Music and memories.
Music has the incredible power to ‘take us back,’ to remind of us places and faces long gone. A simple song can release a flood of emotions, good or bad. Sometimes we listen to music to remember and sometimes we listen to music to forget. Something in music though jolts us. We’re reminded of smells, what that particular experience felt like, colors, movements, you name it.
Perhaps you’re stuck in traffic, flipping through stations on the radio- and you flip to it. Bam! Instant memories. Maybe even something or someone you haven’t thought of in ages. I can hardly listen to “Free Bird” for example, without thinking of the summer I road tripped to San Francisco with Ari and Stephanie. The three of us, not even legal, barreling down I-5 in Ari’s blue Ford Focus towards the Sunshine Coast. Ari got bored with “Free Bird” before the epic guitar solo and switched songs, Stephanie just about lost her shit. But more than all of that, “Free Bird” reminds me of a golden age of my youth, before some of the hard stuff hit.
So I don’t really know what triggered in my mind yesterday when I thought about Kristen Marlo’s music. Regardless, I googled her and found that she recently released a full length album. I bought it and spent the better part of the day between work and eating cous cous reminding myself of why I loved her music.
Unless you’re from Spokane, you’ve probably never heard of Kristen Marlo. Neither had I.
In December 2007, I was just finishing up my freshman year of college at Gonzaga University. The first few months of college were nothing short of magical. New friends, new stories, a new class schedule, and a kind of unbridled freedom I had not yet experienced. Compared to the stifling and cyclical nature of high school, college was a release. I was 18 taking on the world, one shot at a time. My last night of that first semester before heading home for break was certainly no exception.
Ari and I met up with Boone and his childhood friend Levi at The Caterina, a hip, homey kind of winery that I unfortunately have yet to go back to. I think Levi, who’s a musician himself, knew Kristen from growing up. We grabbed chairs and settled in. It was the first time I’d ever been to a small scale performance by a relatively unknown artist. I was captivated by the whole aura of the experience. The informality with how she tuned her guitar or addressed the crowd, it was like we were all friends. I think it might have even been her birthday. I remember a golden tinted, kind of dimness to the room, white lights twinkling. The cool people of Spokane drinking wine and beers on tap. I remember falling in love with lyrics of hers like, “I’m finding in myself the best is kept within.”
And I remember what it was like when we left. The cold hitting our faces as we left the warmth of the winery. The night was still young, but campus was dead. There was literally no one left. Someone suggested we crash a Mormon dance at a local LDS church. Why not?
My first and only Mormon dance was a riot. I had hardly had as much fun at other dances, and this was supposed to be a ‘cleaned up’ affair. I even found myself a Mormon admirer, who was sorely disappointed when he found that I wasn’t Mormon.
The rest of the night, as you can imagine kind of passes by in a blur now. Memories of Ari having to drive Boone’s early 90’s former police car back to his parent’s house in Deer Park because he was slightly inebriated and trying to pee out the back window. I remember laughing. I remember listening to the LP of Kristen Marlo that Ari had bought earlier that night. Stumbling into Boone’s house and trudging up the stairs. The three of sharing a bed and watching The O.C., a tradition we would later replicate on the last night of college 4 years later.
To this day, I can’t listen to Kristen Marlo without thinking of that night and those people. A golden time. Ari, who was beginning to be the best friend I’ve ever had, the road trip back to the west side that next day being the first of many we’d take during college, literally and figuratively. Boone, before he got a grown up car and went to law school. Boone with his longboard, who refused to wear pants, no matter how cold it got.
My friends. Young and free and careless and unabashed.
And me. Young and free and careless and unabashed.