Written by: Linsey Warren
Music has this associative power. The power to invoke old memories and sentiments as well as guide our hearts towards new adventures. Memories can be pulled forth from hidden depths by a simple chord, or alternatively, a few well timed lyrics can lift our flagging spirits and weary feet, and carry us home. Personally, I have a lot of outdoor memories that are closely associated with music, and whether it’s the memory or the music, one naturally inspires the other in my recollections. They lead back to each other. They are intertwined.
When I think of learning to climb on hot days in Southern France, the rubber of my shoes burning into my skin, I think of the beat I used to try to sway my hips to while climbing and that’d be Zap Mama’s Iko Iko. Or after those blisteringly hot days, how we’d sit cross-legged on a warm flagstone patio in the hills for dinner and I’d hear a bit of Manu Chao’s King of the Bongo. Those are the sounds of a wild, free, and happy childhood.
It’s rare to come across those musical gems now. But every once in a while, I’ll hear a rendition of Hallelujah on the radio and it never fails to make me smile as I’m transported back to a trip where the entire team limped, bled and stumbled the way long miles back to the cars in utter dejection, only to find the first-person back was blaring Hallelujah by John Cale. It so perfectly captured the moment’s tragic ridiculousness that I burst out laughing. Years later, I found Mountain Top by Bedouin Soundclash and used it to drag my weary self out of bed weekend after weekend while chasing summits. Now when I hear it, I’m thrown back into a dark car on the way to a park and ride trying to sew my pants back together while wearing them – which happened with alarming frequency!
Other songs make me think of partners and their music tastes. My first ever alpine multi-pitch route, I was happily singing to myself when the rope lead leaned over and told me he only sings when he is nervous. Twenty minutes later and fifty feet above my head, I hear him singing to himself! Which left me wondering, if he is singing what am I going to find up there?! I heard *Airplane by * over ten times one weekend because it was the only music available on a no-reception car ride. Another partner used to listen to Enya to try and relax after long days. Sometimes he’d give me an earbud and we’d listen head to head to a few hauntingly, ethereal strands that somehow highlighted our often remote, isolation.
Regardless of how you use it, what you listen to and when, music, a little melody, has the power to inspire us, like magic, leading our creative and imaginative minds to new places where sometimes our bodies just happen to follow. And where our bodies struggle, it has the power to motivate us, whether through words or tempo, it can get us mentally and physically going. Add to all of that, it can capture the feelings and sentiments of a moment, wrap them up in a melody and make it a permanent fixture in our minds and hearts; intertwined indefinitely, one always evoking the other.
We all go through musical tastes, seasonal melodies, until we find more exciting or relatable songs. It’s growth and change devoid of any consequences which renders it simply fun and exciting. Growth through music. I’ve mentioned some songs that bring back memories, now here are a few songs, in no particular order, that either get me reflective or amped up and ready to go forth.
Listener be warned – it is an eclectic sampling!
Currently favorites from the play deck –
1. Something’s Missing – Sheppard
2. The Best is Yet to Come – Sheppard
3. On Top of the World – Imagine Dragons
4. I Lived – One Republic
5. Devil – Wandering Hearts
6. Live Like a Warrior – Matisyahu
7. Time to Run – Lord Huron
8. Home We’ll Go – Walk of the Earth
9. Renegades – X Ambassadors
10. Born to Run – American Authors
11. What We Live For – American Authors
12. Wake Me Up – Aloe Blacc
13. Higher – Joshua Radin
14. Work This Body – Walk The Moon
15. One Foot – Walk The Moon
16. Appalachian Mountain Girl – Alan Jackson
17. Free and Easy – Dierks Bentley
The throwbacks I mentioned –
1. King of the Bongo – Manu Chao
2. Iko Iko – Zap Mama
3. Hallelujuah – John Cale
4. Mountain Top – Bedouin Soundclash
What are some of your songs? What are the beats that inspire you? What memories do you associate with special tunes? Let’s grow this playlist!