College: A Musical Digest

College is different things to different people.  For lots of us, college is about discovering new music.  I worked in the music department of a now-defunct books-music-and-café chain while in college (hint: it rhymes with Borders), and music became such an integral part of my college experience that it’s hard to separate some songs from my memories of that time.
So, here’s a humble attempt to look at just some of the songs that I associate with the college experience.  Dear reader, please keep in mind that I’m not attempting to capture everyone’s experiences (in fact, some of these weren’t released during my UMaine window).  Also: I’m not very cool any more, as most of my listening of late is of the Frozenvariety, thanks to a certain future Black Bear in the house.  But here are just a few songs for your consideration.  I’d love to hear what you associate with college, UMaine, Orono, that girl in your chemistry lab who caught you looking at her over the Bunsen burner that one time…  Whatever.
Songs about…  College.
Kanye West – School Spirit
Somehow, this is ten years old now.  But still, I’m not sure there’s a contemporary song that’s catchier and gets to the digital age’s skepticism of higher ed.  Granted, college didn’t work for Kanye, but not everyone’s got those lyrics, either.
Death Cab for Cutie – We Looked Like Giants
I love the double meaning of ‘We Looked Like Giants,’ as it describes skipping class to get busy in the back seat of a car, while fully describing the power that nostalgia and memory can have over us.  Well, me, anyway…

Bob Marley – pick one.
While not really about college, there’s almost always a period in a college student’s life when s/he listens to too much Bob Marley.

Songs for…  Partying.
Otis Day & the Knights, Animal House – Shout
College party anthem, regardless of generation.

Andrew WK – Party Hard

Beastie Boys – Fight For Your Right

Released 15 years apart, these two remain two of the biggest party jams you can find.

Also, this:
DMX – Party Up
House of Pain – Jump Around
You cannot play this at a party without dudes jamming along with it.  Impossible.
Outkast – Hey Ya!
Somewhat more recent, this earworm is a party favorite with the dudes and dudettes.

Songs that…  Give you breakup advice.
Robyn – Call Your Girlfriend
Most everybody ends a relationship in college, either as the dumper or the dumpee.  I did both.  You did too, probably.  Nice take on that uncomfortable conversation by a favorite, here.  I’d never dump you, Robyn.

Songs for… The Seasons at UMaine.
Fall: White Stripes – Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground
Because late fall in northern New England can be a cold, gross, miserable place.  Dead leaves.  Dirty ground.  Yep.

Winter: You’re as Cold as Ice by Foreigner was nearly the choice here, but that’s more of a jokey play.  Winter, by The Rolling Stones more accurately sums up some of the bleakness that comes with late January in Orono.

Spring: Electric Light Orchestra – Mr. Blue Sky.
Once the temps hit the 60s and the mud starts to dry up, there might not be a happier feeling than getting outside on campus after being stuck inside for most of the last 4-5 months. 

Summer: Seals & Crofts wrote Summer Breeze, and it’s probably that version that’s most appropriate for summertime, but I just like the Type O Negative cover better, so here you go.

Songs that… Are just my own personal memories of UMaine.
Pearl Jam – Yellow Ledbetter.
This song is ingrained in my UMaine memory forever.  I was headed to a Black Bear Football game with my dad when I was in high school, and this song was blasting off the porch at the Beta house.  Warm, clear fall day.  Football.  College.  Pearl Jam.  It’s all mushed together in my brain now, as one mega-stereotypical college experience.  Love it.

Third Eye Blind – Semi Charmed Life.
I don’t like this song.  But it was EVERYWHERE when we were at UMaine, for the better part of two years, it seems.  The Maine Steiners even did a cover.  For better or worse (worse), it was a huge part of the college experience for me.

Led Zeppelin – Hey, Hey What Can I Do?
I spent a good amount of time at the Bear Brew in college.  This is back when it was the hippie place…  This song was as regular on the speakers as some of the clientele on the bar stools.  Another favorite.

Busta Rhymes – Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See
If you know anything about me, you know I was a big Busta Rhymes fan.  Really big.  I think this one was the height of my fan-dom, and was released right before Bus-a-Bus played at Bowdoin College (or as he called it, “Bow-den University.”)

Chumbawumba – Tubthumping
This is another one that was ever-present for a while.  This might/might not have made the cut, except for the fact that it was playing on St. Patrick’s Day 1998, and it became the basis for an impromptu cover song about drinking with yours truly.  It was a gem.  You had to be there.

Some other entries, from the era.  Kind of a sad era.

Oh, and then there’s this one…  That’s better.
The Stein Song.

What about you?  What are the tunes that take you back to the 04469?  Most of mine come from a pretty particular era, so tell us in the comments, on Facebook, or on Twitter!


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