As I embark on medical school I wanted to share one of the albums that was the theme and constant background music for most of my undergrad. This music has a special place in my memories, and I am in awe of how strong the connections are. When I put on on of these tracks I am flooded with memories spanning 4 years. I won’t go in any particular order or even share all of the tracks, but I will include a link to the album with proper ordering here. I have also listed it under my “Music” tab on the side of my blog.
Sun & Moon
“Sun & Moon” perhaps one of Above & Beyond’s most loved tracks. The audience is hoarse after this song. We all sing for something lost whether is was love, time, or even a part of ourself we wish we could have back. I think the video for this is the group’s best. Some may find it awkward, but that is exactly the point! A normal looking man in a lonely bar is suddenly moved to dance. He can’t contain his emotions anymore and lets it out in a very personal form of expression. Lost in the moment, he is oblivious to the surrounding context as he grieves. This is what progressive music is about.
Thing Called Love
There are many somber tracks about loss on this album, but “Thing Called Love” reminds us that love is important despite the pain and risk inherent to it. The song’s culminates in Richard Bedford singing “You live you life just once so don’t forget about a thing called love”. I think that lyrics may describe Above & Beyond’s message more than anything. I wrote in an earlier post about how trance simultaneously makes you feel slightly isolated while reminding you that is why love and human interaction are so important.
While I don’t have any experience with the type of heartache in this song, the exquisite vocals by Zoe Johnston make me feel as though I do. The pain in the chorus is absolutely tangible and it is cathartic when the beat kicks in after her emotional vocal buildup. This is a song about loss with wonderful subtle hints of anger, acceptance, and embarrassment. Anger and acceptance? Aren’t those contradictory? Yes, they are, but who said emotions make sense? Its messy stuff. Like Sun & Moon, this song really engages a crowd and you can feel each and every person who has had such an experience. Its palpable and you feel for them.
Most of the memories are good, but some have distinctly somber memories attached to them. “Filmic” is one of those tracks. I remember forcing myself to go study for finals at Wells Library very late at night on a weekend. I bitterly walked into the library and shuddered at the fluorescent lighting. I promptly walked to the elevator and took it to my favorite haunt: the 8th floor. Nobody bothers you in the Slavic Literature and Folklore section. As I sat down in a carrel, exhausted and out of steam, I turned this song on. Captivated, my eyes glassed over as I stared through the wall for the entire duration of the song. My mind contrasted the transcendent beauty and simplicity of “Filmic” with the jumbled binder of organic chemistry notes surrounding me and the seemingly pointless treadmill of studying. My mind was flooded with thoughts of “What am I doing here?” and “Is the studying really worth it?” as the song seemed to be saying “Let go for a bit. Don’t hold on to the reigns so tightly. There are more important things”. 3 minutes and 49 seconds (the duration of the song) later I found myself back in the carrel and faced with the reality of text books and practice exams in a fluorescent lit cubicle. That is all there is to that story. There is nothing profound that I took away from that particular experience, but the point is that is is forever emblazoned in my memory nonetheless. While I did get over my studying slump and find renewed energy later in undergrad, that night was a long one.
“Prelude” reminds me of driving from Bloomington to the Indianapolis Airport to catch a flight to a medical school interview. Windows down, volume to the maximum, and coffee in hand I would listen to this track to to put me in a good place. I will forever associate it with the humid night smells of Indiana and the nervousness and exhilaration of travel and interviewing.
There are many more tracks on the entire album, but I don’t have the time to review them all here. I hope you will take a listen to the album and perhaps these songs can be the soundtrack to which some of your future memories will be set.