Music is ingrained in the fabric of my being. It’s my constant companion. Whether reading, writing, working, eating dinner, playing with the kids, romancing my wife, barbecuing in the backyard, or sitting on the john, it’s in the background, if not directly front and center.
Consequently, my memories are bound to music. When reflecting on a trip to Honduras while I was fifteen, one of the first things I think of is rocking out to Oleander’s “I Walk Alone” with a good buddy of mine. That song transports me back to our trailer on the beach, nuking ramen noodles between snorkeling sessions. Similarly, when I listen to Phish’s album Junta, I’m back in Dallas, Texas driving my '87 S10 Blazer home from class during my senior year of high school - windows down and shirtless to compensate for the broken A/C.
Music is not only connected to my memory, but also the seasons. I didn’t piece it together until recently, but my music consumption follows a seasonal pattern. In the spring, when the snow melts and everything comes back to life, I listen jam bands. Springtime connotes change and a fresh start, and jammy music's open ended, spontaneous, and uplifting qualities compliment this nicely. Cool, breezy afternoons are spent listening to Phish, Widespread Panic, Moe. and bands of a that ilk.
When spring fades into summer, I naturally spend more time outside in the sun. Sweltering afternoons by the pool, pounding beers with friends and family, require a mix of rock music. While warm, hazy evenings barbecuing on the patio have an alt country/Americana vibe. Pearl Jam, Ryan Adams, and My Morning Jacket appear in my playlist a lot this time of year.
Autumn’s brisk evenings, with freshly ignited furnaces and wood burning fireplaces tickling the olfactory senses, inspire reflection. Indie folk bands and singer songwriters receive a lot airplay during the fall. Bands like Iron & Wine, Bon Iver, and Nick Drake pair well with all the dinner parties that occur throughout the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons.
Once winter rolls around, especially mid-winter, and the intense cold and months of hibernation begins to take its toll on the body and the mind, I get restless and agitated. Fuzzy garage rock like Ty Segall, or any of Jack White’s projects, is the perfect remedy for winter-induced cabin fever. I also listen to a lot of Radiohead in those frosty months, likely due to the sense of alienation their music evokes.
The seasonal nature of my relationship with music, the backdrop to my experiences, forms a rhizomatic structure. A roadmap. Rob Gordon, the central character from every music nerd’s favorite movie, High Fidelity, touched on this concept when describing the autobiographical system he devised for organizing his record collection:
Likewise, if I want to find the song "Steady as We Go", by Dave Matthews Band, I remember that its on the album Stand Up, which I bought in the summer of 2005, but didn't like, and then rediscovered in the winter of 2009, while searching for wedding music. Suddenly, I'm back in the wedding hall with my wife, dancing our first dance.
There you have it. Music is a time machine.