We all have those songs that give us the chills, that make us cry, and that make us want to sing out in public. Here are some songs that heavily remind me of my gap year, songs that remind me of specific places and people. I hope you enjoy them.
Jean-Baptiste Maunier – L’amour à l’envers
If you grew up French or if you took French in school, chances are you watched Les Choristes (The Chorus). Remember the cute kid with the sassy attitude but a golden voice? Well he’s all grown up now and made his own album, Nuits Blanches. This dreamy tune just makes me want to lie in bed and let my mind float. I think of late nights when the street lights from outside shine through the blinds into the room, as I hear the sound of a motorcycle pass below.
Fauve – 4.000 îles
This is a song by one of my favorite artists. Fauve is an anonymous collective of musicians whose music consists of spoken word behind great beats. 4.000 Îles reminds me of rainy Parisian sidewalks and gray skies, walking to work after coming out of the métro station at Porte de Neuilly. I think of nights where I wandered the orange-lit streets with friends until we reached the Panthéon and look around to see the Eiffel Tower sparkling in the distance. This song just wakes up all this random nostalgia inside me.
The Pirouettes – Autoroute/Opéra
This song holds a special place in my heart. It was October and my cousin Caroline from my mother’s hometown came up to Paris. Her original plan was to come up with a bunch of friends and rent out a place to stay, but plans changed so she ended up coming alone and crashing with me. One night we decided to stay in and order sushi from the place at the corner from my apartment. It was her first time eating sushi and she loved it. We were listening to music when she showed me this one. It was so catchy and cute, I got really into the band after that. Plus the song included very familiar places in Paris, like “j’aime conduire sur les boulevards, de Ménilmontant, à Place d’Italie,” (I lived right by Place d’Italie! Maybe I can convince her to get matching lyric tattoos). Anyway we spent that night eating sushi on the floor and watching Christelle Chollet’s comedy shows. Caroline still sends me snapchat videos of her playing this song at parties when everyone is long past drunk.
Jack Campbell – Absentee
When I was abroad I used Spotify a lot and that year was when I found the “discover” playlist that it creates every week tailored to my tastes, and this song came up pretty early in the year. It just reminds me of rocking out in the shower when I’d set my phone in the sink and the music would bounce off the tiled walls of the tiny bathroom. I’m pretty sure the neighbors could hear it. I didn’t care though, they’d regularly start composing rap verses outside my window in the early morning, so…yeah. Payback.
La Roux – Kiss And Not Tell
Another song from that Spotify-generated playlist. This one made me feel better in November when I was feeling blue. I remember going down by the Gare de Lyon and going exploring in the Rue Crémieux, a skip in my step.
Grimes – REALiTi
People have recommended Grimes to me before, but this is pretty much the only song I know. I love how airy her voice sounds and overall how atmospheric the song is. It makes me think of being in my apartment alone late at night craving cheap wine and chocolate so I’d check google maps for the nearest 24/hr market open, and then set out into the damp streets of Parisian Chinatown. I’d guess my way, looking up into the light-polluted clouds and at the tall cement apartment complexes of the 13th arrondissement. When I’d get to the checkout line, basket full of treats, I’d say “bonsoir” to the young Pakistani man as he would hand me my change.
L.E.J – Summer 2015
A couple times throughout the year I went to Toulouse to visit my cousins who lived outside of the city. The first time was in November for Margaux’s 18th birthday. This song, a mashup of pop songs by three talented French girls, eventually made it to the radio and would play non-stop. We’d play it in Julie’s car, and at my cousins’ home when getting ready to go out to the only club around. It was pretty isolated and this small club was the only building for miles on this one road and everyone would go, young or old, so they all knew each other.
Cats on Trees – Jimmy (feat. Calogero)
My friend Lucie made me listen to this the night after getting my first tattoo in Janurary, the day after my 19th birthday. We had invited two other friends to her apartment and we were cooking a stir-fry. We took turns being DJ and I fell in love with this song. I love that it is sung in both English and French.
The Pirouettes – 2016 (en ce temps-là)
Looking back at 2016 this song really means a lot to me. As I mentioned, I became obsessed with The Pirouettes and this song was released at midnight on New Year’s. I remember getting the notification while I was having a small dinner with some friends in the 20th arrondissement. I didn’t stay up that late that night, which is honestly one of the only things I regret doing, and went home to bed right after dinner but not before listening to the song. In January, when I went to visit my friend Jenny in Oslo, we had one night in where we made a huge pizza and played music in the background while we cooked. She got really into this one, and now it reminds me of her. She didn’t know the title at first so she would ask me, “can you put on that song, the hmm hmm, deux-mille-seize, one?” And I’d smile and press play.
Karpe Diem – Lett å være rebell i kjellerleiligheten din
When I was in Oslo this song was very popular at the time. It’s in Norwegian and I have no idea what it means (well, some idea- the title in English is “Easy to be a Rebel in your basement flat”) but it’s a political song that sounds very powerful yet catchy. I remember hearing it blasting in Jenny’s boyfriend’s car as he drove us around Oslo one evening, taking us up the hills to show me the massive Holmenkollen ski jump. It got dark out very early but that didn’t stop us from dancing in the snow.
Boulevard des Airs – Tu danses et puis tout va
I met Pierig, a guy from Annecy, on a Monday night in a bar in Barcelona. These nights were called “Welcome drinks” to meet and greet the new students arriving at EF every Monday. I was talking with him because we both spoke French and all. He spotted my tattoo, the phrase haut les coeurs, which also happens to be a song by Fauve. He recognized the song and started tipsily singing that song and we bonded over our common taste in music. He recommended this song to me because of that same spoken-word part that reminds him of Fauve. I ended up really enjoying it as well as other songs by Boulevard des Airs, and now it all makes me think of drinking vodka lemons in Spain. Merci Pierig!
Fauve – Azulejos (Live 2015)
So Fauve actually broke up as a group that past year, which broke my heart because I hadn’t had a chance to see them in concert, but they released an album of their last concert in Paris and this song was my favorite. It’s just really angsty. The original is a capella, so this one is cool because it has music behind the words. I used to listen to it in the morning when I’d take the L6 train from Sarrià to class.
Miike Snow – Genghis Khan
My family came to visit me in Spain and we took a small road trip down to Valencia and Granada. I hadn’t seen my younger brother in 6 months, so we got to exchanging music as we do. He got me into Miike Snow a while back, and they had just come out with a new album. I remember blasting this song in the car and everyone singing the “whoohoo hoo hoo” parts. Plus the music video is super groovy.
Christine and the Queens – Photos Souvenirs
When I think of this song I always let out a soft sigh. I found this song a while after breaking up with Paris boy. The chorus really hit me; it’s all about someone remembering a person from their past, after which she gets this strong nostalgia from trips to England and birthday celebrations as well as a yearn to find them again, wherever in the world they may be. However upon going about her day, she realizes she doesn’t need to find that other person again. What good would it do? “Après tout je me fous de l’Angleterre, et j’aurai bien d’autres anniversaires…” I remember listening to this song in Spain and when my family came to visit I couldn’t sleep one night because I was Paris-sick (like homesick only of…well, you know) my mom wasn’t asleep either so she and I ended up talking for hours into the late night about past relationships, moving around and other nostalgia…
La vie, quoi.
Have any songs that do this sort of thing to you? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.