Songs in the Key of Love

So this post has been in my mind for a while, finally taking the time to get it out online.

Some people can define their relationships through places they visited with their partner, or food they ate together. I think it’s most common to define relationships through music. Thinking back on the men I’ve dated, I can relate a song to each one and what that song means to me when I hear it.

High school: The first big deal. The sun rose and set based on him, because I was 16 and what did I know?


He loved Cam’ron. Like, loved him. Loved Dipset, knew all the words. In my mind, the music was gibberish and I told him as much on many occasions. But over time, I began to enjoy the music for the creativity and¬†spontaneity. It didn’t matter that half of what Cam’ron¬† said was made up. Just have fun. That was the attitude I took with me to college.



He was also a huge reggae fan, being from Barbados. I’d never been exposed to reggae before. The accents, rhythms and culture were fascinating. I got to eat fish cake and hear the patois, and the music began to make sense. Having not been exposed to much outside of Texas, especially in the way of Black culture outside of the US, this is when I began to learn about the diaspora.


In college, it was my Cali connect who introduced me to hyphy music. My senior self couldn’t understand the idea of just completely losing it, I was too concerned with my cool to “shake them dreads.” Ultimately my takeaway there was that it’s good to open yourself up to new things but sometimes you gotta go with your instinct; I still don’t like hyphy and that one lasted too long. Ha!


During what I like to reference as my “life transition” period, the guy I dated explored life through his art: music. Not only did he create music, he was a historian of sorts, able to trace sounds to time periods, artist and record label. Hiscreativity distracted me, which was both good and bad. I was so wrapped up in trying to work through grief that I didn’t look past the immediate future. Once I got out of my own head, I found my own passion, applied for grad school, ended up with a new job and never looked back.


The one who gave me this song has given me the most musically. By the time we met, my taste in music had expanded far beyond rap and R&B. In fact, the majority of the music I listened to at this point was alternative. But he still managed to introduce me to new music, new sounds and a relational maturity that I hadn’t experienced. In many ways, he is not the expected…and that makes want to learn all the more.

What songs are associated with past or present loves in your life?

One Reply to “Songs in the Key of Love”

  1. When I think of my high school love, it’s totally New Edition and smooth 90s ballads. Even though they were just about starting to fall off at that time, my guy was obsessed with NE Heartbreak and got me into that sound which transitioned me into New Jack Swing. My college boyfriend created music, he was a rapper (though I doubt he would approve of that term, he was all about purity in the music and what not), but he taught me so much about how hip hop comes together, from combing through crates for elusive records to sampling, flows, lyricism, etc. Plus he got me into Little Brother which is the remaining legacy of our relationship. Finally, the husband…well oddly enough he’s put me on reggae and the importance and history of the genre within British culture, particularly in Birmingham where it came together with working class white people and became ska. And as Leisa knows he’s given me an entirely new, all encompassing love of the Beatles!

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