I have five different versions of the song "Leaving On A Jet Plane". Isn't that strange? My favourite cover is by John Denver, but the one that shows up on my "Most Played" list is Chantal Kreviazuk's. These songs are like those little samples of perfume you would dig up out of your mother's make-up case when you were five, gingerly unscrewing the top and letting the scent waft gently into your nose, sending you back into her arms. Not too much, mind you, or it'll somehow be lost, never to be found again, but just enough.
Listening to John Denver, I am immediately 12 again, clutching my big clunky blue Discman in my lap, seat-belted down carefully with my family falling asleep around me. The blue of the sky has has enveloped us and we still have about 15 hours before landing. I used to time songs so they would fit the moment, and "Leaving On A Jet Plane" seemed fitting enough for that particular experience, so I decided to play it about seventeen times during the flight.
"You're The Ocean" by Teitur is a more recent perfume sample. About a week before moving into Res, I fell in love with this band and listened to the song obsessively. Hot summer days, heat rising to the fourth floor of Hingston Hall, drifting lazily through the window and finding me, the newly-independent and already terrified res student. My parents and uncle have finally left me alone, and I am sitting in my dark purple office chair, debating in my head whether or not I want to leave the door open. I decide against it, but the room smells vaguely like lemon-scented dust gathering on new Ikea plastic, and all the fan seems to be doing is pushing my own carbon dioxide back in my face. The room is too tidy, too small, too stuffy, too much. Turn off the stereo, stand up, sit back down, cross the arms, think a bit more, stand back up, open the door, walk out, and the rest doesn't seem to fit in the song anymore.
But now, nearly a year later, I'm back in Toronto, and Hingston Hall is reduced to merely a collection of memories. I wonder what song it will be next time - what will be the background score to me pacing around my new apartment, wondering if I should go out and introduce myself to the neighbours? How many of these little perfumes are left before I've gone and desperately sucked up the last little dredges? Or worse - how many more times will I be able to smell these vials and relive the memories until it all just fades away and loses the magic?
So here's a few of my own personal samples:
5) Kingdom Come - Coldplay (Driving to New York in the fall of grade 10)
4) The Sound of Silence - Simon & Garfunkel (Singing along in the car with my dad, driving to Montreal when I was 8)
3) Round Here - Counting Crows (Walking down Yonge st. under my big black umbrella every day in the spring of grade 11. For about three weeks, it always seemed to rain every day around 3:30 - 4:00 as I was walking home)
2) Take Me Home, Country Roads - John Denver (Road trips to South Carolina in the summers when I was 7 and 9. We would all start singing the chorus as we were driving past West Virginia)
1) Brown-Eyed Girl - Van Morrison (Around the campfire in sleep-away camp when I was 13, breathing in the smoke-tinted air, roasting marshmallows and engaged in a never-ending "girl talk" session).
4 years ago