A Decade Under the Influence (Of Pop-Punk)

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I started listening to a lot of pop-punk/emo again on Saturday and it’s funny, isn’t it, how emotive music can be? How strongly it can resurface feelings and memories you didn’t know were still there, good or bad, wanted or not. This, specifically, has me thinking about middle school, high school, how they were different and yet still the same in the end. (Major disappointments, if you couldn’t guess; the majority of my school experiences turned out that way for various reasons.)

I’m trying to listen to music again. I’m trying to let myself sink into the melodies and lyrics, the things I clung to through school, the things I used to pay so much attention to and learn religiously to the point that I could sing and read at the same time without pause. With Netflix now, I spend more of my time mindlessly bingeing on TV shows than much else, if I’m to be honest with myself. It’s not that that’s a bad thing necessarily, but there’s no doubt it’s contributing to how unhappy I’ve been. (And not just because I get so sad when shows end.)

I’m realizing lately just how much pop-punk shaped me. I like to think riot grrrl had a hand in creating who I am, and it did, but it wasn’t the beginning; I would have never gotten to it without pop-punk first. I would have never gotten to it without falling head over heels for Green Day, and I still adore all the old bands I listened to then and I’m discovering others now that are quickly becoming new favorites.

The funniest part, to me, is that so much of pop-punk is male-dominated (like most music genres), and I actively try to listen to so many more women artists now, but it’s not something I can just throw away. It’s had a huge hand in who I’ve become and eight years of school and the last ten or so years of my life. It’s an unavoidable detail of something I’m not willing to compromise on, not when it makes me feel so deeply now, years later when I don’t even talk to the people I associate with these songs, these lyrics, these chord progressions that make me laugh or cry or both within seconds. My taste in music may have evolved exponentially since then, but inside that thirteen-year-old girl screwing around on a skateboard outside her best friend’s house still exists and always will.

It’s like music is making me feel things in a way I haven’t in a long time, and I’m still trying to figure out what to do with that. I think it’s meant to inspire me; I think it’s meant to get (and keep) me going again.

Things music has reminded me of lately: Old friendships • crushes • school nights spent staying up until two a.m. simply trying to make it through until the morning • school days spent trying to stay awake, stay positive, and make it back home to where I was most comfortable • scribbling song lyrics in class notebooks and on paper bag book covers • belting out lyrics with the house to myself • my heart breaking and mending and breaking, again and again and again • lying in bed, headphones on, drowning in songs and teenage sorrow • wandering around town past dark with girl friends • my first cup of tea.

January 26, 2015
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  • Kay

    I am constantly awed at just how powerful music can be. There are certain songs that I truly can’t listen to without crying. And it isn’t just the lyrics, it’s the true music itself. It’s like my body can’t process it any other way than a flood of emotion.
    This past weekend I spent some time with friends and we put on a 90s station on Pandora….I can’t believe how many lyrics I still remember from songs I haven’t heard since I was 11 or so!

    • Sonya

      I know exactly what you mean! I have that reaction to some odd songs, though. Like there are times when I’ll be listening to Taylor Swift in the car and start crying when I’m singing along, and I could not for the life of me explain why. Music is such an impressive, emotional art.

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