According to science, smell is the most powerful sense for evoking specific memories. If smell is the first, music is the second. That’s my (un)professional psychological opinion. As I look back over the past couple of months of adventures, I can’t help but fondly recall these tunes that have provided the soundtrack.
When I had just come back to Europe in August, I heard this song being played by a local band at a wine festival in Mainz, Germany. I thought that was kind of weird until I went to Oktoberfest, and I heard it everywhere. That’s when I realized that the John Denver hit is a popular drinking song in Germany. And though I can barely remember a lot of Oktoberfest, I can definitely remember signing along to it in a beer hall full of drunken people.
Even though I’ve never liked smoking, when I came to Prague, it was all around me. I started to get jealous of the sexy strangers hunched over their laptops with a cup of coffee and a cigarette dangling between their fingertips. So one night, my friend and I were getting ready to go to some art gallery event and this song came on. As I danced around listening to it, I finally gave in and smoked a cigarette for the first time in at least 5 or 6 years. It was gross.
I never go out, and when I do I’ve always preferred bars to clubs. But going out in Prague is so fun and effortless that I have a renewed appreciation for it. A few months ago, my friend invited me out dancing with her and her coworkers. The DJ played this song when I was feeling the perfect amount of drunk. Even when it’s been years since I’ve heard it, when this song comes on, it’s always my jam. And though Czech crowds are usually really laid back, based on their reaction, I think a lot of people here feel the same way about it.
This song will forever remind me of Thailand. When my friend and I went to the ladyboy show in Chiang Mai, one of the queens did a perfect rendition of it. As she strutted around in the audience, I stared slack-jawed, as though the real Rihanna had materialized in front of us. I’ve never been more impressed with a drag performer, and I’ve never loved that song more.
As unpleasant as it was to go out to a club in Sweden, one of the lovely musical memories of that night was the massive singalong that erupted in Fou Club when this song came on. Of course, the more pervasive (and unpleasant) memory of that night was Stevie Wonder’s “Happy Birthday” playing 12 times every time one of those douchebags got a new bottle. But I actively try to forget that.
This is my favorite song to listen to every time I go to Berlin (which has happened like 6 times this year). I know, it’s so literal. Aside from the fact that it bears the city’s name, I just think it feels like Berlin. That and the Broadway cast recording of Hedwig and the Angry Inch.
But my fall playlist would be incomplete without the music I hear all around me in Prague. People think I’m kidding when I say that it’s still 1996 here. But I’ve been keeping a list…
So basically, it’s a list of songs I’m embarrassed to admit I have on my iPod. Just kidding! I’m definitely not embarrassed.