BY EMMA WESTCOTT//
When I was a junior in high school, I had to take a “Death and Dying” class. It was literally about exactly what you’d assume it’s about. We learned about the death rituals of different religions (Catholic school vibe), the stages of grief, and we watched a bunch of movies where a man character dies to see how the surrounding characters reacted. But, our project to end the semester, after all of the mourning and loss, was to make a virtual scrapbook of our lives. Not sure how my baby pictures connect with the Wiccan death rituals, but those are two things that were shown on the whiteboard to the entire class. Maybe it was so we reflected on our own lives after watching fictional characters lose theirs (sounds a bit morbid to me, but whatever).
Since this scrapbook project was virtual, we had to set it to music. Knowing me, you can assume I had a field day picking out which song I was going to use, which song was going to perfectly capture my essence as a 17-year-old. I ended up choosing “Chances” by Five For Fighting and it still haunts me to this day, because why did I pick that?? Anyway, I’ve compiled some songs that I would pick if I was given this project today, now that I’m 20 and much wiser than I was then.
The first option is “This Charming Man” by The Smiths. I know, I know, it’s male manipulator music. However, I can guarantee you none of the people in my class would know it (which just tells you the culture of my high school), so it would be a nice upbeat, yet not too optimistic choice to back my slideshow of toddler photos and pictures of my dog. The next track is “Your Body is a Weapon” by The Wombats. This song picks you up out of the (mysteriously) sticky desk in the (non-air conditioned) high school and puts you the backseat of your best friend’s car, which is a moment I’d want to include in my scrapbook, for sure. (Plus, I used it as a backing song for a montage video I made as a sophomore, so it’s got sentimental value.) Following that, we have “Unbelievers” by Vampire Weekend, which will grace the speakers whilst smiling photos of me with no teeth slide across the Expo-stained board. I think they’d frame my life in a much more golden light than it is (I think I’m more of a true canary color). Car Seat Headrest takes over from there with “Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales”. If I had chosen this one, I’d have framed each picture in a little polaroid filter to make me seem more vintage-appreciative than I was back then. Spacey Jane is up next on my docket with “Booster Seat”. This one puts you in the middle of a long flat road through a wheat field right as the sun is sitting along the rolling hill line in the distance; you can’t quite see the fireflies yet, but you know they’re there. I’d have loved to have filled that classroom of 17-year-olds with fireflies for 8 minutes.
It’s important to highlight that David Bowie is always an option. “God Knows I’m Good” would paint me a bit beiger, but not a boring beige. It’s the kind of warm brown you feel in your sinuses when you look through old photo albums in your grandparents’ attic. Something a bit more climactic is “Love Lost” by The Temper Trap. If I really wanted them to think I’m fun and adventurous, I’d pop this in the background with the photos of me looking as spontaneous as possible (of course they’re posed to look that way but it’s the thought that counts). Next we have Bon Iver’s “Lump Sum”, which I think really illustrates a sense of nostalgia, even for people watching a presentation of intimate memories of someone they barely know outside of the cinderblock walls of a high school. It’s shared, universal. The next one would be my pick if I wanted to bring down the excitement a bit and soften up some hearts: “Eleanor” by Woodlock. I know that if I filled the presentation with a bunch of pictures of my friends and I, they would cry if this song played.
Closing out the list of contenders, we have probably the most basic memory montage song out there, which is “Tongue Tied” by Grouplove. This is such a predictable pick (which is exactly why I didn’t use it for the actual project at the time). That being said, it’s obvious for reason. It makes any set of memories look that much more fun and thrilling. Anyone can hear the beginning muted guitar strums and know that someone is about the romanticize their life as best they can, and they usually pull it off.
The last option is probably what I would pick if I was given the project today (but tomorrow, who knows). “Dylan Thomas” by Better Oblivion Community Center feels like the opening scene of a mid 2000’s high school movie. You know, the slow, sweeping camera pans of picture frames and the average family living room. It’s the time the directors subtly introduce the exposition while being so painfully obvious about it. Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Oberst would transform my little Prezi into a comfort movie that people watch when they’re sad.
- This Charming Man by The Smiths
- Your Body is a Weapon by The Wombats
- Unbelievers by Vampire Weekend
- Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales by Car Seat Headrest
- Booster Seat by Spacey Jane
- God Knows I’m Good by David Bowie
- Love Lost by The Temper Trap
- Lump Sum by Bon Iver
- Eleanor by Woodlock
- Tongue Tied by Grouplove
- Dylan Thomas by Better Oblivion Community Center