Nothing can make you more nostalgic for a specific time in your life than listening to music. The lyrics that *get you*, every note, and the song as a whole can transport you back to a moment so engrained in your memory that it almost feels as if you suddenly have Hermione’s Time Turner and you’re living the moment all over again. This month’s playlist brings us back to the years between 2000 and 2004 (our prime high school years) when we lived off of our discmans, made mix CDs and had to figure out how to download MP3s on our computers using dial-up.
Enjoy the entire playlist on Spotify here!
Your Body is a Wonderland by John Mayer
I honestly could’ve picked any one of JM’s songs from Room for Squares album for this playlist and it still would accurately be the soundtrack to my high school life. I remember listening to this record non stop, particularly this song – and of course, I would pretend he was singing it to me. Remember this is pre-pretentious John Mayer, so it was okay. I lived and died by all his albums, and even played Wheel off Heavier Things for one of my religion classes (we went to a Catholic high school, I guess one of the things we had to do was bring in a “prayer song”? IDK all I recall is that I tried to be all deep with Wheel and some kid brought in the full, like, 7 minute version of The Doors’ Light My Fire). Also: Heavier Things, tho.
Must Get Out by Maroon 5
Like I said, Molly and I went to a Catholic high school, where we had to take religion classes. Senior year included a very borderline class called Peer Ministry. In previous years, we had classes focused on the Old Testament and the New Testament, but our senior year, we had a new teacher who decided that “Peer Ministry” was going to consist of watching movies like Holes and reading Tuesdays with Morrie. Anyways, as part of the class, everyone had to go on a weekend retreat to some camp out in the woods of New York. You signed up for different weekends, and obviously my friends and I decided to sign up the same weekend. One of the activities at the retreat was making some kind of craft to reflect what you’re feeling about your future (I think?) Basically, I wrote the lyrics of Must Get Out on a balloon – ‘This city’s made us crazy and we must get out’ – symbolizing my desire to get out of Rochester and on to a new adventure in Boston. Songs About Jane was one of those CDs, in addition to Room for Squares, that was on a constant rotation in my car’s CD player, and this song just spoke to me, you know?
Dare You to Move by Switchfoot
If you described a typical teenager in the early 2000s, that would have been me. I was not unique, different, or special in any way. I tried so hard to be cool – but the cool by Teen People and MTV standards. I was a total teenybopper, obsessed over everything popular in pop culture, desired everything out of the DeLiA*s catalog. That being said, A Walk to Remember was one of my favorite movies. I didn’t shun it at all, in fact I welcomed it. So much so that I got the soundtrack for my 16th birthday, and proceeded to play it on repeat. I listened to a lot of Switchfoot and Mandy Moore on my morning drives to school.
Float On – Modest Mouse
Float On was released in February of 2004, so nearing the end of our senior year. I remember using the lyrics of this song in my AIM profile, pretending to be all deep and thoughtful, as it was exactly how I felt about ending one chapter and moving on to another. It continued to be a mainstay in my summer playlist – and by playlist I mean the Summer ’04 mix cd I made for myself and listened to on my way to my summer job at the local amusement park.
Closing Time – Semisonic
Remember how this was like the cliche song everyone used in their AOL profiles, AIM profiles, yearbook quotes, etc.? This and that Dave Matthews Band lyric, “Life is sweet but short for certain”? Yeah, I totally gave into that. Because I was really into my friends and super into technology, I created a slideshow from pictures of me and my friends from senior year and used this song as the soundtrack. That’s right – I was the master of Windows Media Player. Still can’t figure out why I wasn’t friends with the “popular kids”.
No Such Thing by John Mayer
Our senior year was dominated by John Mayer, Dream Man (hey, it was 2004 and we were essentially babies). I heard this the other day, and it was a bit surreal to hear John Mayer sing about his ten-year reunion now that I’m there. It’s not exactly a super-deep song, but I do relate to it in ways I couldn’t have at 15.
New Slang by The Shins
From here, my list turns into a tour of sensitive indie rock of the early 2000s. My musical tastes were very Seth Cohen-y, to use a 2004-vintage reference. This was before that time in 2005-2006 when “Garden State soundtrack” became a shorthand for a type of music, but – well, obviously that’s what we’re looking at here.
History lesson: the internet was smaller then, and finding a band that wasn’t played on top-40 radio felt like a real discovery. With no iTunes, if you wanted a record you either had to download illegally (mea culpa!) or scour a real-life music store. If you wonder why hipsters are so insufferable about liking things before they were cool, it’s probably because back in the day they really had to earn it. There was no tumblr to tell teens what they were supposed to like, there was TRL and Teen People and you had to dig to find things outside of that.
Hey Girl by Dashboard Confessional
A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar was like the album if you were into – am I dating myself or really, really dating myself if I say alternative music? Or just into Chris Carrabba, on whom I had an even bigger teen girl crush than John Mayer.
Technicolor Girls by Death Cab For Cutie
This is the most “high school feelings” type song I can think of, so much so that even a decade later this takes me back to seeing friends in the parking lot by the football field. Like No Such Thing, this is a perspective on high school that I could understand but not really relate to until I was a decade removed: “we never turn out the way we thought we would.”
Soco Amaretto Lime by Brand New
When I heard this as a kid it was like “hell yes! Eighteen forever!” but now that I’m older and realize that the guys in the band were in their mid-20s when this was released, I hear a bit more wistfulness. But while I sometimes miss being 18, this also makes me think “oh, thank Christ I am not 18 forever. That was exhausting.”