The Soundtrack to Many of My Firsts


We’ve all lived through a lot of firsts and those moments are generally unforgettable. Looking back on “firsts” there’s some sort of magic that nostalgia works on those moments, making them even more enchanting than living through them.

When you have a song tied to a “first,” it becomes even easier to get transported back to that time, moment, place, or person because all you have to do is listen. Sometimes songs are tied to firsts by association; other times, it’s because the music was an integral part of the experience.

This playlist is dedicated to the songs that made up a lot of firsts for me and will forever hold a deeper significance to me.

Fly With Me – Jonas Brothers

The JoBros were my first concert. My mom knew someone who had to get rid of tickets last minute so she bought them and surprised me with them. I was a Nick girl (and still am, with no shame) and when they played “Fly With Me,” I nearly died because my man is the lead vocals on the track.

Fearless – Taylor Swift

The first album I bought was Swift’s second album, titled for the song on this playlist. My sister and I shared a serious love for this album in the room we shared together that, at the time, was painted an aggressive teal blue. Our tastes in colors and music has changed over time but this album is still special to us.

The Wire – Haim

Haim performed at the first music festival I ever went to, which was Governor’s Ball in 2016. My sister and her boyfriend of less than a year at that point (they’re now engaged after four years for reference) had decided to go but he asked her if she wanted to invite my brother and I and he invited his sister. It started pouring during Haim’s set but we stayed all the way through The Killers headlining performance, even when so many others cleared out.

Waka Waka (This Time For Africa) – Shakira

My first job ever was at a Girl Scout summer camp that I had attended for several years as a camper. One of the counselors had created a dance to this song and as a counselor, it was unofficially part of my job to know it and do it with the campers. As I entered the “workforce” with a “real” summer internship this past summer, I have to say, I honestly missed camp a lot.

When We Were Young – Adele

This song was the first slow dance I ever danced with someone that was not my dad at a father-daughter dance. It was the last song played at my senior prom and my date and good friend asked me if I would like to dance. We talked and laughed through the whole song, but I’ll still cherish that moment for the sweet and awkward first it was.

Dark Blue – Jack’s Mannequin

This song was playing when I got into my first (and so far, only) car accident ever. It was a fairly minor fender bender as I merged from the Garden State Parkway onto I-87 but I still started to cry hysterically because I was 17 and terrified and coming home from my last day of high school. I still love this song though, just not as much when I’m driving.

Wish I Knew You – The Revivalists

My first boyfriend put this on a playlist he made for me before we started dating. This song meant a lot to me because throughout the many weird ways life brings people together, there were several times we were at the same places at the same time in the three years prior to us meeting.

Ribs – Lorde

After my freshman year roommate and I watched Lorde get snubbed at the Grammys, we found the link to tickets to her tour and bought some. It was literally one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to. It was also the first concert I went to without a member of my family or another adult being there. Yeah, I realize this is a weird “first,” but it was special to me and my concert junkie heart.

Super Trouper – Mamma Mia Cast

After my first breakup, the first romcom I watched as I ate ice cream and cried was Mamma Mia. I had never seen it before and I absolutely fell in love with the film and finally understood the hype around it. It took me a while to sit down and finally watch the film but saving it for my first breakup was a smart choice I think.

Sports Car – Valley

I saw Valley open for The Band Camino (a band I’ve featured in this column before!) in September. What first might this be? It was my first mid-week concert that I’ve gone to and also the first time I had a really good experience at a general admission concert. Instead of getting aggressively and unsafely pushed around or yelled at by a 40 year-old man, I made friends with a cross-faded twenty-something year old guy who was just really vibing with the music and all the other random people around me and my friends.