Many of us have loved and lost, even if we didn’t know what love was at the time and most of those memories come with a soundtrack. Whether it was a song playing in the car during a night drive or a movie soundtrack tune you both liked, most of our matters of the heart have a track listing.
I’ve mulled on this for some time; the fact that many of my once-favourite bands and/or albums have been forever sullied by the remnants of a past love gone wrong. Try as I might, there are some albums I will never hear the same way again because so many memories are now associated with each song. The entire album has become a time capsule of that state of mind and the resonance is too thick to simply hear the music at face value.
In a way it’s a beautiful thing, that an entire relationship can be summed up in a twelve track CD and every song seems to reflect the moments perfectly. In another way it’s infuriating because that album was unbiased and amazing before some rapscallion came along and started messing with the soundtrack of my life. I’ve often listened to said albums even though they bring up a torrent of feelings, solely because I did’t want to blame the music for an error of the heart.
Regardless, over time most of those albums faded from my playlists while others majestically rose above to maintain a place in my heart and ears today. With that, I give you my top 3 bands who have been forever dismantled by a bad love and my top 3 bands who have overcome and held strong.
1) The White Stripes: Specifically their first 3 albums; The White Stripes from 1999, De Stijl from 2000 and White Blood Cells from 2001. This band will forever be synonymous with an on-and-off again 3 year relationship that was 2 years too long. Even though I’ve seen the White Stripes perform five times and have every album on CD and on vinyl, their early work is something I will probably never listen to again.
2) The Yeah Yeah Yeahs: Show Your Bones from 2006 and the Is Is EP from 2007. These albums I can still listen to, but it took a few years and they will forever be heavily saturated with the memories of my fist long-distance relationship. All other albums from this band have remained unfazed but alas Show Your Bones and Is Is are now a shell of their former selves.
3) Tied: Jane’s Addiction and Blind Melon: All albums. I discovered these bands in greater depth with the help of the nefarious character who was the object of my affection at the time. After our spilt, both bands could not be separated from the person who brought them to me and as a result, I never listen to them anymore. Reminds me of a line from the Wedding Singer movie when Robbie tells his ex-girlfriend, “Please get out of my Van Halen t-shirt before you jinx the band and they break up.”
Tried and True
In contrast to those artists and albums who could not withstand the changing tides, here are 3 bands have have proven to be kings among men. Even if the apocalypse where to fall upon us while I was spinning any of these records, I imagine I would still listen to them post-apocalypse and smile warmly. Without further ado, the champions who shattered their time capsule and continue to rock forever.
1) Nirvana: All albums. Nirvana’s entire discography is the ultimate soundtrack of my angsty youth but it is also heavily rooted in the memories of my first love. It’s true there were periods where I went without the Seattle rock gods after our split, but time heals all wounds and soon enough, I was back to the boys with no hard feelings. Granted it’s been over fifteen years since that first love, but still, I can happily listen to any Nirvana album with no thoughts of the boy who went bad.
2) The Mars Volta: Specifically, their first album, Deloused in the Comatorium from 2003. This one took a while to revisit with an objective ear but over time, the boys of the Mars Volta won me back with their wordy math-rock jams. Eventually I was able to enjoy this album without thinking of the person who first introduced me to the band.
3) Pink Floyd: Specifically Wish You Were Here from 1979. One of the biggest factors in Pink Floyd passing the Lonely Hearts Club test of time is the fact that I first got into Floyd from my Dad. I used to play his records while lying on the living room floor and when we later bought the CDs for the house, my Dad and I would often rock out together while making dinner or doing dishes. So when my longest relationship ended with a guy who was as into Pink Floyd as I was, the band remained unscathed. Even though that guy drove me crazy, my association with the band and my father was stronger than my association with the band and my ex. I’m grateful for that because a world without Pink Floyd is a world I don’t want to live in.
Some may say this is all mind over matter, and those people may be right. But there is no doubt a subconscious web of connections our mind makes between major life events and the pop culture around us at that moment. Some bands are forever tainted and some rose out of the ashes like the mighty phoenix to spin on our eternal disc drives. Either way, we all have a soundtrack to our lives and these were some of the albums on mine!
I had fun writing this piece and I hope you enjoyed it as well. I’d love to hear your albums that were forever ruined or made it through the wire in the comment section below!