There are many songs that bring you back to a specific place and time. Patio Lanterns reminds me of warm summer nights spent in a small town outside my city with the smell of fresh cut grass fragrantly filling the air; anything by Backstreet Boys and O-Town and I’m instantly 13, again; and then there’s Bed Rock, a song my friend and I listened to on repeat throughout our entire trip to Europe together. They bring back memories; I’m transported to the specific places and can feel myself there, dancing in the club, standing in the street, getting ready to go buy our own ‘ecco whites’. The same goes for scents; a specific perfume will bring me back to my first trip to France where my roommate/friend and I spent every moment together, her perfume infusing my memories. The smell of diesel and cigarette smoke? Instantly in Paris.
Our travels are ingrained in our memories, and certain sights, sounds, and smells will take us back to that specific time, that specific location. Of course, there are always those songs that are about the city itself and you hope that they come on at the very right moment to make that memory the utmost amazing it can be in your mind. That moment came for me when I went out clubbing in Paris. Now, clubbing in Paris is a whole other post about mind-fucks and confusion with doors and getting into arguments with men in the bathrooms, but the excitement came when Ni**as in Paris came on in 21SoundBar and the entire place went crazy. The whole venue erupted into excited yelps and every word (or nearly) of the song was screamed at the top of every patrons lungs. That is a powerful memory. Every time that particular song comes on I’m transported back into the middle of the night, full of champagne and dreams and excitement, right there in that tiny, sweaty dance bar. It was one of the greatest experiences that only happens when everything lines up. Sure, this memory locked in my champagne-fueled brain isn’t one to base a book on, but it was enough to bring me back to that room, time after time.
More often than not, the smaller moments during trips are more energizing than seeing the big sights. Anyone can fly across the world and view the Eiffel Tower, but only those who are brave enough to figure out how to get into a seemingly closed bar will end up with tiny memories weaving together to bring you the true feeling of the place in question. It’s the little things that keep people going in life, like when the Pope comes out during your tour of the Vatican or when David and Victoria Beckham (maybe? Jury is still out on if it was really them) are just happening to be doing an interview in Milan while you’re walking by that exact venue. So many things have to add up for it to be a surprise, a coincidence, a pleasant and random encounter. Even more needs to add up to see someone you hadn’t seen since middle school in front of the Eiffel Towel. How cool is that? Now, obviously, clubs in Paris are going to be playing a song about their wonderful city, but to hear it while you’re there (and not stuck in the bathroom or out for a cigarette break) makes you feel pretty excited. Traveling isn’t just about seeing the sights and going to as many museums as the day will allow, but the moments when you soak up the culture and the tiny tidbits that locals will feel and know, that’s what makes traveling…well, traveling. It could be when someone stops you and mistakes you for a Parisian and not the tourist you are or asks for directions to the warehouse party in Maastricht – the one you’re totally coming from, like the cool kid that you are. Are any of these things a highlight of your trip? I really hope not; that would make for a pretty boring vacation, but they’re enhancements. They’re the feeling you keep long after you’ve come home, printed out those pictures, and gone to bed. They’re the moments you flash back to when you think about how fun that certain city was and start thinking about going back.
Make a playlist for every trip you take, and just simply name it whatever city you’re visiting. Even if nothing happens and you’re just listening while riding a train to your next destination, whenever you hear that particular song, you’ll be transported back in time. Bitch Better Have my Money and Dirt Road Anthem is the French country-side for me, coupled with the anger I felt on getting patchy wifi and the moment when I was mouthing the lyrics with my girl, Ri Ri, and a passenger looked at me like I was a psycho. Now, every time I hear that song, no matter where I am, I see that surprised and scowling look on that mans’ face and it brings a smile to mine.