Greetings, friends! 2015 was another whirlwind of a year to say the least. Between graduating from Juniata, starting two new jobs, running away to California, backpacking part of the PCT, and lots of other crazy and fun dangerous shit, I had a truly memorable year. 2016 has already taken me by storm, so much that I barely have any time to write these days. But-that won’t stop me! Just like I did last year, I thought I should reflect on my year through the music it was filled with. So here we go: the first half of my most memorable/significant/influential songs that made up my 2015!
“Come on Eileen”- Dexys Midnight Runners
It was my first few days in California when I met some of Carol’s fellow grad students, a.k.a. my new Cali gal pals. While we were all on our way to downtown LA one morning to volunteer on Skid Row, Amy (the high-kick queen) turned up the volume on the radio when “Come on Eileen” came on. I had heard the song before, but I wasn’t familiar with any of the words and apparently neither was anyone else. We were all dancing and (attempting to) sing along while cruising down the 405. Throughout the rest of my time in California, this song became our girl group’s summer anthem, which was almost immediately followed each time it was played by Amy busting out her high kicks, no matter where we were. These days when I listen to this song, it takes me back to those fun days of new friends and new places. Maybe one day we’ll actually get those lyrics right. (NAT)
“Uptown Funk”-Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars
Spring Break Road Trip 2015: One of the craziest, jam packed, most fun weeks of my entire life spent with some of my friends. Saturday morning we watched Pennsylvania drift away in the rear view mirror as we shimmied down the coast to land in Asheville, North Carolina for the night. After some crazy drag shows and too much citrus (I ended up eating all the bar’s fruit…classic Clare), we hopped back in the car and headed west through the rest of North Carolina and into Tennessee. Finally, we touched down at our main destination: Horseshoe Lake, Arkansas…the land of the Cyprus tree and the home of the one and only, my Aunt Brook. After days of boozing, mudding, skinny-dipping, Beale Street cruising, and eating our weight in southern barbecue, we all jumped in the car again to go out to the casinos to celebrate my friend’s birthday. At that point, we were cruisin’ down the highway in Mississippi and for like the 2239489th time (no shame), we put on “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson. We were beyond proud of ourselves when “Jackson, Mississippi” came up in the lyrics because I mean, we were ACTUALLY IN MISSISSIPPI. LIKE…WE DROVE FROM PENNSYLVANIA TO MISSISSIPPI. That’s so far for my little car! And then by some miracle we made it home in one piece after we finished the week off with some more boozing, zoo visits, and straight jamming with Aunt Brookie. Anyways, this song will always remind me of this one-of-a-kind Spring Break, when for one whole week nothing in the world mattered other than myself, family, friends, and the open road.
“Turn Away”- Beck
Yes, Beck, yasssssss. YAAAAAAAS. Listening to this song literally makes you feel movie-worthy. Play this song on your way to work and turn your typical commute into a deep self-pondering time of complete pensiveness.
When I originally heard this song it reminded me of Bon Iver’s style to an extent with the vocal echoes and overall simplicity . The guitar strumming is the backbone for this one while various layers of Beck’s voice hauntingly sings about (what I translate to as) personifications of isolation and personal struggle. Imagine listening to this song from the top of the San Bernardino Mountains; his voice at some points would combine with the wind and it made for a hair-raising/spine tingling experience.
Now every time I listen to this song, I think back to the weekend I spent backpacking parts of the Pacific Crest Trail with my main partner in crime. Whenever shit gets me fired up or I just need a boost of happiness for whatever reason, I love to put this song on, picture the pine trees, and imagine smell of those mountains again and then I go right back to my happy place.
“Turn away from your own voice, calling no one, just to silence…”
“Boy Named Sue”- Johnny Cash
While my daddy didn’t name me “Sue,” (also-I’m not a dude)… my father did do some other crazy shit…which is why I love and connect with this song so much. His lack of presence throughout my life has molded me enough to make me feel like Johnny himself when I sing this song. While I never had a saloon fight with my father, like “Sue”, I ended up growing some pretty thick skin from dealing with all of my chronic “daddy issues”. So after dealing with some intense moments this past summer when my father had crazy health issues and I was the ringleader in charge, I learned this song can definitely lighten my mood when needed after too much dad drama.
“Natural Disaster”- Zac Brown Band
This song perfectly narrates the time when Carol and Clare discovered the “neutral gear” while driving up and down the winding roads of Yosemite. Realizing they were kind of low on gas and kind of in the middle of nowhere, they learned to make the most out of the mountains, gravity and physics while this song was narrating their drive, making the carving twists and turns through the pines. Basically Carol and Clare were/ are/ forever will be ‘natural disasters’ as they carve their paths into the world…So watch yourself because: “[they’re] coming round the bend, [they’re] holding lightning in both hands”.
“I Don’t Fuck With You”- Big Sean
Being a new server in town does not mean that I can’t handle myself and all the bullshit that follows. This year taught me without a doubt that if I set my mind to do something, I can do literally anything. With that being said, if you have douche-bag-dick-syndrome, please know that under my beautiful smile I am bilingually cursing you out for your incompetence and basically saying “I got a million trillion things that I’d rather fucking do, than to be fucking with you”. So you can shove all those 27 sides of ranch right up your ******* ******* *********** 🙂
“Muse”-OCAD, (acoustic version-coming soon to a city near you(via yours truly))
I had been in Portland, Oregon for three or four days already. Carol and I decided to have a grand finale for our big summer extravaganza and so we booked our flights from LAX to PDX and before we knew it, we had landed in the Great Pacific Northwest. For half a week Carol and I stayed at a hostel in the NW district of downtown Portland where each day we set out to explore in every direction. But after a few long days of biking throughout the city, exploring Portland’s Forrest Park (the largest city owned park in the nation), and eating a gloriously scary amount of GFDF (Gluten Free and Dairy Free) foods, Carol had to fly back down to SoCal to start her next semester of grad school. We both packed up all of our shit from the hostel and hopped back on the Red Line train that easily goes to and from the airport. After dropping Carol off and saying our goodbyes, I turned around and got right back on the train to take be back into the city because for me, my adventure wasn’t over yet.
I booked a hostel for myself on the opposite side of the city for my last three days of my journey. Long story short, it was a hell of a time switching between two trains and then a bus and then walking a few blocks with two backpacks, a purse, and my obnoxious suitcase…. but I did it. I arrived at the hostel and immediately I was immersed with genuine welcomes and smiles. This hostel was much more intimate and smaller than the other one from across the river. As soon as I put my stuff down, one of the guys that lives/works there offered me a mason jar of wine and I was like, “fuck yeah, my kind of people.” After resting and going back across the river and into the woods for some more exploring the next day, I returned to the hostel in the evening.
It was a beautiful late September evening and so everyone thought it would be a good idea to have a campfire out back that night. When it got dark we all grabbed wine and beer and went to sit around the fire. Including myself, there were people from all across the USA, as well as Central America, Europe, and lots of other places. Basically it was a group of international strangers huddled around a fire. The same kid who offered me the wine the night before came out with his guitar and began to play and sing along to tunes while the rest of us quietly chattered and listened. After a few songs and maybe two glasses of wine in Clare time, the guitar guy asked if anyone else wanted a turn.
Now it had always been kind of a dream of mine to play guitar and sing for people one day. I started taking guitar lessons in early 2015 and since then, I had been dying to show everyone my new skills. So when this kid asked if anyone wanted to play, I actually was like “yeah, I’ll take a crack at it”. Everyone’s faces lit up when I started to strum and get in key and it made me even more excited to play and sing for everyone. I decided to sing “Muse” by OCAD, only in my acoustic version.
Singing for everyone felt similar to the rush that I get when dancing or performing on stage. I loved to look up from the guitar and look into everyone’s eyes and smiles and feel their energy and see them enjoying themselves. While it was maybe only 4 minutes that I played for my hostel friends, it was an extremely intimate 4 minutes. The international love was flowing and when I finished the last chord everyone started to actually clap for me and congratulate me. In that moment I realized that after all of the risks and crazy leaps I had taken so far that year, especially on my West Coast trip, that playing this song was the best and most symbolic way for me to end my adventure. I had taken one of the scariest risks to expose myself in front of such incredible strangers and the outcome couldn’t have been anymore beautiful.