On Wednesday, I was listening to the Heartbreak Hotel playlist on my Windows Media Player as I laid out some thoughts in Triumphs & Tribulations XIV. Typically, when I’m writing in my longtime journal, I’m so zoned out that I really don’t hear the lyrics in the music I play in the background, just the instruments. But Wednesday was one of those rare moments in which I heard lyrics, forcing me to stop writing what I was writing and just take it all in. The track that brought me to this moment was “Destiny”, a song by a British band named Zero 7. It’s one of the oldest songs in my Windows Media Player library…part of those first 82 tracks that I downloaded from LimeWire to my very first notebook computer—the Compaq Presario 1200. Until my taste in music broadened, it was one of the few tracks of its genre in my library and it had an “it factor” about it. That brings me to this week’s moment in the Flashback Friday series.
How I first came across this moment? I was first introduced to the track in August 2001. It was like 2AM on a Saturday morning and I had just got home from my shift as a Friday night closer at Domino’s Pizza. Everybody in the house was sleep and considering that I was still wired on the CinnaStix I ate from the cancelled orders that night, I was gonna be up for a while. So I kicked back on the couch to write in Triumphs & Tribulations I. And much like I do today, I always had tunes on while writing. Back in those days, though, I listened to Music Choice on cable TV. That particular night, I was listening to Pop Hits channel because as I was sifting through all of the MC channels, Christina Aguilera’s “Genie In A Bottle” was playing on that particular channel so I parked right there. Maybe 3 tracks after that was when the instrumental intro of “Destiny” caught me off guard. And before I knew it, I found myself spending the next 5 minutes or so listening. Having all the information about the track on the TV screen, I jotted it down in my Notepad text file of “Songs To Download”. When I finally got around to installing LimeWire a few months later, it was one of the first 82 tracks that I downloaded to my Windows Media Player. Along with the aforementioned Christina Aguilera track and M2M’s “Mirror Mirror”, it was the only track in the library that wasn’t rap or R&B at the time.
What it meant to me then? In the immediate moment of coming across the track, it only represented a sound different from what I listened to at the time. It really didn’t take flight with me until nearly a year later, deep in the Summer of 2002. It was in that summer that I created the Juan Thomas Presents… music playlists and CDs to enhance my Windows Media Player experience and to have bang out tunes in my old 1994 MAZDA Protégé (AKA The Deuce). “Destiny” was one of the first tracks on the Heartbreak Hotel playlist (and has been a staple since). The Summer of 2002 was also when I met my first love and got myself entangled in a whirlwind romance, which hit a fever pitch when I took my first trip to the Pacific Northwest for a college visit to the University of Oregon. It was during those 4 days away from her, that this track really hit me. When I listened to specific lyrics in the track like “Old moon fades into the new/Soon I know I’ll be back with you” or “And when I’m down/You breathe life/Over me/Even though we’re miles apart/We are each other’s destiny”, I thought about my then lead lady. The part that really hit me during that trip to Oregon was a piece of the 2nd verse: “On a clear day/I’ll fly home to you/I’m bending time/Getting back to you”. It rained the first 3 days I was in Eugene but on the 4th day, as I was flying back across the country to Birmingham, it was clear and sunny. I was trying to bend time by getting an earlier flight to Dallas or Atlanta just so I could get home to hug my girl. Funny how life imitates art.
What it means to me now? Today, it’s been nearly 13 years since I was first intro’d to the track and it’s still one of those “stop and listen to all of it” tracks. As I’ve grown older in life and experiences, the track takes on an entirely different meaning than it did in 2001 and 2002. Having been so deep in love once before and having lost it so violently, the track represents my hope to once again find love and hold on to it for a lifetime. When I listen to lyrics in the track like “The journey’s long/And it feels so bad/I’m thinking back/To the last day we had”, I can’t help but to think about the stark contrast between the Camelot feeling of that relationship in 2002 and 2003 versus the decade of heartbreak I’ve experienced afterwards. The music video, in particular, has had an effect on me through the years as well. The rotoscoped images of the woman venturing through different parts of New York City and seeing the public displays of affection between couples, friends, and families takes me back to the things I saw on a daily basis as I was out and about in Tokyo, Seoul, and pretty much all other major cities I’ve taken up residence. That scene of her sitting on the train just looking on: yep, that’s me right there on the JR or the Tokyo Metro. That restaurant scene at the end: that was pretty much me at the Holly’s Coffee location overlooking the Cheonggyecheon in Downtown Seoul.