soundtrack waltzed into my life at what, again, felt like the perfect moment. At first, I didn’t really get what all the hype was about—rapping founding fathers? Sounds pretty odd. And it is odd, but it inspired me to get to doing what I love—creating. “My Shot” was especially instrumental in this. Listening to Lin Manuel Miranda rap a mile a minute about how his character was going to seize every moment of life was wildly inspiring.
Around the time of hearing this song, I was in a bit of a creative rut. I was stuck in a drought of inspiration—the sight of a blank computer document felt so daunting. The story characters that were usually running amok in my mind were totally silent. Yet, “My Shot” helped to awaken them. This song made me realize that I couldn’t just sit around anymore—time doesn't stop for anyone, and I needed to get motivated.
Thank you, “My Shot,” for teaching me how to write like I’m running out of time.
“Hard Times” by Paramore
It’s not often that I turn to an upbeat song for help when I’m feeling depressed (but maybe that’s just the emo kid in me talking again). But when I first heard “Hard Times,” I knew it would become a staple in my “cheer up, buttercup” playlist. This is really the only song of this list that I didn’t discover at some pivotal point in my life. I actually can’t even really remember when I first discovered this song, which is rare for music that holds such a special place in my heart. But I feel it’s important to me nonetheless because it never fails to cheer me up.
This song turns tough times on their head. Just like the song says, while I could wallow in sadness and get stuck in a rut, why not just laugh my way to rock bottom? There’s a bright side to everything if you’re willing to look for it.
Thank you, Hard Times, for always bringing light to the darkness.