Karla Clifton’s Fond Farewell

Karla Clifton
3 min readDec 29, 2023
Photo by Jason Rosewell from Unsplash.

There were a few reasons I started this maniacal, ill-advised, ridiculous project that absolutely nobody on the planet asked for, and the truth is this: They were all kind of dumb.

Why did I do this? WHY would I do this to myself? WHY did I think this was a good idea?! It would be obvious to say that I did it to learn more about music. That I love it, and enjoy it, and wanted to expand my sonic horizons. That I wanted an excuse to be an even more annoying person when the radio turns on.

But the truth is that music is how I remember my life.

Snapshot, 2023: Me at Christmas, driving my family crazy by saying “Phil Spector produced this” every time “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” came on. I actually got Phil Spector banned from our family Christmas playlist.

Snapshot, 2004: Me at fourth grade field day, hearing “American Idiot” for the first time. Getting two Green Day CDs from my mom a few days later, and wearing out the lyric books.

Snapshot, 2017: Me and my family in France, and me with a Beatles playlist downloaded to my iPhone. I was the only one who thought to download any music, so I played the Beatles constantly. My Dad sang along to “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” to keep himself awake as we drove to the hotel. My sister finally revolted at “Ticket to Ride.”

Snapshot, 2020: Me driving through Kansas and listening to James Brown, only James Brown, nothing else, for six straight hours, James Brown, teaching me patience.

Snapshot, 2010: Me at sixteen, driving around in my first car, listening to Nirvana’s In Utero so often that I scratch it and it becomes unlistenable.

Snapshot, 2018: Me moving into my first apartment, listening to every Fugees album, then every Lauryn Hill album, while I unpack. Me defending Lauryn’s controversial Unplugged album. Me driving my new boyfriend crazy with “Vocab.”

Snapshot, 2015: Me taking the bus to my college’s satellite campus, listening to Oasis’ (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? so often that I could sing it backwards. (Flashforward, 2023: Me at Christmas, receiving that album on vinyl, because my mom read my glowing review.)

Snapshot, 2020: Me playing “Amazing Grace” at my Nana’s funeral.

Something interesting: music history is shorter than we sometimes think. At least in terms of recorded music. The earliest artist that made the RS 500 list was Robert Johnson, who recorded in the mid-1930s. That’s less than a hundred years ago. But we’ve been making music since the beginning of time, since a caveman banged a stick against a rock and started grunting.

How did they remember things, back then, when they couldn’t even scrawl down the events of their day in a diary? I would guess that even then, the music they made together ended up stuck in their heads, and they looked across the fire at the people they were with and thought (in their primitive, languageless way) Yes, I will remember these people, this night, forever.

Something else interesting: life, also, is shorter than we sometimes think.

Final Fun Fact: I will be spending the next three years listening to music and not writing about it AT ALL.

(Unless I really want to.)