In one of my first blog posts, I detailed the experience of discovering completely new feelings to associate with the new place I arrived to. England, while it is a place that has had a presence in my life for as long as I can remember, has brought me to experience feelings that are entirely foreign to me. When I wasn’t experiencing the feelings I associated with this place I loved for such a long time, I was put off at first, but quickly realized through countless experiences-now-turned-fond-memories that I would leave this country knowing I had made a home for myself outside of Philadelphia.
One such experience has been visiting the places where some of my favorite music was born. The soundtrack of my formative years, even now into my early adulthood, was born out of the various different music scenes in the North of England during the mid-20th century. Generally, when we refer to certain music as the “soundtrack of our lives,” we signal an intimate understanding of those sounds that have become inextricably tied to our own life experiences. The feelings we get from a certain song can be entirely different from the feelings a person next to us might get.
By going to Liverpool and Newcastle, I was half-expecting to feel the same emotions that I feel when listening to this music at home. At the same time, I was worried of what would happen to that music if it turned out that I had a much different experience than anticipated, much like my to arrival to England. I knew music was fragile to change; certain situations can make me associate certain music with that event, for better or for worse.
I learned when I finally arrived to these cities that I was right to suspect a change in the meaning of the music, but it was not at all as dramatic or tragic as I envisioned it being. Now, that music had new and exciting memories for me to associate them with, made even more consequential by the fact that I never imagined I would actually get to visit these places any time soon. I think that a lot of my worry came from the fact that I’d be staying in these cities alone; but in both places I quickly made friends whose lives were just as heavily impacted by the same music.
Being in the places where the music was made brought me closer, in a sense, to their creators–literally, on one occasion, as I met the lead singer of one of my favorite bands and a personal inspiration of mine. But, I also realized that the memories I’ve been attaching to these songs in my own life for so many years prior to these visits are what have made the music so important to me in the first place. The stories and origins behind the music are no less important (and it’s definitely exciting to tour the streets that gave birth to it!), but it was also comforting to discover that my relationship to music has already become special and intimately personal in its own right, regardless of whether or not I would have been able to visit these symbolic cities.