Many of us can link a certain album to pivotal moments in our lives. Whether it’s the first record you bought with your own money, the chord you first learnt to play on guitar, the song that soundtracked your first kiss, the album that got you those awkward and painful pubescent years or the one that set off light bulbs in your brain and inspired you to take a big leap of faith into the unknown – music is often the catalyst for change in our lives and can even help shape who we become.
In this Love Letter To A Record series, Music Feeds asks artists to reflect on their relationship with music and share with us stories about the effect music has had on their lives.
Matthew Carlson, A Will Away – Motion City Soundtrack, Commit This To Memory, (2005)
I remember the very first time I heard Commit This To Memory was in 2007 on an iPod while I was mowing my parents lawn and sneaking sips of beer from the fridge in the garage. It had been shared with me by a friend and the first time I listened to it all the way through, it hit me like a ton of bricks. At the time, my interest in alternative rock music was very much developing — having listened primarily to an odd blend of 80’s and 90’s pop hits and classic rock music throughout much of my childhood. It was right around this time that I realized somewhere deep inside of me that I was a songwriter, and I hold Commit This To Memory responsible for teaching me what that means.
Now naturally, music was a large part of my life growing up. I began playing a number of instruments in elementary school and have even been told that at an extremely young age I was already making up songs and singing them around the house (much to the dismay of my five siblings, I’m sure). But it wasn’t until I heard Justin Pierre cry “Hangman, it’s not your fault” that I felt so deeply connected to an individual songwriter.
At the time, the words and melodies contained in this record were speaking to my teenage angst. This constant ebb and flow of unfettered emotions that I felt inside were finally reflected somewhere tangible where I could go to visit them safely. What I didn’t realize at the time is that what Commit This To Memory does so effectively is speak to the overarching angst of the human experience as a whole.
You see, Commit This To Memory is the kind of record that grows with its listeners. Sonically, it’s undoubtedly a product of its time which certainly fills me with a certain degree of nostalgia; but that isn’t why I’ve found myself revisiting it whenever I need guidance in my life or why I have many of its words tattooed on my skin. Unlike most of the records I enjoyed in my adolescence, the older I get, the more poignant its message seems to grow. It speaks openly and candidly about what it means to be human. To be flawed and to have no choice but to accept it. To love and be loved, and to experience the profound and ugly array of emotions that we normally carry around silently. In many ways Commit This To Memory posits that the only purpose to telling a story at all is to remember; and as a songwriter it taught me that telling my own story in earnest is all it would ever take to connect with other people – even if they don’t understand exactly what I mean to say with every turn of phrase.
This is why Commit This To Memory will forever be my favourite record. Not because of what it is, but because of what it says. I’m endlessly grateful to this record and its authors for what I’m sure will continue to be a lifetime of lessons perfectly phrased.
A Will Away are a rock group hailing from Naugatuck, CT who’ve just released their new album ‘Stew’.
“’Stew’ is a celebration of what we love about rock music, in all of its varied forms,” the band explains.
“It’s a record that marks the culmination of every ounce of time, blood, sweat, and tears that we’ve poured into this band over the years and it’s the purest and most honest expression of ourselves that we’ve ever been able to achieve. It’s been an incredibly long journey getting here, and we’re very excited and proud to finally be able to share it with all of you.”
Take it for a spin below!