Through the Looking Glass: On Replay
By Jay Webster, The Dartmouth Senior Staff
Published on Friday, February 1, 2013
Editor’s Note: We welcome submissions from all members of the community — both past and present — who wish to write about defining experiences, moments or relationships during their time at Dartmouth. Please submit articles of 800-1,000 words to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m from Connecticut, so I was on one of the Trips sections that makes everyone go back home for a week to sit around and stare at a wall in nervous anticipation — alone, of course, because all of our friends had already started school a month earlier. I didn’t really know how to spend my time, but one of the first things I did (after showering because, like, gross) was create a new playlist on iTunes that I titled “Dartmouth.”
I added the songs that H-Croo played on the lawn and that we danced to at Moosilauke Ravine Lodge, most of which I’d never heard before: “TiK ToK” by Ke$ha, “Replay” by Iyaz, “Party in the U.S.A” by Miley Cyrus, “Yes” by LMFAO, “Gloria” by Laura Branigan. Those six songs are still the opening songs of that playlist, which I renamed “09F” when my freshman Fall finally began and I started hearing a lot of songs that I knew I wanted to remember.
I really wish I had done this in high school. I used to make temporary playlists that I burned onto CDs for my car, but I forget the specifics of when I started listening to certain artists and when I first heard certain songs. At Dartmouth, my 09F playlist grew quickly, and I vividly associate so many of these songs with a lot of moments that I would have otherwise forgotten. While being golden lined at Sig Ep, I heard Beyonce’s “Sweet Dreams,” and I remember thinking that I might one day rush there, even though I didn’t. “My Vietnam” by Pink will forever remind me of listening to one of my best friends sing in the Rockapellas at the Tabard. When my floormate “became a man” (if you understand my subtle wordplay), my friends and I blasted Bloodhound Gang’s “The Bad Touch” and threw some makeshift confetti in front of his door. The first guy I ever kissed played Guru Josh Project’s “Infinity” early on in the term when we were hanging out with a bunch of other awkward ’13s, and now it’s number eight on my playlist. In October, I was walking up Tuck Mall from the River on a really perfect fall day, listening to Matt & Kim’s “Daylight” on my iPhone and seeing all of the changing leaves frame Baker Tower at the end of the road. It was the first moment I realized that I was confident I had made the right decision in coming to this school.
By the time I got home for break in December, that playlist had reached 62 songs, which, according to my iTunes, is four hours of music. Toward the end of that long winter break, I listened to the whole thing, top to bottom, and I realized how excited I was to get back to Hanover. In my anticipation, I preemptively made a 10W playlist a few weeks before the new year, adding just one song that I had been listening to on repeat for days: “Telephone” by Lady Gaga, which, if you’re anything like me, you associate completely with the grim Winter of 2010.
Since then, I’ve made 14 playlists, all the way up through 13W. I’m not going to lie — every time I look at my 13W playlist, I kind of want to cry because even though I love identifying as a ’13, the year 2013 upsets me greatly and deeply in many ways. Maybe I’m just nostalgic, or need to focus more on the present, but now that so many terms have accumulated, I have a lot of options if I want to take a stroll down some sort of musical memory lane. Every time I do, I feel a sort anxious weight in my chest — that feeling when you remember a snapshot of a wonderful time that you can never really get back. Every playlist has its own distinct feeling, just like every term I’ve had here, and every song corresponds with its own distinct event or moment. The eclectic genres and styles neatly sum up the experiences I’ve had and the people I’ve met at Dartmouth. Listening to the organ in the final movement of Mahler’s epic Symphony No. 2 takes me back to an indescribable experience on the Spaulding stage when I played with the Dartmouth Symphony Orchestra during my freshman Spring. I listened to “Down by the Water” by The Decemberists after we wrapped up our first term of production at The Dartmouth at the end of last Winter, and I inexplicably started both crying and laughing on the Green with one of my friends. The music is all so different, but this variety embodies the experiences that have made my time here so meaningful.
Maybe this all sounds really elementary, but creating these playlists and documenting my time at Dartmouth in this simple way has helped me to imprint the memories that I will want to recall 10 or 15 years from now. In hindsight, I wasn’t able to appreciate this fully in 2009. I was recently talking with a friend, who has been doing the same thing, about how important music has been in documenting our time at Dartmouth. For us, it has been the best way to capture the spirit of our quickly fleeting time at this place. Maybe it is for you, too, or maybe it is and you just don’t know it yet.
At the very least, my 35-year-old self might, for some oddly specific reason, want to remember where and when I first heard the classic hit “Where Them Girls At” by David Guetta, Flo Rida and my girl Nicki Minaj. In case you’re wondering, it was Summer 2011, and I was driving down Wheelock Street to the docks with one of my best friends.
Jay Webster ’13 is the former executive editor of The Dartmouth who oversaw The Mirror. He has a lot of emotions.