The Long Winters

It’s 49 degrees here at one o’clock in the morning, and I’m sitting in my car outside my house because I don’t want to stop listening to this album.

Something like four years ago, one of my good college friends gave me an album by a band called The Long Winters. I never really got around to listening to it. It stayed on my iPod for a long time and even survived the great iTunes purge, but otherwise, I hardly gave it a second thought.

As fate would have it, here in the present day, Merlin Mann, one of my Internet heroes, has a new podcast with John Roderick, who just happens to be the frontman of The Long Winters, which just happens to be the band whose album my friend gave me four years ago. When I found myself enjoying what this John Roderick character had to say, I thought it might be worthwhile to finally check out his band. Fortunately, their latest album was already in my iTunes library, where it had been patiently waiting for the past four years.

Let me point out that two of my favorite bands of all time put out new records this week, and yet neither have garnered the emotional response I’ve experienced because of this five year old album by The Long Winters. It’s remarkable.

Sometimes, a piece of music changes your life in an instant, whether it’s your first or hundredth listen. It hits you at exactly the right moment, when your surroundings, your mood, your thoughts, and everything in life is captured perfectly within the song. It creates one of those sensory memories that gets burned into your brain and transports you back to that moment whenever you hear that song again. You’re able to remember exactly how you were feeling, what you were thinking, and how crisp the autumn air smelled as you drove around on empty midnight roads with the windows down, listening to the music. It’s a feeling I can only describe as euphoric.

It’s amazing how one moment can affect you so profoundly, even four years later. Had I not received this particular album from my friend way back when, I might have still discovered the band, but I also might have bought a different album, or I might have pressed play at a different moment, one devoid of the unique circumstances contributing to this emotional experience.

This music is exactly what I need in this moment. It’s the perfect soundtrack to all of my present hopes and fears. Maybe it’s the intoxicating 49 degree air, or the romantic after-midnight hour talking, but this perfect storm of music, mood, and season have filled me with an incredible sense of joy. I don’t even want to get out of my car for fear of stopping the music and breaking the spell.

I know when I wake up tomorrow morning, it’ll be just another Monday. This comforting euphoria will be gone, but at least I’ll still have this album. All the memories associated with its discovery here, in this moment, will last for years to come, and I look forward to reliving that moment over the course of many future listens.