The Undertow: Before 

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All American-Reject’s song “It Ends Tonight” is just one example of music transporting us back to our childhood. It can act as a time machine to send you to good times, bad times, or even times forgotten.  Photo via All American Rejects’ Instagram @therejects.

All American-Reject’s song “It Ends Tonight” is just one example of music transporting us back to our childhood. It can act as a time machine to send you to good times, bad times, or even times forgotten. Photo via All American Rejects’ Instagram @therejects.

You know that scene in the climax of Pixar’s “Ratatouille” where Ego, the esteemed and harsh food critic, flashes back to his mom’s childhood cooking from just one bite of the titular meal? As graduation and its associated maturity creeps closer to me, I’ve been having more and more of those moments with music. I’ll walk out of class, throw my headphones on and “It Ends Tonight” by All-American Rejects comes on. It’s not even a song I had saved on my magenta iPod Nano or that I even particularly liked, but sometimes it came on the radio and I couldn’t change it because we were a half-decade before Bluetooth capabilities.  

Regardless, “It Ends Tonight” is seared into my permanent memories of being a dumb 10-year old who had no idea what anything really was. I still might not, but I’m pretty sure I know more. I hope I do.  

All of this shoots through my mind, and I realize that the song is over and I’m on a slightly different part of campus without really realizing. I was transported.  

As this big, vague part of my life titled “childhood” fades and the scarier, vaguer part called “adulthood” comes closer, I have been forcing these out-of-present-time musical flashbacks on purpose. I’m doing it right now as I type this: I searched “2007” on Spotify and clicked the first playlist. It’s fittingly titled “2007 Hits.” I’ve had it on shuffle for about an hour now, and I’ve only typed under 300 words because every other song javelins my soul through time from Homer Babbidge to my childhood room watching pixelated lyrics videos on prehistoric YouTube. I don’t have any digital memories of that era, as I wasn’t cool enough to lie to my parents and get Facebook nor was I consistent enough to journal (I still can’t). Most of my memories of that time have to be unlocked through music. 

Sometimes the most vivid of those are ones I expected to forget hours after they took place. It must have been the summer of 2007, between third and fourth grade in my first-ring suburb of Philadelphia. My friend Basil and I were dancing around his basement to “Everytime We Touch,” the eurodance classic from German artist Cascada that, I assume, tore up nightclubs that season. But we weren’t grownups drinking grownup drinks at a grownup place, we were kids running around a basement. And it almost makes me tear up thinking about it. All of these feelings and memories from a song never designed for that purpose at all.  

I don’t remember anything else about that day, or anything specific about that summer. Sometimes other songs from that era bring back feelings or foggy memories, but for whatever reason “Everytime We Touch” is the only song that brings back that specific, razor-sharp memory of that day. I have no idea how it happened, but I’m grateful it did. I still talk to Basil, although nowhere close to as much as we did back then, because that’s what growing up is. I’ve been doing a whole lot of that recently.  

My point of all of this is if you’re graduating in May, or even anytime soon, search the year you were 10 on Spotify and play the first playlist that comes up. Just like vision, sound can act like a time machine for the tangled messes we call our brains. Before you know it, you won’t be here anymore. You’ll be there. 


Daniel Cohn is the associate managing editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at daniel.cohn@uconn.edu.

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