Tuesday, July 21, 2009

"Study" Abroad

There's this lady I know that has a blog about travel. It's in its beginning stages, but is interesting and a good way for her to express, digest and discuss this quasi obsession of hers. I was thinking tonight about various great experiences I've had while traveling and also about certain memory triggers. Does your life unfold to a soundtrack?

A defining moment in my life on multiple levels was my four months studying abroad in Italy in 2005. It was an unbelievable experience and an immersion that was completely foreign to me in my life to that point. That semester brought with it powerful memories of food, cities, landscapes, trains, language, cultural events, wine, history and architecture, and great friends. Now, along with the collection of photos and storytelling, I have strong association of certain music to this events to trigger memories. A classmate and friend of mine, Mike Baskett, let me copy some albums from his laptop while we were studying in Castiglion Fiorentino and introduced me to Dntel and The Wrens (no, not the old R&B group).

As I'm sure most college students across the US at the time were, we had this little obsession with The Postal Service a few years prior and when I heard that James Scott Tamborello has earlier been involved in the solo project, Dntel, I was intrigued. As is common, Dntel strikes me as the experimental and more abstract origin of the Postal Service pop approachability. This was perfect for providing a spacey epic backdrop that kind of stutters and pops as it stumbles out of the headphones. I hear this and imagine myself sitting alone at Villa D'Este sketching, or taking a moment to soak it all in at the top of the mountain over Lake Como.

Dntel - Anywhere Anyone

The Wrens appealed to me in a much more simple and irrational way. Living in New Jersey and with very little mainstream success, this group had just the right amount of obscurity and pep to keep me interested. I don't really remember falling in love with their 2002 album, The Meadowlands, but I do know that I played it over and over again. I even have a very distinct memory of listening to a song while walking up the hill in Castiglion to the bus stop some random morning. This is striking to me because I have a poor memory in general and retain very little unless it has an emotional or strong visual impact on me. I can't really explain that bust stop memory at all.

The Wrens - This Boy Is Exhausted

Thanks to Mike B!
_Michael T


  1. You're exactly right. My memories are so tied to certain songs. I only need to hear a few seconds of one and I'm immediately taken back to that place & time. Lisa Ekdahl was definitely one of my favorites while in France. Her songs make me think of dinner parties at friends' apartments and picnics in the parc de la pepiniere... such good memories.

  2. It's like how John Denver always takes you right to Denver, CO. Cool!