How My Morning Jacket Changed My Life

Music

It was 2006, my husband’s good friend plays the guitar and his birthday was coming up. My husband decided to get him a concert DVD of a guitarist that is well-respected but one that he may not already know. Doing a bit of Googling, Karl found My Morning Jacket and purchased Okonokos. The night of our friend’s birthday, we watched the DVD. The friend, who is more into rock and metal wasn’t too thrilled. But me… my life was forever changed.


I fell madly and passionately in love with My Morning Jacket – it was as though all the styles and genres of music I loved most were melded into one band. The sound was refreshing, engaging, unique, intense. It brought me back to my high school self.

Do you recall seeing this girl at the 9:30 Club in the late '80s and early '90s?

In high school, music defined my life. I would go to the 9:30 Club without even knowing what artist was performing, just for the rush of live music and learning new tunes. Merriweather Post Pavilion felt like my summer home. I would go to Kemp Mill Records or a record shop in Georgetown and pick albums based upon the look of the cover, sometimes buying duds and sometimes finding new favorites. Freshman year of college, I roomed with a girl who preferred R&B, and we would play “Janet” by Janet Jackson on repeat (and saw her in concert two nights in a row). I can remember hanging out in my friends Brian and Joel’s dorm room, listening to the first seconds of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” over and over to hear that Mac truck zoom on the speakers.

Then sophomore year came, and I was living off-campus, working two jobs, and rushing a sorority. Music went on the back burner, and was mainly DMB and the Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction soundtracks – essentially, whatever I heard while downing cheap beer at one of the local bars. The busier I got, the less I listened to music. I think my senior year I only purchased three CDs – Jewel, The Wallflowers, and Seven Mary Three. When I entered the retail world after college, music was the two-hour playlist that corporate sent us once a month – to this day I know all the lyrics to most any pop Christmas song (or anything retailers considered a holiday song, such as this one). I would usually drive to work with the radio off, trying to have a moment of calm before the insanity that is a shopping mall.

When I left the apparel world, I went into an office setting, where I had more time to listen to music. At first, I started with popular FM-radio music, but learned about a few new artists thanks to coworkers. I downloaded iTunes and got an iPod in 2005 and bought a few “best alternative songs of the year” compilations to try to learn about what was out there that I couldn’t hear on VH1 or DC101. And then I saw Okonokos and I realized that the years where I didn’t really have music in my life were years where I just didn’t feel right… feel like myself. I always felt transient, disconnected, unsure of myself. This was seen in what I wore, how I spent my downtime, even how I performed at work.

I even went to Bonnaroo when I was pregnant – one of my best Roo experiences!

I researched My Morning Jacket after that night of Okonokos, and through that, learned about the Bonnaroo Music Festival. I also found Inforoo, a forum dedicated to those who attend Bonnaroo, and through that learned about so many other artists (and amazing people who lived for live music). Me, my husband, sister, and that guitarist friend went to Bonnaroo together in 2007 where we saw artists from pretty much every genre under the sun perform live and blow our socks off. We have been to Bonnaroo several times since, and this year will be going to Forecastle, a music festival where My Morning Jacket is the curator and headliner.

Me & my husband tailgating before the 2011 MMJ show at Merriweather Post Pavilion

Since then, music is again a major part of my life. Since having Emerson, concerts are the way that my husband and I enjoy a monthly date night. We have playlists for cooking breakfast on a Sunday morning, and a different one for when we eat the meal. The latest issue of Rolling Stone is read before Elle or Bazaar, and we’re always on the hunt for new artists to add to the iPod. Music defines the good moments, and helps get through the bad. There is a soundtrack for all aspects of my life, and it makes each event fuller and more colorful. Music has introduced me to some of the most amazing people, and is a wonderful art I can share with my child. Music has helped me come back to who I really am… and if it weren’t for My Morning Jacket I may still be lost.

What do you have in your life to keep your grounded and true to yourself? Have you ever felt as though you got off track, and what did you do to get back?

Note: To remember which Metallica song we listened to back in college, I asked my friends on Facebook. Brought back many memories, and my friend Joel said I had to mention my haircut from that period in time, which was long and relatively normal, but shaved in back underneath.  He said I was, “the safest bad ass” he knew at that time, and I take that as a major compliment.

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18 Comments

18 Comments

  • SunDapple January 11, 2016

    What a great post! I’m with you sistah, live music makes me grin from ear to ear for hours!

  • Forecastle 2012 Recap - Wardrobe Oxygen June 19, 2015

    […] the storm wasn’t going anywhere, but instead of cancelling and disappointing their biggest fans, My Morning Jacket gave us a special treat – they came to us! Jim James and team walked over to our group under the […]

  • Reece March 16, 2014

    I love My Morning Jacket! Best band ever for me.

  • Elena Salinas May 6, 2012

    Thanks for sharing the band!
    I love love love music, it’s been always a very important part of my life.

    Greetings from Mexico City

    Elena

  • Elena Salinas May 5, 2012

    Thanks for sharing the band!
    I love love love music, it’s been always a very important part of my life.

    Greetings from Mexico City

    Elena

  • shoehoard May 3, 2012

    Music is a huge part of my and my husband’s life. He has terabytes of music! Me, I’m an alternative girl at heart and have never really deviated from that style. Although I do feel rather grown up when I listen to jazz and drink red wine. LOL! In middle school, my stepfather would bring home Yaz, Soft Cell, and other alternative albums. I started listening to the Violent Femmes and New Order in 8th grade. I went to alternative teen dance clubs every weekend. And when things happen in my life or too much change takes place (like this week), I turn to music to keep me grounded.
    Niki
    http://www.fashionatforty.blogspot.com

  • shoehoard May 3, 2012

    Music is a huge part of my and my husband’s life. He has terabytes of music! Me, I’m an alternative girl at heart and have never really deviated from that style. Although I do feel rather grown up when I listen to jazz and drink red wine. LOL! In middle school, my stepfather would bring home Yaz, Soft Cell, and other alternative albums. I started listening to the Violent Femmes and New Order in 8th grade. I went to alternative teen dance clubs every weekend. And when things happen in my life or too much change takes place (like this week), I turn to music to keep me grounded.
    Niki
    http://www.fashionatforty.blogspot.com

  • ihartsnowyo May 3, 2012

    Thanks for a new band recommendation! I just returned from The Rock Boat XII (highly recommend it, by the way) and discovered Red Wanting Blue and The Damnwells. I can relate to your story SO well.

  • ihartsnowyo May 2, 2012

    Thanks for a new band recommendation! I just returned from The Rock Boat XII (highly recommend it, by the way) and discovered Red Wanting Blue and The Damnwells. I can relate to your story SO well.

  • Sarah May 2, 2012

    I love My Morning Jacket!! I fell in love with Okonokos and have been a diehard fan ever since. Jim James is kind of nut but their music just does it for me. It may be because I rented a house with a pool one summer and spent every sunny free hour I had laying on a float and relaxing to Evil Urges…Their music just transports me to a better place. Even when I am stuck in traffic or dying of boredom at work, when one of their songs comes on my whole outlook on life changes. So glad to know that you are also a fan!

    FYI – I really love the Monsters of Folk collaboration Jim James did with Connor Oberst and M. Ward too. You’ve probably heard their music but if not, I highly recommend it!

  • Sarah May 2, 2012

    I love My Morning Jacket!! I fell in love with Okonokos and have been a diehard fan ever since. Jim James is kind of nut but their music just does it for me. It may be because I rented a house with a pool one summer and spent every sunny free hour I had laying on a float and relaxing to Evil Urges…Their music just transports me to a better place. Even when I am stuck in traffic or dying of boredom at work, when one of their songs comes on my whole outlook on life changes. So glad to know that you are also a fan!

    FYI – I really love the Monsters of Folk collaboration Jim James did with Connor Oberst and M. Ward too. You’ve probably heard their music but if not, I highly recommend it!

  • Grace Mitchell May 2, 2012

    Allie, this is an amazing post. LOVE it.

    We have pretty different tastes (though some overlaps, I think), but I feel very similarly about music. I really, really miss live music. I haven’t been to any concerts in absolute ages. And it does feel like part of me is missing.

  • Grace Mitchell May 2, 2012

    Allie, this is an amazing post. LOVE it.

    We have pretty different tastes (though some overlaps, I think), but I feel very similarly about music. I really, really miss live music. I haven’t been to any concerts in absolute ages. And it does feel like part of me is missing.

  • mozgirl1 May 2, 2012

    Tool – NIN – The Smiths – Morrissey
    However, my heart belongs to Led Zeppelin

  • Morgan May 2, 2012

    Ohmygod, I saw Seven Mary Three at a concert at a local college when I was about 14. I thought it was the most grown up thing I’d ever done or thought of doing, but I had completely forgotten this until I saw your post. Good memories!

    Music is very close to my heart as well. I’ve always been the girl who listened to the “weird music.” In high school, it was alternative stuff. I was the only kid in my tiny school that wore the JNCO’s and the dark Hard Candy lipstick and the SP Zero shirts. I lost track of music again when I was in college, although I did get well acquainted with David Bowie and saw him in concert a few times. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found myself falling into the more adult alternative stuff (I listen to a lot of The Spectrum on XM) and it always takes me back to being that weird kid again and getting hooked on the raw emotion in the music. My husband says I only like music if it is depressing, and maybe that’s true. But it always speaks to me and strangely, makes me feel good.

    Also reading. I have my set passages in favorite books that I go to when I need it. A Confederacy of Dunces makes me giggle, poetry by Yeats always hits me differently and makes me think. And it centers me, no matter what.

    And lastly, baseball. I can be having the crappiest day imaginable, but if I turn on a game, I’m the kid, listening to the Yankees with her grandfather, getting excited about a 6-4-3 double play. Everything else just fades and the artistry of the game is just there and it is very pure.

    Sorry so long! I blame Seven Mary Three for opening the floodgates. 🙂

  • Morgan May 2, 2012

    Ohmygod, I saw Seven Mary Three at a concert at a local college when I was about 14. I thought it was the most grown up thing I’d ever done or thought of doing, but I had completely forgotten this until I saw your post. Good memories!

    Music is very close to my heart as well. I’ve always been the girl who listened to the “weird music.” In high school, it was alternative stuff. I was the only kid in my tiny school that wore the JNCO’s and the dark Hard Candy lipstick and the SP Zero shirts. I lost track of music again when I was in college, although I did get well acquainted with David Bowie and saw him in concert a few times. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found myself falling into the more adult alternative stuff (I listen to a lot of The Spectrum on XM) and it always takes me back to being that weird kid again and getting hooked on the raw emotion in the music. My husband says I only like music if it is depressing, and maybe that’s true. But it always speaks to me and strangely, makes me feel good.

    Also reading. I have my set passages in favorite books that I go to when I need it. A Confederacy of Dunces makes me giggle, poetry by Yeats always hits me differently and makes me think. And it centers me, no matter what.

    And lastly, baseball. I can be having the crappiest day imaginable, but if I turn on a game, I’m the kid, listening to the Yankees with her grandfather, getting excited about a 6-4-3 double play. Everything else just fades and the artistry of the game is just there and it is very pure.

    Sorry so long! I blame Seven Mary Three for opening the floodgates. 🙂

  • Sara A. May 2, 2012

    I’m a 7 time Roo attender and will be seeing MMJ this weekend at the Beale Street Music Fest in Memphis! Nothing fills my soul like live music and I’m glad to hear you will be passing your love of music onto Emerson 🙂

  • Sara A. May 2, 2012

    I’m a 7 time Roo attender and will be seeing MMJ this weekend at the Beale Street Music Fest in Memphis! Nothing fills my soul like live music and I’m glad to hear you will be passing your love of music onto Emerson 🙂

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