Music is a strange thing.
It can either bring people together or send them into frenzied debates. Despite the many disagreements people may have over the best rock band or rapper of all time may be, one thing is constant: If you don’t enjoy music, people are going to think you’re strange.
I’m not going to sit here and tell you that a few four-minute songs shaped my life or motivated me to better myself in any way, but I can confidently say that the following four songs each represent extremely different time periods of my life.
Chances are, you know what I mean.
“Sunday Bloody Sunday” by U2 off of the album War was released nearly a decade before I was born, but I had become accustomed to rocking out to Bono, The Edge and the other two guys I could never remember (Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen, Jr) on the way to my Saturday morning soccer games.
I couldn’t really tell you why this one stuck as opposed to the endless 60s, 70s, and 80s music that my Dad used to play for me every time we got in the car, but it just did.
One reason could be the origin of the song, Bloody Sunday, which was a mass shooting that occurred in Northern Ireland at the hands of the British Army. I don’t know what was wrong with me when I was younger, but if you detailed any kind of bloody conflict, I was into it.
“Up, Up, and Away” by Kid Cudi off the album Man on the Moon: The End of Day was released in September of my senior year in high school.
That was around the time when I went from listening to genuinely good music to beat-fueled tracks accompanied by Kid Cudi’s drug-induced, sometimes-nonsensical lyrics.
While the lyrics of the song don’t exactly agree with my feelings at the time it was released, it marks a critical juncture in my life. You know when you go back home for a break from college and your friends wind up playing the same music they did before you left? Yeah, that’s what happens with this song.
The lyrics in the chorus make me wonder why I ever loved this song so much. “I’ll be up, up and away, up, up and away/Cuz they gon’ judge me anyway, so whatever,” don’t exactly apply to my life because I’ve never felt that people were judging what I do on a daily basis, but it’s catchy and (embarrassingly enough) I played it twice a day before I graduated.
“Big Mouth Strikes Again” by The Smiths off the album The Queen Is Dead is one of the more perplexing songs on this short list, but it’s hard to disagree that this is a fun, upbeat song to listen to.
Just to clarify, I don’t have a clue as to what Morrissey is singing about—seriously, I have no idea. There’s a lot of “big mouth, ladadada,” mumbling and slurring like there are in most songs by The Smiths, but that’s what gives the song its own identity.
This next statement is 100 percent true: I discovered The Smiths at the end of my freshman year in college. I don’t know how it took so long for me to finally realize that they were one of the best bands of the 80s. Some people are late bloomers, whatever.
My parents were just about incredulous when I came home for Thanksgiving break and asked if they were fans. “What do you mean, do I like The Smiths? Of course I like them, you fool, I was about your age when they were big.”
(Side note: Joan of Arc probably never had a hearing aid, but I’m just guessing.)
“Hurt” was originally written and performed by the lead singer of Nine Inch Nails (a song that I have never listened to to this day). It was covered by Johnny Cash in 2002, and wound up being one of the final songs he released before he died in September 2003.
The opening lyrics read, “I hurt myself today/To see if I still feel/I focus on the pain/The only thing that’s real” may not hit home for me as it does for others, but there are a few lines in this song that anyone can identify with.
“What have I become?/My sweetest friend/Everyone I know/Goes away in the end,” are words that everyone has thought to themselves to some extent. Whenever I feel like things aren’t going my way or I’m losing grip on my life, I think something to that extent.
Obviously, I don’t think those depressing words verbatim, but the lyrics remind me that countless others may not be feeling so great as well.
“Hurt” is much more laid back and calm than any of the other songs on this list, which signifies the point in my life where I become less of a rabid college student with no direction and more of an actual human being who is fit for the real world.