Music and the College Experience

Fall break is right around the corner, and that means some of our students will be embarking on road trips – either near or far – to head to their own home or maybe a roommate or friend’s home.  And some of my fondest memories of Fall Break and other long weekends was heading to my roommate/best friend’s house in the mountains.

We had a ritual.  It was the late 80s, and U2 had just released Rattle and Hum, the live album that chronicled their Joshua Tree tour.  My best friend and I would pop the tape in the cassette deck (yes, all this before iPods or even CD players being ubiquitous in cars) and our drive up 421 towards the mountains was punctuated by the ebb and flow of the songs, Bono’s wild and wonderful voice and the Edge’s great guitar work with a lot of reverb on it, as well as the rest of the band.  Almost at the end of the drive, the final song, “All I Want Is You” would come on – and it was quieter, almost a lullaby, and it seemed very appropriate that a song so gentle would be what we heard about the time we drove up to her happy home.  Where her mom would be waiting for us with hugs and good homecooked food and lots of peace and happiness.

I was talking to a friend yesterday about college music – the bands and songs that defined your time in college.  It could be fast songs you danced to at parties, “mood music” you hoped would create the right atmosphere for that special person you liked, driving songs for road trips, songs you always listened to when exercising (back when we all had Walkmans – in the Dark Ages!), or songs that pumped you up for studying and got you energized to focus.

And when you hear those bands or those songs now, maybe just the sound of them makes you stop and pause.  Perhaps that college music takes you back to happy days, good memories of simpler times in your life.  When college meant you had a lot of friends, a lot of fun, a lot of free time, and none of the worries or mortgages and jobs and children to raise and nurture.

Depending on when you graduated – and where you went to school – your college music may have been more national or more regional, but I bet if you thought about it you could name the ones that stick out to you.  If you’re willing to share, I’d love to hear the parent perspective of what were the seminal artists and songs from your college years.  You could email them to us at

For Wake Forest in the late 80s and early 90s, some of those bands were better known than others.  Ziggy’s, our local live music venue, frequently featured bands such as Hootie and the Blowfish, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Drivin and Cryin, the Sex Police, Dave Matthews, Public Enemy, and many more.  I was talking to a friend from college yesterday and we both remembered listening to the Cowboy Junkies, which also seemed to get a lot of play.

I don’t have a clue right now about what the important college music is to your students.  I have a couple of inquiries out to a few ’12 grads that I know and trust, and hopefully they can give me some guidance – and I’ll update what I find.  I am praying the answer is not Justin Bieber : )

Deac parents and families – if you want to take a little walk down memory lane today, go to your iPod or Spotify or your CD collection and pull out some of your college favorites.  Listen and see how they make you feel.

Updates from my younger cohorts on campus on music that is popular right now for Wake students:

One more night – Maroon 5
Gangnam Style – PSY
Some Nights – Fun.
Mumford and Sons (this got 2 mentions from my sources)
The recent Kayne/Jay-Z collaborations
Dubstep (this got 2 mentions from my sources)
House music/remixes are always playing at parties

And I also received some input from an anonymous parent – this might jog some memories for some of you!  If you have thoughts you want to share, send them to and we’ll add them, too!

Although I did not attend Wake, I think many of us, regardless of college affiliation, can attest that the late 70s were a time of challenge in music.
So much seminal music abounded, with the emergence of Springsteen, the downslide of Motown, and emerging punk scene, country rock, and even disco, which was almost banned on my campus.  Even the Stones momentarily toyed with disco beats on some songs like  Miss You.

Popular country rock bands of the time were Marshall Tucker Band, Lynrd Skynrd, The Outlaws, Pure Prairie League, Eagles.   The Bee Gees were on every DJ’s must play list, as was KC and The Sunshine Band and it was good dancing tunes, but good Lord, the outfits!  To this day, I recall spring break, driving from upstate NY with 3 other guys in a borrowed Ford station, wagon, winding down I-95 to the tunes of the Eagles “Life in the Fast Lane”, and Hotel California, all the way to Daytona Beach……and back.  Eight tracks ruled the day, when they worked.    Clubs spun records ( the vinyl kind) and kids wore torn bell bottom jeans and Frye boots, even in the heat of spring break in Florida.  Gals wore halter tops and hip huggers.

Today, I reminisce when I hear a song from college. I even emailed my closest college buddies last week when a nostalgic song played on my office Bose radio.  We emailed back and forth, chuckling over some seemingly significance to the music, but in truth, it bound us in some way that still lingers on.

Today, I can honestly say that  music binds our family, near and far. Although none of us are connected to the music industry, we all love to
connect with each other when a song or artist brings us nearer.  As parents, we are amazed that our children (21,24) attend concerts with us every year….ok, mostly Springsteen, but it’s a personal thing in our family….but the ability to share music with your children, and appreciate
the sentiment and emotion of the artist, is a remarkable and moving experience that we will cherish forever.

Music…the ties that bind.

Anonymous Dad of a ’13 student

Categories: campus life