Tag Archives: nostalgia

Hannah Hunt

I’ve been thinking a lot about writing a “Best Albums and Songs of 2014” list as a blog post, which I will invariably have to make because it would be a tragedy to you as the internet to not hear what a 24-year-old music snob considers the best few minutes of instruments and voices to be released this year, and also because this was actually a year in which two of my favorite musicians of all time put out highly-anticipated new albums that both gave me a lump in my throat upon listening. However, before talking about the good, I guess you have to talk about the other stuff, right?

I didn’t make a “Best Albums of 2013” blog post last year, but if I did, I’m sure Modern Vampires Of the City would be on it. MVOTC is an album that came out last year by a band called Vampire Weekend that has probably been the butt off too many “so-called” hipster jokes (but also one I personally never wrote about, so I guess not every hipster joke, right?). It was well-received in the indie music circles that obsess over 4-piece scruffy white dude bands and way-too-highly paid music critics who work for Rolling Stone and SPIN alike. It was a slightly different sound for Vampire Weekend and I know that there’s some technical term that escapes me for the way the audio engineer mixed the tracks, but suffice it to say that it sounded more “recorded” and “new age”. It still had bouncy melodies and tribal drums and nonsense lyrics that were fun to guess like Vampire Weekend’s older 2 albums and it ended up as a huge spring-to-summer playlist pick of 2013.

I guess it was a small bit personal, too.

I remember that you bought the album before I did, since you were always reliable at doing so. My memories are a little shaky, but I would almost go so far as to say that I think you preordered it on vinyl, as that was a habit that only solidified our chemistry, because we both valued tangible old-school technology and actually paying for music we loved. Living in Nashville at the time gave us this automatic veil of respect for the art of an album that we carried like a banner everywhere we went, and liner notes were our bibles. “Music City” is a nickname we hate but love in its simple perfection, because it fit our favorite thing to talk about. This unbridled passion for talented artists and very lifeblood of discussing new songs we heard on the local radio station that were about to blow up or how every band was trying to be the Lumineers in 2013 (which sucked) or how the Grammys were a joke yet somewhat important fueled our conversations at Tennessee coffeehouses and off-the-highway dive bars, which were, coincidentally, also full of other critics and songwriters drinking and discussing and karaoke-ing, too.

But, I digress.

Before I purchased Modern Vampires Of The City, a good friend of ours had told me that she’d nearly been moved to tears upon the first listen, which wasn’t an uncommon compliment in our musically-saavy community, but still stuck out in my mind. A few days later, you had listened to the whole album one night (with a glass of whiskey nearby and the candle I convinced you to buy at Target burning) and told me all about it over the phone in a tone of almost-reverence. It may not have been the most important album your well-tuned ears had heard, but you convinced me that I needed to listen to it because it was really something. 

And so, I did listen to it in your car the next day. We were driving around Interstate 440 with multiple people in the backseat- naturally, I was riding shotgun, as my neediness was in full swing- and Modern Vampires Of The City was playing as our background music, which isn’t terrible, but, as we both agreed, isn’t ideal for the first listen of an album when you’re trying to analyze it and see if it stands out. Oddly enough, you kept skipping Track 6 with little explanation, just mentioning that neither you nor I was  “ready” for it. About an hour or so later, we’d dropped off our caravan of riders and were alone the car. You looked at me with a seriousness that felt odd for a midday drive, and then you skipped to Track 6 with the dashboard controls.

“It’s time. You ready?”

(Sidenote: This was always something I admired about you: how you let things speak for themselves. I always feel the need to upsell my favorite things to people before letting them dive in, as if they require rationalization, but you were convinced great things held their own weight. I would have given a speech on why Track 6 would change your life, but you just pressed play with a confidence and the tiniest hint of a “you’ll-thank-me” smirk.)

It began. We listened to 3 minutes and 58 seconds of indie-music-somewhat-love-song bliss in full with the sun shining through the car windows, like we were scoring the soundtrack our own poorly-directed episode of Girls or a dollar-store imitation of Garden State. It was my first listen to this particular track but it sure-as-hell hit me. This was so different for this band we’d both loved- it sounded so personal. With the speakers up high and Ezra Koenig’s voice pleading with me about being afraid of growing older and trust and time and money, I felt very 23 and just a little emotional. Suddenly, at the 2:39 mark, the song just changed oh-so-slightly and that was it- I was hooked. I wanted this song in my back pocket at all times and I wanted to hear it again and I wanted to talk about it, but also not talk about it right away as to not ruin the magic or the moment.

You sighed pretty heavily as it faded out and simply said, “…and that’s Hannah Hurt” after the song finished playing, and we drove around some more without speaking for a few minutes, as if it was still all sinking in. I’m sure eventually we changed the conversation to Instagram or other records out that week or where we wanted to eat that night, but I remember that 3 minute and 58 second nothing-but-music moment as clear as day. Oddly enough, your original song title was actually incorrect. The song’s name is actually “Hannah Hunt” but your substitution of “Hurt” was an interesting quirk and a point that I’d try to write into every later story of us I told, but could never do successfully, as if it was supposed to be foreshadowing or mean something deeper.

It didn’t.

Regardless, “Hannah Hunt” (/Hurt) would stay with me heavily for several months, whether I wanted it to or not. It would be a song that I would turn to if I wanted to think about you when you were gone, a song that I’d play if I wanted to cheaply exploit my own emotions, and a song that I’d listen to on repeat on both good and bad days. Every time I heard it I went bittersweetly back to your car and that lazy afternoon and listening to something beautiful and sad that I loved all at the same time, with someone I loved at the same time who was a little sad and beautiful, too.

I heard it again last week and it wasn’t the same. I was driving home from work on a particularly windy Austin road and my shuffle-mode iPod decided to grace me with the same quiet beginning and light driving piano I know oh-so-well. I instantly remembered that day over a year ago in a different state and I remembered sitting shotgun in your car and I remembered seeing your face and your haircut I loved that you got after we’d met, but it wasn’t overpowering. It was simply a song that brought something back and though my heart still swelled in my chest at the 2:39 mark, I was okay after it ended. All the hard stuff about reliving the past and relationships ending and moving on and moving away wasn’t attached to it anymore. It was just track 6 on Modern Vampires Of The City, a track I liked, a track I could singalong to and talk about, and most of all, a track that told a story and let a memory exist again for 3 minutes and 58 seconds peacefully. You know, without hurting.

My eventual “Best Songs of 2014” List is full of singer-songwriters and high-rated indie releases that I’ll claim took the most out of me these 12 months and captured my attention and ears and heart, but I’m sure that tucked into the mixtape of songs that really stuck with me this year, “Hannah Hunt” will exist, as it has for over a year now.

And, maybe just as a personal gesture, I’ll go for a drive with it playing and think about sunshine on dashboards and breathe in every note, because I can, and because things are okay. Time changes your favorite things but also heals them.

Plus, when you really think about it, my car speakers are just as loud, there’s a lot of road ahead, and the album doesn’t stop after Track 6.

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Signs That You May Have Been in Show Choir At Some Point

You still get the strange urge to use jazz hands when making a point, or you just turn these jazz hands into a large gesture that in no way looks natural, but you try and play it off as such

You are critical of any work that claims to be musical and give your own running commentary of American Idol and The Voice auditions (bonus points if you have auditioned for any of those shows and still share your own ‘professional’ opinion on the experience)

You are aware that you are being a little too judgmental at the Karaoke Bar, but why would someone try to follow your Martina McBride, Josh Groban, Aretha Franklin, or Celine Dion with a weak Red Hot Chili Peppers performance? I mean, come ON.

You either-

  1. Want to strangle anyone who brings up Glee because it’s not realistic and also your choir department was way more talented and also WHY ALL THE ACAPELLA and no one looks that old in high school and no, Lea Michele, just stop with those expressions please.
  2. Want to hug anyone who brings up Glee because you have all the soundtracks and just know that life could be a musical, like, if we all just tried harder!!!!
  3. Say that Glee is lame or you have no opinion on it but secretly despise everyone on that show for getting more famous than you, because, did ANYONE in that tv show pull off 4 years of intense diaphragm exercises and singer’s posture and writing I.P.A. and memorizing minor scales? Didn’t think so.

You harmonize…with everything from commercial theme songs to the worst Miley Cyrus remix on the radio, without realizing it and to the chagrin of people who are also trying to sing along, making you look like a know-it-all or show-off

Your ear has been exposed to so many different kinds of music or languages and styles to sing in, that you find it hard to pin down just exactly what genres you like

There are far too many embarrassing photos and videos of you singing that exist, but you also know that it’s a rite of passage to wear a stupid bow tie or itchy unflattering dress in order to rise to the top of the vocal elite

You remember lyrics but forget what song they go to, or you spend an afternoon singing a melody into the Shazam app on your phone because you remember it, but not the words

You’ve ever considered/thought/muttered/bragged about the fact that you or someone you know might have ‘perfect pitch’

You primarily still count to 8

You have 5+ different remedies for sore throats or losing your voice, and they may involve everything from lemon juice to honey to whiskey to echinacea- bonus points for a hot toddy with all of them- to taking a ‘vocal rest’ or gargling with homemade salt water

You get annoyed when a crowd of people can’t clap correctly and on the beat. Who are these amateurs?

You have an uncommon knack for getting into tights, lipstick and false eyelashes in 3 minutes flat- and it’s a skill that you’ll keep with you and will come in handy more often than you think

No matter your gender, there’s probably still glitter on your body from some show outfit that you can’t get off

There is a chance that you may still describe things as needing to be “more legato” or “syncopated” or “dissonant” and that’s not strange at all

You get choked up during that song – you know the song- when you go see a musical, and there’s nothing you can do about it

You probably weren’t the most popular in high school, but that means you have time to grow into your quirks now and appreciate the way singing shaped you into the perfect weirdo you always needed to be

You still can’t pass a stage or see someone else in the spotlight without thinking, even if in the tiniest part of your soul, “What if that was me up there instead?”

Even if you can’t pinpoint why, you’ll always be sentimental for music and the community that it brings, and even if you never sing in any sort of choir setting again, hey, at least you’ll always make great playlists

Get Back Up.

You will have days when no matter how you try and style it and pin it back, your hair gets caught in your lipgloss and makes you perform some weird facial acrobatics to get it out and embarrasses you in public in the process. You’ll recover, and in a few weeks you’ll let the woman with the fantastic nail art at the Sephora counter talk you into to a lipstain that lasts all day, and when its constant color really does stay on, you’ll pass this knowledge on to your girlfriends like it’s no big thing, making you the wisest of all at the next Girls’ Night.

You will have days when you don’t want to answer your phone, even if it’s a text or a call from someone you love or an adorable Snapchat of a puppy, just because technology has made you think of instant connection as too impersonal, or you’re too caught up in your own head to answer or respond. It’ll pass, and you’ll respond to each hello and request with the gusto of the 7th grade girl with a pink Motorola Razr cell phone that you used to be, and with your faith in communication restored.

You will have days that are measured in cups of coffee and productivity pep talks, and no matter how much you focus and slam down both, you won’t get anything done. You won’t organize your room, you won’t answer those job emails, you won’t get that rattle in your car fixed, and you won’t even make a dent on your to-do list. You’ll be distracted by nostalgia, by negativity, or by simply beating yourself up over lack of progress. You will fight through these time-stealers and get back to accomplishing things like you were before.

You will have days where you say sorry to everything. Days where you apologize to your dog for not taking him on a walk because it’s raining, apologize to the person behind you in line at the cash register because it took you more than 5 seconds to find that quarter you needed in your purse, or send a Facebook message to an estranged friend from elementary school to apologize for that one thing you said to them on the playground in ’94 that you haven’t been able to shake for years. You will take a deep breath, reevaluate, and realize that although it is good to be forgiving, you are not responsible for every circumstance in life.

You will have days where you need to eat everything in sight. You will shove your shame aside in drivethrus, asking for 2 drinks even though you’re eating alone so that the person working the window thinks the amount of food is for more than 1 person. You will challenge yourself to your own taco-eating contest with the intention of beating your previous college-hangover record. You will get every mix-in possible at the ice cream parlor and you will tackle a whole pizza in one sitting. Whether you’re eating for feelings or for fun, you’ll slow down and look at what you’re consuming again. You’ll remember that balance is key, and even though cheese-on-everything is a personal manta of yours, throwing in something leafy and green is important, too.

You will have days when you can’t sleep because you’re:

  • worried that he hasn’t texted you yet
  • worried about when you’ll start getting wrinkles
  • worried that space and the universe is huge and we haven’t even scratched the surface of what is out there
  • nervous that you heard something go bump in the night
  • embarrassed that you’re still afraid of monsters in your twenties
  • still singing that annoying Luke Bryan or One Direction song you swore you’d never like but now that it’s stuck in your head, you are warming up to it
  • freaking out over what tomorrow’s schedule holds and if you can back out of all your commitments at the last second
  • caffeine-fueled for no good reason
  • scrolling through your phone endlessly and cursing everyone’s instagrams that look like they’re leading a fun-filled life, while you’re already in bed with your zit cream on and retainer in
  • too busy daydreaming about your fake pinterest house while stuck laying in a cheap goodwill or ikea bedframe
  • suddenly hungry but stuck with an empty fridge
  • unsure about your own talents
  • already fearing the alarm clock in the morning

You will find rest. It might take a few days, months, naps, or medication to get you back to sleeping right, but sleeping is so important, and if you’ll put some effort behind it, you’ll be a functional, healthy human again.

You will have days where it is hard to know where to start in expressing your feelings, hard to share the hurt that’s been done to you, and hard to feel like there is a new direction for you to travel. But, even if if is not today or not in this exact place, you will recover. You will be you again, and you will not let anyone else write the next chapter to your story but your own self.

It is not the days that defeat you, but what you do to defeat them and get back up.