Feel it still: Songs that evoke specific memories

I suppose all Thematic Static shows are compiled by people who mine their rich memories associated with songs — this weekly mixtape we make together depends on your quick and enthusiastic recall of a tune that fits a theme. But when prompted to tell stories with those memories, WNXP listeners and the broader staff at Nashville Public Radio really came through. We got the hilarious, the romantic, the tender. We got so much so that we did two full hours on this theme, a few weeks apart.

Listen to both shows here, where you can stream the archives (👇). We welcome your stories and requests anytime at wnxp.org/feedback so we can air YOUR voice on Nashville’s Music Experience!

#ThematicStatic Playlist – 5/25/23

Ass Ponys – “Little Bastard” – Jon met a guy named Snake and this one’s for him.

Annie Lennox – “Don’t Let It Bring You Down” – This hauntingly gorgeous Neil Young cover is on Lennox’s 1995 record Medusa, which may just be the album I’ve heard the most, start to finish, in my life. Mom always had it on when we were prepping and eating dinner in the mid-to-late ’90s, and the CD is miraculously unscratched so we still play it when we adult children visit now, a quarter-century later. Here’s a live version:

Wolf Parade – “Shine a Light” – Hear Tony’s introduction to this song and celebrate that his daughter Lily is now an avid music-listener (and WNXP fan), herself.

Depeche Mode – “Never Let Me Down Again” – You never forget the songs you bumped when you first learned to drive, and this was Crystal’s experience with Depeche Mode, who fittingly sing, “I’m taking a ride with my best friend.”

Paul Simon – “You Can Call Me Al” – Jude Mason recounts an international bonding experience over this classic. P.S. Jude can we throw a “Wigs and Shades” party soon?

Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Under the Bridge” – Destin mowed the grass as a teenager blasting the Chili Peps in his Walkman.

Cameo – “Word Up” – Nina Cardona has been with Nashville Public Radio longer than almost anyone at the org, and unlocked an early memory of driving near the station.

Mitski – “Francis Forever” – Steve Haruch shares another heartwarming tale at the intersection of music and parenthood.

The Police – “Message in a Bottle” – Keelz relayed a story I need to quote verbatim because it’s too good to paraphrase:

Won free passes to soundcheck at Fenway Park (Police Reunion Tour 2007) . Sting picked me out of crowd for one song for soundcheck. We shared a mic and sang backgrounds to “Message In A Bottle” with another fan singing leads … all while Copeland and Summers were rocking out on stage with us. A moment I’ll never forget and this song always brings me back to that Radass time. (I vividly remember over exaggerating my vowels and mouth while singing, in hopes that my lips would touch Stings lips 🤣🤣🤣) #messageinabottle

Keelz on The Police

Architecture in Helsinki – “Contact High” – Margaret Raney of Nashville Public Radio remembers the summer after graduation and feeling free listening to this total bop.

One Direction – “What Makes You Beautiful” – Mikayla got me to play a boy band on #ThematicStatic, because how cute is their story about bailing on a beach day to get first access to this new One Direction tune?!

Jimmy Eat World – “For Me This is Heaven” – Maybe I reveal too much about the workings of teenage Celia’s brain to introduce this final song of the show. Sorry not sorry, unnamed unrequited high school love. Now I have a pulpit. If the band plays this when they visit Nashville July 28, you’ll find me as a puddle on the lawn at Ascend. (ICYMI, we did a whole Emo #ThematicStatic recently, too.)

#ThematicStatic Playlist: 6/29/23

The Beatles – “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite” – Mike B. “attempted” to unicycle to this tune at a work event and won $100. Ha!

Parcels – “somethinggreater” – I was wearing my Parcels t-shirt when I pulled in this track, remembering fondly their Brooklyn Bowl show last year.

Brandi Carlile – “The Story” – Seth revealed why this artist, and this song of hers, is so special to him. Must listen. <3

Cocteau Twins – “Sugar Hiccup” – Magnolia McKay at This is Nashville goes back in space and time when she hears this one. Stream the show for her beautiful story!

Django Django – “Spirals” – This one will always remind me of the first days of WNXP, when I started as a part-timer on weekends. This hypnotic rock song feels to me like that winter of 2020/2021, soundtracking uncertainty in my personal life and also through new phases (variants and waves) of COVID-19. It really takes me back. And it still fits great on any given playlist, I think, like this one!

Lizzo – “Paris” – Justin Barney has a story that will make you green with envy, since everyone wants to catch time with Lizzo IRL.

Loretta Lynn – “Fist City” – Emily Young’s grandma Barb mastered the fine art of smoking cigs while baking biscuits, never letting the ash hit the gravy. Oh, Tennessee.

Bruce Springsteen – “If I Should Fall Behind” – Keri Pagetta, who keeps us all organized at Nashville Public Radio, recounted this sweet memory:

When Joe Pagetta suggested that our wedding song be a Bruce Springsteen song, I probably scoffed, “What’s in the raspy rocker’s catalogue that would fit as a song of love and devotion?”  And then I listened: “We swore we’d travel, darling, side by side. We’d help each other stay in stride. But each lover’s steps fall so differently. But I’ll wait for you, and if I should fall behind, wait for me.”

Keri on her wedding song by The Boss

Tina Turner – “What’s Love Got to Do With It” – Levia also has a grandma-related memory associated with song, this one from up northeast, where they enjoyed timeless music of Tina Turner together.

Nick Drake – “Pink Moon” – Who needs a romantic interest when, at age 19, you can fall asleep safely and sweetly in a dorm room extra long twin just feet from your BFF? That was our rationale for a season, anyway. This record is instant zen for me, still. “Night, Cel.” – Ashley

Bob Dylan – “Tell Me That It Isn’t True” – Grant said that Dylan’s record Nashville Skyline reminds him of touring for summer baseball in the western U.S. as a high schooler, never imagining he’d live in Music City years later as a young professional.

The Mighty Mighty Bosstones – “The Impression That I Get” – It’s way easier to win tickets to concerts and festivals now, via WNXP, than it was for an 11-year-old in the time before cell phones to try to nab ’em as “first caller” to a Top 40 station. (Story included before this absolute banger of a ’90s hit.)

Squirrel Flower – “I’ll Go Running (Live from WNXP)” – I think Ella Williams and her band were the first visitors to our Sonic Cathedral that allowed us to do an interview afterward. The squad at WNXP was so giddy to host artists, once touring had recommenced in the fall of 2021, and this newly minted performance space was the perfect scene for the moody, gorgeous songs of Squirrel Flower. I wept. Find this and all sorts of emotional sets at wnxp.org/livesessions.