10/26/2021
32-year-olds should not, under any circumstance, write essays titled "The soundtrack to my last heartbreak"

The problem with songs is how they tend to be firmly associated with memories, no matter whether they're good or bad. When it's the former, what a rush it brings when you're within earshot. When it's the latter, well, run. Or act like nothing's happening.

Nine years ago, I had precisely eight songs on my phone. Well, it was a feature phone - one of those sliding Nokia things that made you feel cool at the risk of breaking your device early - so it could only store as much music as your 64MB micro SD card can handle. (We didn't take a lot of photos back then, either.) Of course, I also wasn't able to stream radio stations from around the world, so, when I was lazy to pick up my iPod, I was stuck with those eight songs.

One of those songs is Fyfe Dangerfield's "She Needs Me". That song's... let me check... twelve years old this year. I was keen because Fyfe was the vocalist to one of my favorite bands back in college, back when I was discovering British indie and unfortunately felt cooler for it. (I have a distinct memory of listening to NU 107's rebroadcast of Selector Radio while waiting for biology lab class. Yes, our phones had FM radios in it.) And this song would tick all the boxes in my informal list of things I that my favorite songs have in common: a good hook, a sweeping feel, and the potential to overwhelm. The last two minutes of this song definitely overwhelmed, and if it catches you in the wrong moment, you could shed a tear or two. As far as I know, that didn't happen to me.

What I know happened, though, was that, in my head, as I played this song repeatedly on my sliding "dumb" phone, I dedicated this song to a girl I swore I was in love with. Anyone who's read this blog - or can bother to check the archives - would know that it ended terribly, as they inevitably did: it was a one-way thing, always a one-way thing, and yet I blamed her for being an asshole, for keeping me dangling when she didn't really have the time, or the patience, or the will, come to think of it.

I didn't stop listening to the song. I just played it less, and less, and less. Granted, your old favorite songs will give way to new ones as you go, especially if you decide to have another stab at looking cool by starting a music blog that's all but forgotten now. The few times that I do listen, I still get that rush from all the boxes being ticked. The last two minutes of the song can definitely be overwhelming. If I was playing the full version on the radio, I would shut up and let those last notes come in, until they fade, as they should be. And then, in the silence that follows, I think about that coffee shop at Rockwell, and me waiting for four hours, and getting to grips with being unwanted, and feeling stupid for wishing otherwise.

I played that song this morning.

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