“Music Memory: An Audible Diary” by Ania B. Holland

Illustration by Andrea Miranda

“Fall in Love (Your Funeral) presents a warning to a lover of Erykahs about the trouble that could come with pursuing commitment with her which could resolve in ones death. While I listen, I remember being ten, a blue minivan, and a sleepaway environmental camp.” 

“It’s gonna be Some slow sangin and flower bringing, If my burglar alarm starts ringing,” Erykah Badu hauntly chants on Fall in Love (Your Funeral). I’ve always had a great love and appreciation for Erykah Badu’s art, lyricism, and demeanor. But it wasn’t until this past semester, after spending seven weeks stifling through her discography for a class I was taking on her that I gained a newfound appreciation. 

I never added some of her songs to my Spotify liked playlist. Listening specifically to that song beamed me back to my adolescence, giving me vivid flashbacks of the blue Chrysler minivan my mom drove and us road tripping to a weekend environmental camping trip I’d begged my mom to chaperone. She told me to stop signing her up to do things against her will. As much as she questioned my logic at ten, she always went with it. She agreed to chaperone as long as she could play DJ. Like my mother, I developed the habit of burning songs out, playing them repeatedly until you knew it front to back.The drive down to 4H Environmental Ambassador camp consisted of wooded areas, a cool springtime breeze, and The New Amerykah as our score. “You don’t want to fall in love with me” presents a warning to a lover of Erykahs about the untimely death that could result in a relationship with her. While I listen, I remember being ten, a blue minivan, and a sleepaway environmental camp. 

Music can serve as a soundtrack for memories you might have forgotten you’ve had. It can be a healing force for one. As much as we consume it when we all make playlists to get ready, listen to a specific song after a break-up, or know a particular dance part to a 30-second piece of a tik tok, music embeds itself into our memory. Like many, my brain associates songs I’ve listened to with specific memories. It’s not with every piece nor every memory. The comforting wave of nostalgia that hits feels like home. While Fall In Love (your funeral) is one of the many songs that brings me that feeling, I’ve compiled a list of songs that put me back in that space. I can remember what I was feeling, what was happening, almost as if my brain takes a mental  snapshot but with music.

SZA – Normal Girl– CTRL 

In 2018, I was in my final year of high school. To this day, I paint that year as one of the most challenging, overwhelming times in my life. I just wanted to graduate, leave, and finally “get rid” of my old self and embrace the new person I was becoming. I couldn’t do that in an environment that I was outgrowing. For two months straight, I had “Normal Girl” on repeat and specifically screamed out the lyrics, “This time next year, we’ll be living so good, won’t be feeling no pain, I swear. Living so good, living so good.” I lived by those lyrics every time I was feeling stagnant, overwhelmed, and anxious. I played that song and dreamed about the same time next year. I’d be in a new city, studying at my dream school and LIVING. A year later, I was a freshman at NYU, exploring NYC and experiencing freedom I knew existed. The hell that the year before bought me made me grateful and overjoyed. I spent the year dissociating from the life I wanted to live and was now living it. I credit Normal Girl heavenly for getting me by. 

Jay- 444 – 444

In June of 2017, Jay-Z dropped his album 444. I didn’t get hip to the album until 2018. Then again, my mom, after figuring out how to download music onto her phone, played this album when she would pick me up in her Hyundai Elantra my senior year of high school. “I’m never gonna treat you live I should,” from the song “444” would knock through my mom’s speakers as she cruised the roundabout of my highschools pickup and drop off zone. This song provides me pleasant memories of annoyingly waiting for my mom to pick me up two hours later than when I told her to. At the same time, this memory will always make me chuckle. I’ve grown to appreciate the album, and if I were to rank my favorite albums, 444 would be a top choice. 

Jill Scott – He Loves Me (Lyzel in E flat) – Who is Jill Scott?

Jill’s soulful voice, eclectic storytelling, and poetic performance of this song soothed me as a kid. I was too young to fathom the kind of content she would discuss in her piece, but her use of scatting, jazz vocals, and instrumentation did something to me. In my music, I heavily find traces of Jills’ influence. Whether it is the cleaning and the lighting of an autumn-scented candle, nights spent getting my hair in my signature style of cornrows or to cool afternoons running errands with my mother, the soundtrack of Jill Scott will always bring a serenity. 

Maggie Rogers – Alaska – Heard It In A Past Life

This is a story that I don’t tell often, but it was such a crazy experience. So in 2015, I was a part of the NYU spring semester high school program. It was a typical day. I had come in early to get production help. The instructors talked and spoke in code words, which didn’t make sense until later on. We knew that we would listen to Clive students’ original works for special guests later in the day. Before I got to the guest, I was already star-struck with all of the then Clive students I got to interact with that I had previously stalked after knowing I wanted to attend NYU. I was in awe of them. I watched a lot of their student projects and Clive audition tapes. So when I was sitting in the back room with all of them, I was distinctly smiling because I didn’t want to stare at them as “weird.” Maggie Rogers began to play her folk-pop song. In my head, I remember my exact thoughts. I could hear this song in the mall for sure. Unlike me, Pharrell had no words. After that, she blew up, and then in 2019, I watched Maggie become nominated for best new artists at the Grammys. 

A year later, I’m casually strolling the overpriced apparel in the urban outfitters. I hear, “Hoo-hoo hoo You and I, there’s air in-between.” I once listened to this song in a private listening session and watched Pharrell’s reaction in real-time and there I was, hearing it on the radio at a random mall in New Jersey. 

Orion Sun – No Me Quitte Pas – Hold Space For Me

One of the blurred together days of the pandemic , I was scrolling Tik Tok and saw a video of a couple doing cute couple things. I’m a romantic, and I love love. I was in a bit of a funk from a situation that didn’t work out, and COVID forcibly ended it. Watching the video of the couple made me smile, and I thought to myself, I can’t wait to experience something like that. “You be all in my dreams like I’m fucking haunted, But it’s beautiful; you move me like a moonbeam, ” Orion sings. The minimalist alternative RnB track made me feel all fuzzy inside. Not even two weeks later, out of nowhere, a somewhat storybook romance fell in my lap that would make you believe in fairytales. I met and fell in love (maybe a little too quickly lol) with my little quarantine boo. I casually sent a song to them, and they told me (photo and video proof) that they played in her band. I joke with them all the time that Orion Sun brought us together and that they should introduce me to her, haha! haha! Music can make you feel emotions so strongly and manifest situations that you end up inviting into your life, and for me, that was love. 

Playboi Carti – Magnolia – Playboi Carti

In 2019, I walked into 1755 Broadway, wide-eyed. I had an interview at my first major music company, Universal Music Publishing Group. Security in suits, a vast stage eye level to the entrance, and TVs filled with music from artists on the roster. “Shooting at the opps, cause I run the blockGimme top top, in my drop top All these hoes gon’ flock flock, when I drop.” Carti was playing on the monitors. With my slicked, perfectly coiled space buns and beige PUMAS on my feet, I strolled into that UMPG building, prepared to ace my interview. Magnolia, which was playing at the time of my entrance, served as a hype-up song. I felt so freaking cool, and I thought, wow, I could get used to this! I didn’t get the internship but walked away with some great connections at the company. 

Tiwa Savage, Mr. Easy – KEYS TO THE KINGDOM -The Lion King: The Gift 

I first heard this song during “the Summer of Outstanding Balances”, as my best friend Maniya likes to call it. I worked two part-time jobs, Mcdonalds from 7 am-2 pm and Chipotle from 5 pm to close. On top of trying to stay creative, I was exhausted from working to pay off a six thousand dollar balance from school. It was my schedule every day, and I was so tired, but I had a goal to meet. Listening to “Keys of The Kingdom” reminded me that my hard work and sacrifice would be for something and that a breakthrough was coming. “Here are some things you have to know. It goes hard from having to grow. When you feel you’ve had enough, You gotta breathe. Just remember who you are. You forget, look to the stars. Even the strong, yeah, the weak. But you’re the key; you’re the key.”As I would watch the sunrise from the NJ Transit bus on my 6 am morning commute in the summer morning, I’d play this song on repeat. I cleared my balance by the grace of God. I finally quit McDonald’s, and I got back to school for the next semester. When I listen to this song now, I think back to that time of hard work. It reminds me of my resilience and determination. 

Music is a huge part of my life. It’s no surprise that it’s a career path I’d chosen to follow at a very young age. Music magically has the ability to elevate and transport someone into a space that their current reality does not reflect. It can lead them to a new city, somewhere on a beach, and even an almost forgotten childhood memory. . I’ve shared just a few songs that bring me to that state. I challenge you to ask yourself, what songs do that to you? 

  Ase’ Ania B. Holland 
 Playlist – Click Me!

Ania B. Holland is an observant individual with a healthy blend of fire signs in her natal chart that allows her to become a social butterfly when needed. Originally from South Jersey, the twenty-year-old now resides in Brooklyn, NY, finishing the last few semesters of her undergraduate degree from NYU. A musician, poet, avid journaler, and a master chef in the making. Creating no matter the medium has been how Ania has learned how to use her voice and share who she is with the world around her.  @Ania_Holland

More of Ania’s work in Mixed Mag: 

A Blessing and a Curse to Understand; Activating Océane. (Issue 8)

Transforming Your Power: From XIMONE to Lord Scorpio (Issue 7)

The Allure of Abby T. (Issue 6)

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