Operation Enduring Music: Seniors recall musical memories

How can one man possibly take on the titanic task of summarizing four years of college music into one short article? Dear God, give me strength.

Most seniors’ vivid memories of music are not the songs that they choose themselves, but those they were forced to endure by others. Becca Linder recalls, “Every day of sophomore year my next-door neighbor Tony Lawson would set his alarm for 7 a.m. and put “One More Time” by Daft Punk on repeat while he showered for 45 minutes. With the song blasting. Every f—ing day!”

I had a similar experience in my own house. “Munchmaster” Mike Winton, a member of the Tony Lawson school of music appreciation, with the help of his little computer and huge speakers, was able to turn the kitchen of Susie Hopkins into a Strokes concert. From September to March, Winton ignored the playlist feature on Winamp and played various Strokes tunes on repeat, ad nauseam from his little rabbit hutch of a dwelling.

This leads me to another point: with the bisection of Agard 6, there is no longer a room on campus large enough to merit a subwoofer. Those boxes are the tool of the devil, designed to force the peace-loving dorm dwellers out of their rooms and into the library.

Who doesn’t remember walking up or down the hill to Mission in the spring of sophomore year hearing ultra-loud music blare out of the top story as one man imposed his musical tastes on the rest of us? The music was generally abrasive and the man was the ever-pleasant Josh Feit. A true music fan, Feit wanted to ensure that he wouldn’t be deprived of his beloved rap as he ventured to class, the comforting beats and epitaphs welcoming him back to Mission on his way home.

Jake Poorman and the guys from Wood remember a time sophomore year when Brendan Quinn came into their common room around 2 a.m. and put “Gangsta” by Outkast on repeat. “We were scared of him, so no one said anything. He then proceeded to stand next to the speaker, with a pained look on his face, shouting ‘GANGSTAAAAA, OOOOOOOOO!’ every time the refrain came up,” Poorman elaborated. “He continued doing this long after we had all gone to sleep. . . I am not sure when he left, but as of 4 a.m. he was still in there, still listening to the same song.”

Wait, this isn’t right! Music isn’t supposed to be divisive and scary, it’s supposed to help people come together and bask in the bright sounds of aural delight. Davida Kutscher recalls sitting in a Greylock common when Pearl Jam’s “Alive” started playing: “I’ve loved this song since middle school, so I just started belting it out, but everyone else had had the same impulse, so all of a sudden there were seven or eight of us singing ‘Alive’ at the tops of our lungs. It was one of those perfect bonding moments that comes along once in a while and that you never forget.”

Sadly enough, many people on campus bonded over one of the worst bands of all time. “Freshman year, at every Brooks late night I remember them playing The Venga Boys, ‘We Like to Party,’” Chris Vazquez ’04 said. With a glint of a tear in his eye he continued, “I came to associate that song with a bunch of sweaty drunk college kids bumping around and feeling each other up.”

Alas, he’s not alone. Darcy Robb remembers going to underage drinking parties in freshman dorms and hearing “Boom Boom Boom” by The Venga Boys: “I heard it coming out of so many laptop speakers at freshman-year parties. Ugh, I saw more than one person mouth ‘I want you in my room’ with the song. . . to mixed results from recipients.” Note to current freshmen: stick with “We Like to Party;” it seems to be more effective at getting results.

There are some songs that will always be tied to a specific place. The Purple Pub, despite its numerous strengths, has an unexceptional jukebox selection. Couple this with an unexceptional crowd and you find that there is one (unexceptional) song that will be played over and over. Dave Brenninkmeyer said, “Every time I’ve ever been to the pub, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Tuesday’s Gone” has come on at some point. I think that song will make me think of Williams from now on.” It’s funny, when I hear “Tuesday’s Gone,” I’m brought back to midsummer summer traffic jams on Dallas freeways, my windows rolled down and redneck music streaming out of 92.5 KZPS.

Everyone who lived in Fay 3 freshman year knows that the guys’ shower was a particularly musical place. Even some people who didn’t live there remember Ned May’s frequent renditions of “When You Say Nothing at All” from the Notting Hill soundtrack. “I have distinct memories of him in the halls of Fay 3 belting out the words as if he were Ronan Keating himself and adding his own personal dance moves to woo the class of ’03 girls,” Shannon Walsh reminisced. “What a lady killer that Ned May was then and still is now.”

For me and Dan Healy, the illicit Rectory basement will forever be associated with the rockin’ good times of Mr. Andrew W.K. The grimy walls oozed with grimy music and as Healy puts it, “I think we will all remember Andrew W.K.’s anthem triumvirate, ‘It’s Time to Party,’ ‘Party Hard’ and ‘Party Till You Puke,’ because when it was time to party, we partied hard and sometimes we puked.”

Sometimes music helps us enjoy the moment and sometime it makes us wish we weren’t there. Looking around a particularly lame Williams party, Perry Kalmus heard “California Love,” by Tupac and Dr. Dre come on the stereo. “It explained very clearly that with weather like we have in Williamstown we can never have the girls, the parties, the life of a west coast baller.” I don’t know about Perry, but I consider myself an east coast balla, though maybe I’m alone in that respect.

Even a balla like me has to retire his kicks someday, and for my Williams Record self, that day is today. If I can just leave one request for all the underclassmen it’s this: remember, college is a good time to listen to music, even if it makes you puke.