"Everybody Wants To Rule The World" by Tears for Fears will forever remind me of riding in my then girlfriend's crappy Oldsmobile Omega, windows down, sun shining, off to have some fun.
Van Halen's "5150" brings me back to away games with my high school soccer team.
Nitzer Ebb's "Join In The Chant" recalls my first year living in Boston.
These summer anthems are inextricably linked with time, place, and feelings: speeding in the Olds, the camaraderie of teammates, a new adventure beginning.
All of it was fueled by radio.
As soon as the iPod and iTunes Store happened, I all but abandoned radio. The immediacy of hearing whatever I wanted to hear, whenever I wanted it was irresistable. Later, streaming services with seemingly limitless, ubiquitous libraries reinforced my conviction that radio and I had broken up. I didn't realize that the summer anthem would be a casualty of the split.
One side effect of listening to Tears For Fears and Van Halen over and over is that I failed to make new associations between song and summer. What track defines the summer of 2004? Well, the same ones I listened to in 2003, 2001, 2005, 2014 and so on. That's not necessarily a bad thing, and I didn't even notice it until I started listening to radio again.
Barely a week into the Beats 1 experiment, I can tell you that, years from now, "Little Monster" by Royal Blood, "Reapers" by Muse and yes, that I've-already-heard-it-too-many-times Pharrell song will remind me of driving the kids to the beach, getting my daughter from ballet and driving through town, windows down, rediscovering radio.
Well done, Apple. You've restored something I didn't realize was missing. I'm glad to have it back.