[This post is part of the College: Alphabetized by Album series]
This Monday, I’m actually back in Knoxville for a visit. It’s the only extended window I have before school starts up and Christmas break, although I’ll be back up this way in September for a wedding in Louisville. That occasion however, won’t provide much time for hanging out.
Being in Knoxville these days is always nostalgic. It brings back good memories, but it is also kind of sad since I’m reminded that things change, and everything is never just quite like you left it. Not that I expected everything to remain the same, but still, change can be both exciting and disheartening.
In that light, the next album that comes up in my iTunes is The Working Title’s About-Face. I was introduced to this band through a co-worker at Starbucks and actually caught a show in downtown Knoxville sometime around late 2006-early 2007. This particular period of my college years was a dark one, and it was not long after becoming acquainted with this band that I would perform my own about face and break up with the girlfriend I attended that show with, and a few months after that move to Dallas to start seminary.
Because of that, I have somewhat mixed emotions listening to this album now. I really like the grooves and the melodies are catchy. If you like bands like Copeland or Switchfoot (among other similar bands), you’ll probably dig The Working Title. The hooks, being what they are, have settled in my memories alongside the visuals that accompanied most of my listens and so it is hard to not listen to this album and see the scenery of 2006 all over again.
There is however a way to lessen this effect. The girl I was dating at the time was from Atlanta and her mom still lived northeast of Atlanta in Cumming, Georgia. Certain albums, this one among them, remind me both of that phase in my life and that particular scenery with that particular companion. Recently, I was back up in this area again for a wedding. We were in Canton, which is close to Cumming, along the same road (Highway 20) which you exit I-75 (if you’re coming from Knoxville) in order to get over to Cumming. When it came time to leave, I was driving, but this time with Ali riding shotgun and her brother Ivan (who particularly likes The Working Title) and her sister Sophia in the back.
I decided that this was a perfect opportunity to recreate a different, yet similar scenery to go alongside About Face. Painting over memories is not always the best idea, but this is not the first or the last time I’ve recast the visuals to certain soundtracks. By listening to this album on the drive along Highway 20 over to Cumming, my freshest memories of this album are now of Ivan singing along and driving with Ali by my side rather than an ex-girlfriend singing along by my side. When I picture Cumming, Georgia now, the soundtrack is still similar but the faces in my memory have effectively changed. Having made my own “about face” back in 2007, and with this reprogramming exercise, I can now listen to About Face without thinking about that face, and see different faces now instead. The former memories are never completely erased, but “redeeming” an album like this from memories you’d rather not revisit lessens their haunting ability. Or at least that’s how it works in my mind.