Musical Memories: As Cool As I Am

There are certain songs I can’t listen to without thinking of a corresponding memory. It’s not necessarily that the song is particularly fitting — it’s not as though the song would be part of the soundtrack were my life made into a movie. The lyrics don’t always match up to the moment. Still, the song is linked to that memory.

Dar Williams’ “As Cool As I Am” is a pretty much perfect example of what I mean. I adore that song. It is, in many ways, the theme song of my college. It has a special place in my heart for its value to my college community. Although the first time I ever heard the song was when Dar performed it in Goodhart Auditorium right before my freshman year at Bryn Mawr began (pretty awesome introduction, right?), it will alway remind me of May Day at Bryn Mawr.

The May Hole Dance, May Day 2010

“As Cool As I Am” always makes me think of pure, unadulterated joy and the sheer exhilaration of knowing that there’s nowhere on earth I would rather be. It makes me think of Bryn Mawr and Traditions and May Day, of Mawrtyrs in white and Denbigh Green, of rose petals and the May Hole Dance. It brings back memories of chanting about bringing down the patriarchy, symbolically breaking those bonds, and everyone rushing together. Everyone dancing around and shouting-singing along with Dar. In a way, for me, “As Cool As I Am” and the May Hole Dance is what May Day is all about.

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8 responses to “Musical Memories: As Cool As I Am

  1. I’m sitting at my desk at work in cold, gross, not Bryn Mawr, Ann Arbor. It’s not that I’m not happy here, but reading this post was exactly what I needed right now. I can actually feel the warmth of May Day.

    I remember freshman year when it was all super new to me and I had no idea what was going on and when they all started chanting, I thought, “wait. they actually do this here?” and then I got super pumped to break the bonds of the patriarchy for the first time. I remember sophomore year when the weather was absolutely perfect and the sun came out just as the petals hit the air. I remember junior year when it was pouring rain and May Day generally sucked, but the May Hole Dance was absolutely incredible. We all danced around in the rain in our white dresses (you wore a white bakini top and white cargo shorts if I remember correctly). There’s a photo of me dancing with some other people in a circle (you might have been there?) taken out of a window in Merion. We’re all soaking wet and laughing. I remember senior year when it was so freaking hot I spent most of the day napping (in my bed and not on the green), but remembering that insane heat right now is perfect. I feel warm and happy and super pumped for life!

    Just as you mention in your post, hearing “As Cool As I Am” invokes all of these memories as well. And honestly, I still only have an inkling as to what that song is actually about. It just makes me happy because of what it’s associated with in the same way that the Beatles’ “Let It Be” makes me really sad because it makes me think of the scene it was sung in in Across the Universe.

    Anyway, I thought I’d share my two cents on music and memories and emotion and May Day.

    Now off to kill another half hour at work before I can go to stats class. yay!

  2. Well, somehow, Pallas Athena Thea never leaves me; nor Sophias. And the May Day songs, the step songs. Lhude sing Cuckoo.

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