With four years gone, now our senior Scene writers share their collegiate swan song. These songs make up the soundtrack to a collection of memories — some vivid, some faded — and they capture the essence of what Scene is often about: the people and the music.
"Aphasia" - Pinegrove
By Senior Scene Writer Michael Donovan
Before Scene, before WVFI and Alumni Hall and The Shifties, there was “Aphasia.” Not the song so much as the condition: an inability, on a functional level, to understand and express oneself in speech. It was mental blockage more than anything. I’d happily accept labels of “the quiet one” or “the studious introvert” if it meant I wouldn’t have to expose myself in spoken language, to put myself at risk.
Then “you came” — friends, classmates, bandmates and mentors alike — “and sent me out unfurling in the street, and I felt an unprecedented confidence in speaking.”
“So long Aphasia and the ways it kept me hidden / So long the silent nerves and hesitant oblivion.”
A lot of the time, my corrective measures were really just noise: “It’s not so much exactly all the words I used. It’s more that I was somehow down to let them loose.” And, initially, the words were paper thin — speech patterns crafted and inflected to fit the cutout of the person I thought I might want to be.
Mishaps here and there, relationships mishandled and obligations up in flames were enough to retract the anti-aphasic sentiments. More than a few failures (academic, social, spiritual) turned my nocturnal cycle.
“Something tonight was such a let down on my pride / It takes a part of me I don’t go to take some things in stride.”
In crisis, I’d walk.
“I’d pace around the place so quiet by myself,” but “I’d wake the next and see the silence went unfelt.”
So I resigned to denial — “Nah things go wrong sometimes don’t let it freak you out” — which went well: “But if I don’t have you by me then I’ll go underground.”
Though I always did have an escape route, a way to feel better.
“To help remind myself I wrote this little song.”
We hit a wall,
a minor inconvenience, just a little setback,
to get annoyed about
because it’ll be over in a month or two.
It’s fine. We’re good. We’re not that screwed.
We’re waiting for the fall.
Looking forward, try to stall.
Outside, the trees never looked so tall.
“Good as Hell” - Lizzo
By Senior Scene Writer Gina Twardosz
“Good as Hell” was our getting ready song. Our scream-it-in-the-car on the way to Nick’s Patio song. In 2019, it was even our spring break song. Because, for a moment, things were good as hell. And now, it means a lot more to my friends and me, and to all the seniors at Saint Mary’s, really. “Woo child, tired of the bullsh*t,” Lizzo sweetly sings. She’s right! By now, seniors are tired of all this B.S. These were supposed to be our last months of fun, freedom and friendship — we earned them. The current situation feels like a devastating loss, but one that we really can’t be all too mad about. We’re alive. Healthy. That should be enough; and yet, my heart aches for those quintessential moments that I lost as I meander through a world that’s been put on pause. “Go on, dust your shoulders off, keep it moving.” Okay, Lizzo, if you insist. It’s time to dry our eyes. Lizzo validates our sentiment that life is hard (hard as hell) but we have to keep trying. If anything, this pandemic has proven that friendship doesn’t end after college — it blossoms. So, I play this song on repeat for my Smicks. “Hair toss, check my nails, baby, how you feelin’?” I hope you’re feeling good as hell about your four years at Saint Mary’s: I know I am.
"Thank You for the Music" - ABBA
By Senior Scene Writer Hanna Kennedy
ABBA has a perfect song for every mood, moment and feeling. When I think of graduating, multiple options come to mind. “Slipping Through My Fingers,” “When All Is Said And Done” and “Take A Chance On Me” are all great choices. But when I think of the time I’ve spent writing for Scene, there’s only one: “Thank You for the Music.”
It’s the perfect song for the Mama Mia-style montage of the past four years running through my head while I try to write this (thankfully without Pierce Brosnan’s singing voice, though I wouldn’t mind Colin Firth showing up). So many memories from college are tied to songs, and “Thank You for the Music,” without fail, queues them up in my mind. “Waterloo” — sorry, ABBA again — is inseparable from the times spent singing and dancing in the hallways before SYRs and formals; for some reason, “Valerie” makes me think of the McGlinn showers; “Follow Your Arrow” always brings back those nights spent in the basement of South Dining Hall working production.
So to Scene and to everyone who has shared music with me these past four years: “Thank you for the music, the songs I'm singing / Thanks for all the joy they're bringing.”
"Hey Jude" - The Beatles // "We Major" - Kanye West
By Senior Scene Writer Charlie Kenney
College is a mosaic of individual moments — certain conversations, meals, classes and drinks that you remember better than others. It's a collage of the five minute periods when the details, for whatever reason, still hold clear in the mind four years later.
One of those moments for me happened in the “six-man” room on the third floor of Duncan Hall my sophomore year.
A room barely livable for six had found a way to house seventy, maybe eighty others for three brief hours. Throngs of half-strangers packed together, shoulder to shoulder. Sweat hung in the air, translucent trash bags covered the couch cushions and each footstep was more likely to find the crunch of aluminum than the relief of the beer-slick floor. A collective high of cheap vodka, sugary soda and a playlist over which none of us had any control — ears rung from blurred conversation and songs I can’t recall.
Then come the five minutes I do remember.
The music dies down to a whisper. The stereo ceases reverberating off the walls. Paul McCartney sings “Hey Jude” to a much less talkative crowd. A shared anxiety waits for the remix to begin — a “Bad and Bougie” mash-up of sorts. But the Beatles’ classic continues as usual for two minutes and thirty seconds. Each rasped voice waiting to sing along to the “Nah, nah, nah” chorus.
Yet, just as Paul’s baritone “better” moves towards falsetto, the walls begin to shake again, piano makes way for synth, and that familiar British voice starts a conversation with Kanye West.
Six minutes and 43 seconds of music. Two songs. A hangover the next morning. I’ll remember those parts of college.
“Come On Eileen” - Kevin Rowland and Dexys Midnight Runners
By Senior Scene Writer Caroline Lezny
In the sticky early autumn nighttime, eyes closed, shoes bouncing away from the tacky Backer floor. On a teeny technicolor boat on the Thames, swing dancing in another country with a bunch of fellow Notre Dames expats. Blasting out the windows of my roommate's car into another South Bend spring, or echoing around South Dining Hall’s SYR-repurposed top floor, or soaring over the grass as we played frisbee and ignored our schoolwork. Playing simultaneously from six Spotify accounts over Zoom while celebrating a virtual Dome Dance. No matter the occasion, the song never fails to put me in the right mood, ringing out like the anthem of college student life everywhere: “We are far too young and clever, and things won’t ever change.”
I’d never heard “Come On Eileen” before arriving at Notre Dame, but my love of 80s music and Irish culture and my burgeoning understanding of ND life hooked me onto the song right way. No matter how many times I played it, I never seemed to get tired of the unabashed way the singers take each and every chorus. I didn’t even care that I had to google the lyrics, getting tired of singing “you in that dress....” and a string of in-tune gibberish every time. The song has come to represent my understanding of Notre Dame — the community, not the campus. There is an enthusiasm and a freedom to the song (and the singing along) that can only be fully realized with one's fellow Domers. It is a fervor for life. A comfort with oneself. And an insistence on not letting a single second go by unappreciated.
Now I’m listening to “Come On Eileen” in my headphones. It reminds me of home, but it’s just not the same. I look forward to the day I can sing it again, even as an alum, to hearing that familiar accelerando, that build in tempo and key and fire that inevitably leads to the foot stomping, hair-flying, lung-bursting roaring of that chorus at any Notre Dame gathering. Because it’s our song. Notre Dame, “at this moment, you mean everything.” And you always will.
Thank you Scene. Thank you Notre Dame. Love thee now and always.