Sunday, April 06, 2008

i bet you look good on the dance floor*

one of the first things i want to know about someone is what kind of music they like. in the long run this doesn't "matter**" -- i'm not going to prejudge the quality of the friendship on whether the person prefers ryan adams or bryan adams.

however, it does serve two important purposes: if you have favorite bands in common it gives you an automatic conversation topic until you know the person well enough that you have better things to talk about, and if their taste in music differs, it's like you just got free reign on a record store. you remember when we were kids, and nickelodeon (i can't remember if it was a specific game show or just something they gave away for no good reason) would bestow upon some lucky kids the chance to run through toys r us for five minutes? and whatever toys they collected in their carts, they could keep?

meeting people with different music tastes is like that. not in the sense that it's like free music, but that they can say "hey, i think you'd really like this band." and maybe you'd have had no excuse to listen to this band before, or maybe it is an obscure band that you wouldn't have discovered without their help.

i will always have jeff robb to thank for introducing me to the decemberists. i will have the combination of alicia's discovery on myspace, jocelyn's ownership of the album, and pete's taking me to his show at mr smalls for my love of the DJ girl talk. a former coworker, blockbuster steve, introduced me to dashboard confessional. mxpx will always be connected to my high school crush, ian.

and nick i can thank for english rock.

allow me to sidetrack for a minute. you know how certain smells, sounds, places, etc. will indelibly connect themselves to a certain memory? then, everytime you hear or smell or see that thing, that memory will come back to you more forcibly than any time you sit and try to think about it independently? off the top of my head i can think of these examples:

-clinique "happy" perfume will always remind me of the holiday dance in 9th grade, which i attended with adam bishop.
-the song "i'm real" by j.lo, remixed with ja rule, will always remind me of driving to work at blockbuster in the summer of 2002.
-the song "bandages" by hot hot heat will always remind me of the period of time, in 2003-04, when i commuted to school (especially because there is a sound in that song which is identical to the sound a 2003 saturn ion makes when it is low on gas).
-the band "city and colour" reminds me of driving through kansas in june 2006.

and so on. typically, these kind of associations don't happen automatically. i didn't think "okay, from now on, every time i smell this perfume, i'm going to think back on my first boyfriend and how i borrowed a purple dress from my neighbor to wear to this dance, and that he brought me flowers and we had an awkward photo session in front of our tiny, fake christmas tree in my living room and that three months later adam broke up with me, probably because i told him i wouldn't have sex with him." it happened last summer when i was coming around the corner in the offices of marcus and shapira, and bernadette, dan shapira's secretary, had just sprayed that perfume and bam - i felt like i was 14 again. this was years later.

and thats how it usually goes. however, i've noticed that this process has sped up considerably since i've been in prague. already, certain sounds and smells are triggering memories that happened only, at most, three months ago. i stepped into the staff room at the bell school the other day and immediately felt uneasy and anxious, as if being there reminded me of something bad. i don't remember any particularly traumatic experiences taking place there, other than maybe being vastly underprepared for lessons. also, the other day i sprayed my perfume and felt nostalgic, although now i can't remember for what. i'm not sure i felt it for anything specific, but isn't that a bit weird? it was a memory of nothing, but i could pinpoint the time to sometime in the last few months. it doesn't make any sense, i know.

now back to music. i've met loads of new people here and i've been fortunate enough to be given/steal music from them. most notably, by the virtue of mixtapes and shared ipods, i've been introduced by nick to english rock bands (the verve, the libertines, babyshambles, pulp, etc.). this is not music i would have sought out on my own, but i love it.

this music will always be prague to me. and it's already reminding me of prague days gone by. i can't explain this accelerated nostalgia, but a few years from now, songs like "albion" and "supersonic" will remind me of december 2007; of watching movies, going to pubs, hanging out in riegrovy sady, drinking gambrinus, watching dogs cum on each others backs (okay that was february, but you get the point).

*arctic monkeys

**chuck klosterman wrote an interesting column on this for esquire. in fact, for almost any topic, chuck has probably written something profound and hilarious. here's that article: me, on shuffle

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