“In order to understand the future, you’ve got to go back in time.” – “Back in Time” by Pitbull
Yes, there’s a Pitbull song on my Spotify “Starred” list. It was added on April 28, 2012.
Stop judging me. It’s a catchy tune and eight days earlier the music video for the “Men in Black III” theme song was released and I was looking forward seeing the movie when it was released on Memorial Day weekend.
Pretty simple. But then again, I also added Jimi Hendrix performing the Star Spangled Banner, so maybe I was going through a crisis.
It was finals week, so I shouldn’t be blamed for any decisions I made under duress.
By week’s end, one of my more memorable summers was getting underway.
“Sail” by AWOLNATION + “Too Close” by Alex Clare – added May 20, 2012
A little over a year ago, while on a family summer trip to Washington D.C., I read “The World’s Tallest Midget,” the anthology collection of sports writer Frank Deford.
There are some truly good stories in its binding, but one of my favorite moments came in Deford’s piece on Marquette basketball coach Al McGuire from 1976, 38 years before it rang true for me as I read it while sitting shotgun in my mom’s Chevy Tahoe.
One time in a nightclub, when the band played Unchained Melody, all the 40-year-olds in the place suddenly got up and packed the floor, cheek to cheek. Nostalgia ran rampant. Right away, Al said, “Summer song. This was a summer song when it came out. Always more memories with summer songs.”
Neither “Sail” or “Too Close” were summer songs or songs released in 2012. The former was released as a single in January 2011 and “Too Close” came along three months later.
When I hear them now, I’m reminded of the summer of 2012, when they were omnipresent: played in my car, bars and commercials.
That summer I had accepted an invitation to live with my friends Matt and Coltyn and the latter’s giant wall of water bottles which surrounded his mattress in our closet of a “room.”
Matt lived in one of three apartments, each segmented off in a large house located on the south end of Main Street. To get to ours, you had to climb a straight stairway to heaven on one side of the house or a corkscrewing deathtrap on the other.
That apartment, with its large wraparound couch, a “don’t show your mother” kitchen and a plasma TV on a dusty stand was my homebase for the summer. From the couch I applied for jobs at places like Barnes & Noble and Walgreens, slept in and mostly watched Netflix for about two weeks.
Then I got a job.
“Dreamweaver” by The Easy Riders, added June 6, 2012
The sun was setting on Jonesboro and my first solo day as a delivery man (boy?) for Pizza Hut.
I was driving my white Oldsmobile Bravada north on Caraway Road, having just finished my first delivery without the supervision of veteran delivery guy…Josh? Yeah, lets go with Josh.
On my way back I stopped at the intersection of Caraway and Highland Ave., where a Kmart and an abandoned Malco theater I never had the pleasure of visiting were the main landmarks.
As I sat waiting for the light to turn green, the radio began producing the sounds of “Dreamweaver.”
I have no idea if I took out any more deliveries, but that’s the only scene I remember from my first night as a delivery apparatus for Pizza Hut that summer.
A summer that would get very hot. So hot that I probably never used my car’s A/C comfortably. So hot that I once delivered an order to a Candlewood Suites hotel for a beautiful woman who wore nothing but a purple button up shirt.
I consider that the height of my pizza delivery career, so much that when I returned to the restaurant I had to share the experience with fellow delivery guy, Jonathan Mendell.
For most of that summer, conversations between Jonathan and I involved cleaning dishes, discussing where orders were going, what movies we had seen and randomly shouting names of actresses we found attractive.
And so on and so forth.
When I would get off work, it was back to Matt’s, where I stayed up late into the night in the coffin of a bedroom, propped up on a mattress. I spent a couple of weeks getting caught up on “Person of Interest,” the best network television show you’re probably not watching.
One of the most memorable aspects of the show is its music selection. Ranging from “Sinnerman” by Nina Simone to “Lonely Souls” by UNKLE and “The Truth” by Handsome Boy Modeling School. All of which I added at the end of May.
Remember when I mentioned the few moments of weakness I’ve had with my playlist?
One came on June 17, when I added seven songs from the “Not Another Teen Movie” soundtrack after watching it for the first time.
I only genuinely like three of them, but they all remain to teach future generations to not Spotify so soon after Netflixing without adult supervision.
The following week I made visit back home to Springdale. The only part of the trip I recall is seeing “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” with my friend Helmsley at the old Fiesta Square AMC theater in Fayetteville.
SAFFTEOTW is a vastly underrated movie that is particularly moving thanks to its soundtrack, which is represented on the playlist with “The Air I Breathe” by The Hollies and “Stay with Me Baby” by The Walker Brothers.
If you take anything away from this blog, let it be that you should see that movie. It’s so rare for Keira Knightley to appear in a movie that’s not a period piece.
Eight days and three songs later, I added Carrie Underwood’s “Last Name” on July 2.
That would be the last song I’d add to the list until July 23.
“Why Do We Fall?” – composed by Hanz Zimmer, added July 23, 2012
When James Holmes entered a dark theater in the Century 16 in Aurora, Colorado on the night of July 20, I was on mountain.
It was from my hotel room in Kodaikanal, India that I first saw a report on CNN about Holmes’ attack that killed 12 and injured 70 during a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises.
I was at the very end of a two-week trip to India for school with Matt, a girl named Monica Campbell, one other student who spent the entire trip high on drugs and two instructors, Carl Lundquist and Veena.
Kodaikanal represented the end of journey that began with a week of visiting the “Golden Triangle” of Agra, New Dehli and Jaipur. It was two weeks of incredible sights, searing heat, institutional poverty and an underwhelming experience at one of the “Seven Wonders of the World.”
I’m looking at you Taj Mahal.
The second week started with a plane trip south to Bangalore, a more westernized city where one felt safe walking two blocks to India’s version of McDonald’s for India’s version of chicken nuggets without being hassled for money from the homeless or someone trying to sell something.
Then, Matt and Carl made the decision to stay in Bangalore while me, Monica and the Veena made a very long van trip to Kodaikanal.
There were many things to adore about Kodaikanal. But for me, being a picky eater from the United States, I instantly fell in love with the something I had never seen before.
In Kodaikanal, a community 7,200 feet above sea level and more than 16 hours away from Jonesboro, there was an oasis in India’s vegetarian world:
This wasn’t just any Domino’s. This was a dine-in restaurant.
A dine-in restaurant in a mountain community where just a few miles down, people were living in villages that could have been mistaken for being in the Third World, if not for the sporadically seen satellite dishes on some rooftops.
This paradox of an environment is where I found out about the Aurora shootings. Within a day we were driving to back to Bangalore. There we got on a plane back to New Delhi, a flight that had more bumps than one would like, causing Matt and I to share one or two nervous glances.
But we made it and after one night in Dehli, were on a plane to Amsterdam, then to Atlanta and finally Memphis, where a bus waited to take us back to Jonesboro.
A day after we got back, Monica and I went out for lunch and to see TDKR, which I enjoyed. Later that night I would add the first of many tracks from Hans Zimmer’s score, “Why Do We Fall?”
It’s not on Spotify, but four days later Zimmer released a special track. Titled “Aurora,” all of the proceeds from its sale went to the families of the shooting victims.
Within the next two weeks, the summer would end and my last year of college would begin. Though I couldn’t wait to get through the last two semesters, now, I’d give anything to experience it all – the good, the bad and the mundane – one more time.
Next time: AC/DC, midterms and wanting to see the bright lights tonight