We all have that one thing that takes us back to our childhood. For some, it is a familiar smell. "Oh, WOW, the smell of grilled cheese takes me back to being with my dad." For others, it may be a familiar place. "Being back in Florida takes me back to being a kid!" While the smell of grilled cheese does bring me back to dinners with my family, and going back to Florida reminds me of visiting my grandparents as a child, nothing has the same emotional hold on me as music.
My earliest interaction with music began when I was about 7 years old, driving to the pool one summer. A Beach Boys cassette (yes, a cassette!) sat in our car stereo, and my mom would always sing along to what the player spat out. There was an association created here between the great music of the Beach Boys, linked with the beautiful weather and happy memories of the Chicago summer. Thus, when I hear the Beach Boys now, I still think of these things.
At the time, however, I could not comprehend this. I did not think about the associations music made on my life, but I certainly lived with the consequences. When I was a little older, I heard my first Beatles song from my mother and my aunt. We were downtown at my aunt's birthday party, and "Birthday" by the Beatles started playing on the speakers. Immediately, everyone's appearance rose. People started sharing memories of when they had heard this song in the past, where they were when it was first written, where this song has taken them in life...and I was there. An 8 year old kid, having never heard the Beatles, not understanding how a song (essentially 4 minutes of noise) could impact someone so much.
This indifference held on to me until I was about 12 years old. Until this point, I did not collect music that would get me through feelings or bring back old memories; I simply collected pirated music files on my computer because I thought that was just what people did. This comes from having an older brother with a huge music collection. I remember one day going up to my mom and asking, "How can he know so much music? Why can't I know that much music?" Obviously a random question my mother was not prepared to answer, she responds, "I can bet you one day, you will." Downloading music became a competition to own a library that could rival my brother's. Owning mp3s was not a crutch, or something I did to express my emotions, but simply something to pass the time.
Despite this, I believe my interest in music ultimately stemmed from my brother. He was very interested in inviting me into this world. He is the one who showed me how to download a song, how to sync an iPod, and how to find song lyrics. One day, he helped me find the lyrics to "Whenever, Wherever" by Shakira on Google. After realizing I could not sing like Shakira (but you can bet I tried), he quickly closed the browser and changed the song.
When Santa brought him an 4GB iPod nano one Christmas, we would spend hours together just going through his massive library and forming playlists that could fit such a small device. I still remember the earliest songs that I would ask him to play. I was not used to this feeling of desiring a particular song; it was no longer about playing a song just to have filler noise in the background, but I wanted these songs to be played: "Crazy Train" by Ozzy Osbourne, "Disturbia" by Rihanna, "My Humps" by the Black Eyed Peas... and "Technologic" by Daft Punk.
That last one was requested so often that my brother would start off our music-picking sessions by saying, "OK, anything but Daft Punk." At the time, "Technologic" was the newest hit from Daft Punk's third studio album "Human After All." It is kind of a creepy song. For those of you who have not had the pleasure of hearing it, the song consists of 4 minutes and 44 seconds of a robot rambling in two-word phrases, all ending in "it," about all the things you can do with technology. "Buy it, use it, break it, fix it, ..." the list goes on. This song had a haunting effect on me that I had never experienced before. My brother found it hilarious; think, an 8 year old boy, running around chanting "charge it, point it, zoom it, press it, ..." like a robot without knowing how half the words translate to uses of technology. From overexposure, he began hating this song. Eventually, my brother said to me, "If you love the sound so much, why don't YOU go to YOUR room and search up more music by them YOURSELF?" So I did.
The day I eventually entered "Daft Punk" into Wikipedia was the day that, well, everything changed for me. That is so dramatic, and I am already angry with myself for writing it, but it is true. It was the first time that music truly came out of the screen, out of the headphones, and into my brain. I could not stop listening to Daft Punk. No matter where I went, I was listening to Daft Punk, talking about how much I loved Daft Punk, and if I couldn't talk about much I loved Daft Punk, I would be thinking about how much I wanted to talk about how much I loved Daft Punk. I think of the day I discovered Daft Punk as year 0 ADP (After Daft Punk). That is how substantial it truly was in my life.
That was not a very descriptive paragraph. Why did Daft Punk have this hold on me? What was it specifically about their music? More importantly, if they are so great, why doesn't Daft Punk have this control over other everyone?
Music is so weird. We spent centuries trying to "improve" it through new artists, albums, singles, when every song is everything to someone. I could tell you about the complexity of Daft Punk's songs: how "Revolution 909"'s incredible layering impacted my musical taste, how "Something About Us" has helped me fall in love with someone and "Emotion" has helped me fall out of love with someone, how "The Prime Time of Your Life" traumatized me and made me grow up, how "Veridus Quo" has helped me through countless brainstorms, how "Around the World" has initiated so many good times between me and my friends, how their live performances (just the videos of them) gave me chills, how "Phoenix" made me want to start producing music on my own, how "Aerodynamic" made me learn how to play the guitar and fall in love with playing instruments... and it would still mean nothing to you, because music is personal.
After finding Daft Punk, I learned how to truly appreciate music (or should I say musique?) and use it to help me, not just allow it to accompany me, through life. Music is a huge crutch for me. It is so dramatic, but music is there for me when friends and family cannot be. Daft Punk was not the only group to influence me like this, but they were the first. I learned about how music brings people together. I learned about how music brings you back to different times; "One More Time" brings me back to celebrating my cousin's wedding in Mexico, under the stars. "Around the World" reminds me of my high school homecoming. "Derezzed" reminds me of seeing TRON: Legacy (the best movie score of all time, by the way) in theaters on Christmas with my family. "Da Funk" reminds me of driving to see my brother in Minneapolis. "Get Lucky" reminds me of my senior year of high school: the anticipation, the excitement, the nervousness, the feeling of change and growing up! Their music has been there for me my entire life.
Daft Punk showed me that, without even knowing it, my mom had always been planting these memories, in the car, on the cassette player, on the way to the pool. Hearing "Help Me Rhonda" takes me back to the summer, the happiness, and childhood! I didn't even have to try, but music is what allows our memories to live forever with us. Thanks for that, Mom!
I love Daft Punk, as should you, but you might not. That's fine! I am told all the time I would love the Arctic Monkeys, because their music is so "emotional, raw, and powerful." People tell me I'm crazy for not being in love with the Arctic Monkeys. All I can say is that I hope that the Arctic Monkeys mean to you what Daft Punk means to me. Actually, I hope that Daft Punk means to you what Daft Punk means to me, because then we can talk about it. But if not, all that is important to me is that you have allowed music to, in one way or another, influence your life, because I promise you, it is a great feeling.
So, with that said, Daft Punk did, in fact, change my life. Who changed yours?