As Jeff and I approach our fourth wedding anniversary, I find myself thinking about the songs that have defined us throughout our relationship; a narrative soundtrack composed of over twelve years of lyrical memories or defining moments in our relationship. We may have been married for four years, but our story far exceeds the day we said, “I do.”
Track 1: Say Goodbye by The Dave Matthews Band
The first song on our soundtrack takes us back twelve years with this ballad by the Dave Matthews Band. To this day, the minute I hear Tim Reynolds’ guitar begin to sing, I’m swept away to the first few months of our then undefined relationship. We had been friends for a while, but something between us had changed. There was no going back to being friends.
Track 2: Seventeen by Tim McGraw
There was something about Tim McGraw’s music that always seemed to connect with us personally, but none did it better than “Seventeen”. As the song goes, “Seventeen only comes once in a lifetime. Don’t it just fly by wild and free?” At the time we were taking the SAT’s and applying to separate colleges. How were we to know where would end up? The only thing we had control over was the present, and we did so by “standing on the edge of everything” to make the most of what was left of high school.
Track 3: Magic Carpet Ride by Steppenwolf
For those of you who don’t know, Jeff had the most recognizable car in our high school parking lot. Out of a graduating class of more than 700 students, there was no mistaking Jeff’s bright orange 1968 Mustang Coupe no matter where you were. If appearances weren’t enough, the car was LOUD to put it plainly. The roar of it’s beastly engine could be heard from several blocks away. Jeff’s favorite song to cruise to in the ‘stang was “Magic Carpet Ride”; a vintage song for a vintage ride.
Track 3: Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd
Lynyrd Skynyrd has always held a special place in my heart when it comes to southern rock, but this song could be considered an anthem. Jeff and I are both southerners, and while Ray Charles’ “Georgia On My Mind” holds sentimental value, it just didn’t have the same effect as listening to “Sweet Home Alabama” with the windows rolled down in the Mustang. As they say, “You can take the girl our of the South, but you can’t take the South out of the girl.”
Track 4: Yours by Blues Traveler
This song isn’t attached to any particular memory for either us, but there is something about the melody that has always resonated within us. I can’t help but let this song wrap me in its comforting melody, curling up to cozy memories of us and days gone by.
Track 5: The Best I Ever Had by Vertical Horizon
The words to this song have nothing to do with us, but it was popular among our group of friends and it brings back high school memories that are a dime a dozen. Even though Vertical Horizon didn’t come on the scene until our senior year, their songs take me back to every Homecoming, Prom, Spring Break on the beach, and house party…the early days of my relationship with Jeff. I can still see us in my first car, driving to school, meeting between classes at our lockers, lunch in the cafeteria, football games, doing all those things I see our middle and high school students doing as if it’s the most important moment of their lives. I was there once too.
Track 6: Bombs Over Baghdad by Outkast
Track 7: In Da Club by 50 Cent
Track 8: Hey Ya! by Outkast
The reckless, wild days of college can be summed up with Outkast and 50 Cent. No matter where we were…house parties, frat parties, bars, or clubs…these three songs held a permanent slot on every playlist. Flip Cup, Beer Pong, and theme parties were always taken to the next level within the first few chords of “In Da Club”, and who didn’t want to “shake it like a Polaroid picture?” These songs had the power to wipe away all the stress of college and replace it with frivolous fun…not to mention copious amounts of alcohol.
Track 9: I Know by Pat McGee
For the greater part of our four years at college, three and a half hours of stretched out highway separated me from Jeff. We had made a commitment to visit each other once a month, but the weeks in between were endless and empty. “I know, you won’t be there tomorrow, baby. I know, I wasn’t there today. These times are harder than they used to be, but I’m fine if you’re still thinking of me.” In all honesty, this was the most difficult time of our relationship, even to this day. For us, being apart is unnatural and empty, but Pat McGee’s album Shine helped to fill that void until we could be together again.
Track 10: Wave on Wave by Pat Green
This song represents the carefree days of college. I had moved to Nashville to be with Jeff for our fourth and final year of undergrad, and life was good. It felt right being together, living together, going through the motions of real life…almost. I think of this period as independence with training wheels. We were beginning to make a life together, but we weren’t completely on our own. We had the financial support of our parents and the company of roommates, but we knew our time was coming.
Track 11: Wouldn’t It Be Nice by The Beach Boys
This song spoke to the yearning for independence we so desperately wanted at the time. Our relationship was rock solid, but the demands of school and expectations kept us only breaths apart from what we knew we were ready for…our own home, careers, financial independence, a life to call ours. “Wouldn’t it be nice if we were older, then we wouldn’t have to wait so long. Wouldn’t it be nice to live together in the kind of world where we belong.” Our thoughts exactly.
Track 12: Sugar Magnolia by The Grateful Dead
Freedom! Sugar Magnolia is a song that represents the moment we cut the apron strings. Together with our ’76 Volkswagen bus named Betty,we pulled away from our hometown and never looked back. At last we were free. Free to make our own choices, to go wherever the wind blew us, to be us completely. It’s to this song that we embarked on our 3 week road trip across the eastern seaboard from Atlanta to Nova Scotia and nearly everywhere in between. We changed during that time, and we saw the world in a different way. We had become us, and we had discovered exactly what that meant.
Track 13: Bubble Toes by Jack Johnson
Bubble Toes may be one of his most popular songs, but really anything Jack Johnson produces is a hit with us. We are drawn to his simple music with its easy going rhythm and carefree attitude. His voice doesn’t compete with the melody. Rather, they complement each other, and when one wishes to shine, the other steps aside to let it have it’s moment in the spotlight. This is who we are when you peel back the layers, singing our song in harmony while composing our own melody from time to time.