One Song One Story

When you live with a song long enough, it becomes part of your memory-scape. In our BRAND NEW COLUMN One Song, One Story, our writers share a song, and the story it evokes in them.

Some Sense of Comfort: Nina Simone’s “My Baby Just Cares For Me”
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Some Sense of Comfort: Nina Simone’s “My Baby Just Cares For Me”

Sitting in my local coffee shop on the morning of the American election results, I was nervously sipping my cappuccino, trying to find some sense of comfort, when, in between the fey folk pop and Postmodern Jukebox lounge covers of Nirvana, I heard that familiar descending piano line, and the sweeping snare drum. Knowing what was to come, it made me smile. I exhaled.

The Water Is Warm But It’s Sending Me Shivers: MGMT’s “Kids”
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The Water Is Warm But It’s Sending Me Shivers: MGMT’s “Kids”

On the corner of Broome and Delancey is a terrible two-part dive where terrible “print is dead!”start-up yuppies come to play pool terribly. The bartender writes terrible ebooks by day and always has the Spotify Radio for The Black Keys turned on, for he believes curating playlists is a “terrible waste of time.” Tonight they’re playing that tired MGMT song that probably wasn’t too terrible to begin with but is ruined forever by Urban Outfitters and overplay at bars just like this one.

The Soldier That Dies: Rodriguez’s “I Wonder”
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The Soldier That Dies: Rodriguez’s “I Wonder”

Sixto Rodriguez was a folk artist, overlooked not only by Generation Big-Hair Rock’n’Roll but also by his peers, Bob Dylan fanatics. Listening to his words, rife with anti-establishment blues, awakens the anarchist in me, but more than that it rocks my understanding of how those Greenwich Village hipsters of the folk revolution didn’t pick up on him.

Loved You First When We Were Children: William Fitzsimmons’ “Just Not Each Other”
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Loved You First When We Were Children: William Fitzsimmons’ “Just Not Each Other”

In our youth, we are innocent. We love innocently. Growing up, I often catch myself seeking that same dewy-eyed love, that open and guileless warmth, firmly ingrained in my mind from childhood. Fitzsimmons’ “Not Just Each Other” gives me peace of mind, subconsciously acknowledging that the best is not behind me. I am bound for greater loves.

The Resolute Urgency of Tonight: The Smashing Pumpkins’ “Tonight, Tonight”
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The Resolute Urgency of Tonight: The Smashing Pumpkins’ “Tonight, Tonight”

There it was: a Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness reissue propped up proudly on a cabinet for display. I recognized it instantly as a storied weapon of affection–a kind of seemingly perfect fodder for wine-stained conversation with dates he brought back home. Not quite like discovering an Idiot’s Guide to Sartre, but quite similar in the way the record sat there, sim­ply taunting me, reminding me of this great, big difference between us that was soon going to be realized. “Not a fan, I take it?”

Yesterday, Today And Tomorrow All In The Same Room: Dylan’s “Tangled Up In Blue”
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Yesterday, Today And Tomorrow All In The Same Room: Dylan’s “Tangled Up In Blue”

The elasticity of time and the shifting perspectives — all within a single verse, sometimes — was something I’d never heard. What was going on here? It was a world away from “Rockaway Beach.” Standing at the precipice of past and future, this song was easily the most complicated thing I’d ever heard. Surely I could figure it out. Right?

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