Warning: this is going to get sentimental.
For this, my last Scene, I gave myself the prompt of constructing a playlist that captured the sensations of four years here at Wooster. Ultimately, I limited myself to three tracks that encapsulated that paradox of songs that can be happy or sad depending on the approach. Of course, in the end, none of the songs were released during my time here, but then that’s how this generation works. We run on borrowed nostalgia from an unremembered time.
1) “Age of Consent” by New Order — When I was a sophomore, I befriended a group of seniors who adopted this mournful 1983 classic as their anthem. When I finally paid attention to the lyrics instead of the iconic bass line or immaculate synth, I realized how much of a breakup song it was. But when they would put it on, it was treated like scripture. I remember when a bunch of them visited last year and they put the song on at a house party. One by one, they rushed to the center of the dance floor until everyone else was crowded out, and it was only them, screaming every line as it threw them back through time. The association I developed with the song made it all the more eerie when Reptar covered it at Party on the Green in 2012. Including “Age of Consent” is kind of biting on their style, but then, that’s what we usually do with our older friends, and when they leave us, we find things that remind us of them.
2) “This Must Be the Place (Naïve Melody)” by Talking Heads — At some point, I found myself surrounded by people who adore Talking Heads. First semester of senior year was spent imitating David Byrne at parties while “Burning Down the House” or “Psycho Killer” played. But for some reason, the band’s most genuine and pure love song is the one that makes me yearn for times that haven’t even gone past. It’s a series of non sequiturs, but the emotional resonance in them allows the listener to project on them until lines like “Out of all those kinds of people/You got a face with a view” means everything to them. I’ve developed a personal connection with the song, and it conjures images as diverse quiet walks across campus late at night to bright, loud days spent in the company of friends. Byrne sings about wanting to go home before eventually realizing he might already be there. I’m starting to think of this campus like that.
3) “All My Friends” by LCD Soundsystem — Of course it comes to this song. Anyone who knows me knows of my obsession with it. It’s my favorite song in the world, mostly because it perfectly captures the themes I’m fascinated by. It celebrates that paradox of happy while sad, and is a mess of binaries. It’s about living a life without regret and then coming to regret those decisions later in life. It works for the peak of a party but also when I’m walking back and I’m thinking about all that I said and did that night. It manages the impossible task of being escapist while also nostalgic and its closing refrain of “If I could see all my friends tonight” makes me ache for a world where such a possibility exists.
Honorable Mentions: “The House That Heaven Built” by Japandroids; “A More Perfect Union” by Titus Andronicus; “Countdown” by Beyoncé.