A Coming of Age Soundtrack

I grew up watching movies. I come from a conservative family who were bad about communicating our feelings and our way of bonding was going to the movies. We saw so many together that when I rewatch them most are connected to memories with my family. For example, whenever I watch Toy Story 2 (1999) I immediately think of living on Water Street in Fort Knox, Kentucky. I would be waiting for the military horns to go off because that meant dad was on his way home. Which also meant we could finally go see the talking toys at the local military theater. So for me, movies hold capsules of memories.    

In every coming of age film, music plays a key role. it’s a time in everyones life when an entire album like Simon and Garfunkel’s, Bookends filled the silent emotions of a young newly wed couple in the backseat of a car in The Graduate (1967). Or when Baby’s dad puts her in the corner in Dirty Dancing (1987) and Patrick Swayze says the oh so quotable phrase while (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life by Bill Medley fades in. 

    The first time I was introduced to Donnie Darko (2001) was at a time in my life where I felt alone. I was in high school deciding what kind of person I was becoming while going through personal issues at home. As a very emotional time in my life I wanted to be alone, I didn’t want to be a downer around my friends. During that time I spent a lot 

of time drawing, listening to music, and watching movies. I became obsessed with finding movies I missed out on because they were released when I was too young or not even born yet. I had such a strong connection to Donnie’s character, but what I remember most is the soundtrack throughout the movie by alternative bands of the early 80s such as Joy Division. The soundtrack of this film brought out so much emotion in me I found myself crying to lyrics rather than what was happening in the scene. Gary Jule’s Mad World had triggered everything I had been feeling in my life and I began to connect my emotions to movies rather than just memories. 

    Bring It On! (2000) sets a different tone but still affects me personally. The first movie came out long before my high school experience. It wasn’t until probably the 5th sequel that I reached proper age but the first one is the most authentic to me. Some of my happiest experiences came from listening to current hits on 97.5 on Kaitlyn’s boombox dancing in her backyard making weird imaginary music videos as if we were in Donnie’s little sister’s Sparkle Motion squad. The music in the film is very billboard top 100 but so is the mood. It's cynical to say you say you wouldn’t bother with that music, because it’s okay for us to cut loose and be happy just like it’s okay for us to be alone and figure ourselves out. Both movies are very telling of my high school experience. Whether it was me be curious about life or me figuring out I was in love with my best friend. In the end, our personal playlists tell our stories no matter what the genre.

Molly Markestein