Teen Thursday: Songs That Take You Back

Nothing makes you more nostalgic than music. And nothing brings you back to a transitive time in your life – such as high school – like That Song. There might be one. There might be several. But whether you're 16 or 60, That Song is an instant time machine. When you hear it, suddenly – you're back.

For example, Britney Spears's "Baby One More Time" will always make me think of the cringingly awkward Sadie Hawkins dance sophomore year, where my date was my crush. ABBA's "Dancing Queen" is turning seventeen and singing at the top of my lungs with my twin sister. "Sweet Child O' Mine" by Guns 'n Roses totally represents my first few months of college, savoring freedom with my new best friends. Boyz II Men's "I'll Make Love to You" played during my first ever slow dance in sixth grade. (I wish I was lying.)*

But the all-time most nostalgic song of my teenage years has got to be "1979" by The Smashing Pumpkins. Between ages 12 and 15, I was obsessed with The Smashing Pumpkins. Super crazy obsessed. These were the mid/late 90s days of America Online chat rooms, and I was a regular in The Smashing Pumpkins chat. At one point – oh God – I even had a newsletter. Called Children of the Pumpkin Patch.**

Aaaaanyway. At the time, I considered "Disarm" my favorite song, and Siamese Dream my favorite album. But the song that has always brought me back the most is "1979". I so wanted to be those teens in the music video: wreaking good clean havoc, making out in swimming pools, ditching the cute jerks who trashed the convenience store. To me, "1979" defines the excitement of being a teenager -- the same excitement that makes me write YA.

What songs define your teenage years?

*okay seriously, what was the DJ thinking??
**not to be confused with Children of the Corn.


Claire Dawn said...

I'll make Love to you in 6th grade.

Sheer brilliance!

TLC's Scrubs- because it changed our vocab :)

I remember modeling to Genie In a Bottle by Christina Aguilera at a school fair.

And I remember lipsyncing Always Be My Baby by Mariah Carey at a house 'lime'. It was the day my bff's lil bro was born too. little eerie now that i think about it.

Kate Hart said...

Remember that song "Return of the Mack"? I think it came out my junior year of high school. It was like the unofficial theme song of the summer program I attended that year. As opposed to choir camp in junior high, where the theme song one year was "Whoomp There It Is." *shudder*

Michael Northrop said...

Oh, yeah, absolutely! Siamese Dream was like a revelation to me—Disarm, in particular. I'd just started working (at The World Almanac!) and felt suddenly and unceremoniously thrust into the adult world. When Billy Corgan came on the alternative station in my '93 Geo Metro belting "I used to be a little boy!" it basically bulls-eyed my soul.

Before that, The Smiths ruled my high school (or at least our little group), and those songs always send me right back there. They had just the right amount of melodrama and self-pity for us misunderstood small-town boys (which is to say tons).

jenniferpickrell said...

I had two friends in high school that loved Smashing Pumpkins, so hearing them always takes me back.

Bon Jovi reminds me of elementary school roller-skating parties.

Kelly J. said...

Aside from the Backstreet Boys, Boys 2 Men....

The Presidents of the United States's "Peaches."
Pretty much nothing sums up awkward times as the lanky girl in 5th grade better than that little gem.

Amy Lukavics said...

Jewel's album PIECES OF YOU was the object of my obsession since fourth grade, and pretty much still is. It was the first CD that I ever owned and I played the hell out of it for years. It was the only album of hers that I liked through and through.

Oh, and who could forget Aqua's 'Barbie Girl' ??

Sara said...

Anything hair metal. I had a darling boyfriend who used to make me mix tapes with all of these big hair metal love song power ballads. Super-cheesy, but super-sweet!

Oh, and then there was Sting's "Nothing Like the Sun," which reminds me of two other boyfriends...

Hm. Why is it that all of my songs that take me back take me back to old romances?

Hannah Harrington said...

My best friend in high school converted me into a Nirvana fan (ten years after they were actually popular), so I associate all of their songs with my teenage years. Most notably the MTV unplugged album (my best friend had the performance of it on VHS, so we'd watch it at her house and cry and cry over Kurt Cobain's cover of "Where Did You Sleep Last Night" and lament his tragic demise).

At our high school we weren't allowed to listen to music, even during lunch, but I would wear black hoodies (almost every day), small earbuds covered by my long hair, and hide my discman in my hoodie pocket with the headphone cord tucked inside my hoodie so it was just about invisible. I remember walking through the halls listening to "Anarchy In The UK" by The Sex Pistols and "Closer" by NIN feeling like a real badass.

Sarah Darer Littman said...

Okay, I'm clearly WAY OLDER than everyone who has commented so far. *takes her Geritol tablet*. My boyfriend bought me tickets to see Roger Water's perform "The WALL" for my birthday, and when we went a few weeks ago and he played "Comfortably Numb" I found tears streaming down my cheeks because it brought me back to my high school depression and how I used to play that song over and over. Same when I saw Waters play in Boston in 2006 and he played "Shine on you Crazy Diamond." Almost as soon as the first notes played - waterworks. Like I'm a happy, well adjusted middle aged woman now and thanks to the miracles of modern pharmaceuticals I'm not depressed, but dang it - play a few notes of those songs I listened to obsessively when I was a seriously depressed (and unmedicated) teenager and BAM! It's like a PTSD reaction - I'm right back there.

For me, both music and scent are extremely powerful in terms of memory and emotion.

Micol Ostow said...

Anything Debbie Gibson or George Michael = high school dances.

Adeeva Afsheen said...

Banned complain !! Complaining only causes life and mind become more severe. Enjoy the rhythm of the problems faced. No matter ga life, not a problem not learn, so enjoy it :)

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