Memory is a powerful force. Sometimes memory is triggered by a song, a lyric or a melody, creating a feeling and a scene as vivid as the moment it happened. That’s what emerged when students wrote Song Essays for my Composition II class at the Institute of American Indian Arts in the spring of 2020.
I watched them dip their buckets deep into wells of memory to create stories about times that have been painful, challenging, rewarding or even baffling.
As with the other writings in this Anthology, “Remembering What We carry,” each story is unique. Details and descriptions do much of the heavy lifting, as students carve a niche in the long timeline of stories about life on earth.
Through the IAIA students’ own voices, we discover a healing story during the Spanish Flu pandemic a century ago in Hokian Win McCloud’s essay about Jingle Dancing. Charmaine Kinale paints a picture of a song that gave her a lifeline when she and her mother were homeless. Willard Chaschee explains how “Sissy That Walk” helped him uncover new arenas in his creative side.
Greg Ebona’s “Sleepless on 509” invites listeners to hop aboard his commuter train and slip on his headphones to experience Yung Pinch’s “Hell on Earth.” Davina Millay Gomez beckons us to walk beside her as she describes a powerful yet soothing song that supports her when the road gets rough. KamiJo Whiteclay reveals how “November Rain” by Guns N’ Roses saved her life. Matthew Stout takes us on a drive to show how “Same Love” supported a life-changing decision. And Jacqueline Yepa escorts us into a Mosh Pit during her first Anthrax concert.
It’s quite a sensory, heartfelt array. We invite you to savor the eight Song Essays in “A Song to Remember” and take a journey through musical narratives that may remind you of your own musical memories. While each of us has our own path, what we carry on the journey can and does make all the difference.
Radio IAIA at the Institute of American Indian Arts