I’ve always been okay staying in and chilling at home, even during the weekends. I am what they call a homebody, always preferring to revel in my film collection and going to sleep around 9 p.m. Something I’m not used to is being unable to see my friends in person while back home. Since the coronavirus outbreak, California has been under a strict lockdown, which has prevented me from hosting kickbacks with my friends. So, I decided to visit them throughout Los Angeles to do the three things I love most: drive, listen to music and take photographs. This also provided me the opportunity to catch up with friends I hadn’t seen in a long time while maintaining social distance.
What originally began as a simple way to pass time morphed into this project that gave me the chance to reflect on my relationships and the music that transports me back in time to specific moments shared with my friends.
This is a playlist of sorts filled with songs from my past and my beloved tradition of perusing through the dusty DVDs and records at Amoeba Music Hollywood, which is now indefinitely closed.
Link to playlist: baby, you can drive my car.
If you feel so inclined, add songs to this playlist that you listen to when driving.
“I Miss Those Days” by Bleachers
I met Naomi Clements Gettman at a Bleachers concert in the fall of 2017. I was sitting alone against a fence, reading a book, when Gettman and her friend Luz sat down next to me. I don’t remember how we struck a conversation but I remember being delighted to discover that Gettman went to the community college I was attending before she transferred to CSUN to pursue a major in film studies. In fact, she took a screenwriting class with the same professor I did. What really struck me about Gettman was that she opened up to me, a complete stranger, and invited me into her life. We’ve attended several concerts together and been friends ever since. Needless to say, I am thankful that frontman of Bleachers, Jack Antonoff, brought us together on that fateful September day.
“pink skies” by LANY
I can’t remember the day I met Elise Navarro. I know it was during high school when I still attended Maranatha and I know I met her through a mutual friend, but I don’t think we connected until we left high school. One thing that we have in common is our mutual love for LANY and their music that creates a euphoric feeling while driving under “pink skies.”
Last semester, while I was adjusting to life in the city and feeling a bit homesick, I posted a story on my Instagram commenting on how lonely I felt at NYU. Navarro immediately messaged me showering me with love, compassion and care. I remember that I felt like Navarro was right next to me, offering me solace even though she was miles away, in Colorado.
She makes me feel close to home just like when I listen to LANY.
“Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)” by Katy Perry
Berlin Garcia-Marquez is the only one on this list who knows me from my cringey middle school days. Even if those days are too embarrassing to recall, I am fond of the time we spent running around thinking we were cool, watching movies that were too mature for our age and having the occasional sleepovers with dance parties to Katy Perry and The Black Eyed Peas. To some of our peers and teachers, we seemed wild, but to each other, we were the perfect amount of fun. At the time, it was just us and a couple of other friends against the world, and it still felt that way even though we hadn’t seen each other for a while. No matter the distance, Garcia-Marquez will always be my cuzzo.
“I Want It That Way” by Backstreet Boys
Back when I attended Pasadena City College from 2016-2019, I had the opportunity to work on their paper, The Courier, throughout my time there, alongside Photo Editor, Michael Watkins. In my tenure as both the Managing Editor and Editor-in-Chief, I spent a majority of my time with Watkins, figuring out the multimedia for each article. He was the one that would make me laugh on those long, dreadful Wednesday nights of publishing and editing article after article. Whether it was his ridiculous dad puns or his DJing that consisted of only “I Want It That Way” by the Backstreet Boys, I’m thankful Watkins was by my side to make me smile.
“Red” by Taylor Swift
I met Aurora Lyons working as a writing tutor at Pasadena City College. We were fortunate enough to be part of the staff that was reinventing the Writing Support Center from an unknown tutor space to what it is now: a center that is popular among students and staff.
When I met Lyons, I knew very little about her except for the fact that she loved Taylor Swift, a musician that I both appreciate and criticize. We would sometimes get into small arguments about her politics but none of it mattered because once she’d mention a song that she liked — such as “Red” — I’d chime in immediately with, “OMG, I also love that song.” Sometimes, I’d even sing aloud. Something I like about Lyons is that she always listened to my arguments about Taylor Swift (and politics in general), even if they were stupid and somewhat unnecessary; she made me feel heard. I’m not someone that likes to share the more vulnerable parts of myself with people I haven’t known for a while, but with Lyons it was easy, and I’m thankful to myself for tearing down my walls and trusting her because I don’t know if I would have gotten this far without Lyons and her sage advice.
“Rebel Rebel” by David Bowie and “More Than This” by Roxy Music
Before I transferred to NYU, my Friday nights consisted of driving down Los Feliz Boulevard onto Sunset Boulevard to Amoeba Music. It’s a tradition that started before I even knew how to drive: with my dad, who would heroically drive in LA traffic so that I could build my film and music collection with the help of our favorite record store. Since then, all I ever did Friday — and sometimes Saturday — nights was jump into my car, listen to some tunes and drive to Hollywood.
This record store has given me more than another place in LA to call home. Amoeba Music — and also my dad — gave me the best music to listen to when I drive such as “More Than This” by Roxy Music, a song that I listen to in silence while I glare past the neon lights on Sunset Blvd. or “Rebel Rebel” by David Bowie, a song that makes me long to be a teenager in the 70s.
Most of the music found in that record store has been played on drives along the Pacific Coast Highway tinted with pink skies, around downtown LA late at night and in search of rooftops with the best views.
If I could listen to my never-shared Spotify playlists on repeat and drive around forever, I would do it in a heartbeat.
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, May 4, 2020 e-print edition. Email Mandie Montes at [email protected]