by Jaclyn Quigley
I walk in the door, set down my bag, and turn on music. A light of its own, the soundtrack to my life gets priority over turning the knob on the nearest lamp. Priority over a change of clothes, over getting a drink, sometimes over kissing him hello.
Growing up in a town of cow farms and cornfields, it was country music. We counted down the Top 40 with Bob Kingsley each Sunday morning on the way to church. I looked up to the my-give-a-damn’s-busted women of 90s country, and the closest thing to a sexual awakening that I got in early high school was a Keith Urban music video of him sitting cross-legged on that big bed, playing his guitar and crooning about making memories of us.
I moved away to college and took my newfound musical freedom as seriously as every other kind of independence I could find. I tried new things – pop rock while gossiping with my new roommate, emo pop while I made out with my sophomore TA in his childhood bedroom, indie pop in the library study room with a big group of us not studying at all. It was freshman year that I gave the Beatles an honest first and final try. Free streaming got big that year and I made a Pandora account as quickly as I could, ensuring that as long as I had the internet, I had music.
Boyfriends burned me CDs, all suggesting songs and bands they thought I should like, and it was my husband who finally gave me music he thought I would like. Perplexed that my background was simply equal parts Nashville and church pew, he made playlists like ‘Harder Stuff, Go Mosh’, ‘Nasty, Dirty Blues’, and the classic ‘Classics’ mix, featuring ‘Stairway to Heaven’, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and other songs that cover bands generally refuse to cover. So much of our history is wrapped up in albums and songs that played that one time when… our relationship is written in a playlist of its own.
My music comes in many forms: live shows on a drunken Friday night, the record player on a slow Sunday morning, through my earphones walking to work on a weekday at 9. My body needs oxygen and it needs music. I breathe harder as I run and Beyoncé pushes me through, I dance harder and Lucius is the air that fills my lungs. I slowly wake up to the Lone Bellow and take my first breath of the day, nourishing my body with their melodies. There’s a different band for every mood, every item on the to-do list, every section of the road trip. The playlist grows and stays the same as I do too.
Jaclyn Quigley is a writer, a lover, a fighter. Her heart is in New York, her body is in Dallas. She’s not into bullshit.