The Soundtrack of My Life – Carefree College Years

It’s been too long since my last Soundtrack of My Life Post!

I previously posted about College Party Songs. I'm still on the subject of college and these songs remind me of those carefree years. Those years represent a unique sense of freedom – you are a young adult, but not yet saddled with older adult responsibilities. You learn much, love much, and live without thinking about the consequences (too much). Friendships forged during this time don't fade - those friends become members of your wedding party or perhaps even business partners. It's such an important time in a young adult's life. It's a time to travel by yourself, do thing without the aid of your parents, and to discover more about you.

Once I left home for college, I never went back. I spent my college summers away, in Cambridge or Minnesota. Like many of my peers, I spent my summers working a (relatively) high paying job/internship and found myself with more time and money and the desire to “live for the moment”. My friends and I didn’t mind driving all night and sleeping on the ground if the result was an amazing adventure. These song remind me of those carefree times spent with friends, discovering the world around me.

Father Figure by George Michael.

This song always brings me back to my senior year in college – I'm getting ready for Friday night's happy hour, wearing a denim miniskirt and a tank top. I put the Faith CD on and crank up the volume, drowning out any remnants of the week. Even now I always crank up the volume when this comes on the iPod. I love all the elements of this song - the syncopated bass line, gospel choir backed chorus, the obvious sensual lyrics and of course, George Michael's breathy vocals. It even ends with an exotic pentatonic riff - pure musical genius.

Take My Breath Away by Berlin. Who didn’t want to drop out of school, move to California and try to date a fighter pilot after this love song from the movie, Top Gun? Oh yeah, and wear a leather bomber jacket with jeans? The lush, full chorus, haunting lyrics remind me of the beach at sunset and the salty wind in my hair.



Only You by Yaz off their Upstairs At Eric's CD. In college, you (probably) experience love and subsequent heartbreak - This song reminds me of that experience. The song’s arpeggio backtrack renders it perfectly for an a capella arrangement and the simple lyrics are filled with longing.

Looking from a window above,
It’s like a story of love.
Can you hear me?
Came back only yesterday,
Moving farther away,
Want you near me
All I needed was the love you gave
All I needed for another day
And all I ever knew
Only you



The Finer Things by Steve Winwood – I loved the Back in the High Life album and his previous When You See a Chance single off Arc of a Diver. The memory - it was the summer of 1988, and I had tickets to see Steve Winwood perform in St. Paul, MN, where I was interning at the 3M Company. That summer brought a devastating drought to the area and the rainstorm that quenched it fell right before that concert. I remember standing around in the damp air, waiting, until the announcement that the performance would be postponed until the next day. We came back, and yes, it was a fabulous concert.

The lyrics exemplified everything we were going through at that stage of life
While there is time let's go out and feel everything
If you hold me I will let you into my dreams
For time is a river rolling into nowhere
We must live while we can and we'll drink our cup of laughter
That entire idyllic summer still brings a smile to my face – I had a good job, a great group of fellow intern friends and a great social life. I was dating a fellow MIT student whose family lived in St. Paul and owned a cabin on a nearby lake, where I spent every other weekend learning to water ski, without a care in the world.

I'm going to throw in a link to the When you See A Chance video, too. Not because it fits this category, but because it's a great song. That is all.

The Flame by Cheap Trick – Another song from that summer of 1988. What is it with summers and love anthems? Picture a smoky bar and dance floor – the group dancers clear out and only couples remain when the opening chords start. This is a slow song you actually sway and really MOVE to. And you aren't on the dance floor, lift up your lighter....


The Way it Is – Bruce Hornsby and the Range. This song brings me back to 1988's Spring break, with my friend, Sue, and I on our own adventure driving from San Fransisco down the Pacific Coast Highway to LA.
1988 San Fran Spring Break
For me, it's not the song's lyrics that bring me back, but artist's use of the piano and open chord progression - it's so Americana (think Aaron Copeland), his style is reminiscent of the American West and its open, wide land, begging to be explored. I've always been a fan of Bruce Hornsby's unique and recognizable style, and he is an amazing live performer (caught him in concert in 1991 at SPAC).



Take On Me by Ah-Ha.

This song makes all the "one-hit wonder" and "great video" lists of the 80's. What's not to like? Great synthesizer licks, up beat tempo, catchy pop sounds and a falsetto end. But it's the video that put this song on the charts - featuring a cartoon character who, against all odds, manages to break through the confines of his existing world and transforms himself into the real one. Isn't that the perfect metaphor for one's college experience?

I'll move into the Real World and the 90's in my next installment of The Soundtrack of My Life and hopefully it will get written before the middle of 2014!

Other Soundtrack of My Life Posts:
The Early Years
The Middle School Years,
High School Anthems
Love Songs
a Cappella Songs.
Classical, Jazz and Show Tunes

MaggieGem  – (January 31, 2014 at 11:30 AM)  

Great post... I love your soundtrack posts, always make me smile!

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