When I was 13 years of age, I stayed for a summer with my other mother. We didn’t have much as she had just moved to a new city and was still trying to get settled. She had a job and a nice house but there was little left over to make ends meet. I remember sleeping on a futon mattress on the floor and saving pennies to afford cheeseburgers at McDonalds because they were only 39 cents at the time. Another memory I remember is staying up late. My mother didn’t care if I stood up late and often times I did as she would work the graveyard shift at the local newspaper. She was a manager and would be in charge of making sure people went out to deliver the papers. More often than not, someone would flake out and she would be stuck doing their route and I would come along to help but that’s another story…
The days that things went smoothly, I usually would stay up and either watch music videos on MTV or VH1 or play video games. At the time, I only had one system at the time: a Super Nintendo. What’s cool is there was a retro video game store close to where my mother lived and I would buy SNES games there all the time because they were super cheap. Music was quickly becoming a bigger part of my life and while playing games I started listening to music at the same time. I would just mute the TV and turn my little stereo on or play a CD.
To this day, I distinctively remember one night specifically. It was another night, I was up late again, and all by myself in the house while my mother worked. I was playing Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island and I was playing a Rod Stewart CD. It was really one of those moments when your brain just stops for a moment, takes its time soaking in the moment and takes a mental image. To this day I remember controlling Yoshi in a sparkling underground cave with a lot of coins while “Every Picture Tells A Story” played in the background. The title of the song being repeated over and over as the singers and the band grow in volume and numbers. Every picture tells a story, don’t it? Every Picture Tells A Story, Don’t It? EVERY PICTURE TELLS A STORY, DON’T IT?
To this day, that remains one of my fondest memories of both video games and music. However, it isn’t my only memory of games and music combined, nor is it my first. Whenever I listen to Dave Matthews Band, specifically the Crash album, I think of Spyro the Dragon and how I beat the game when the album ended. Saints Row reminds me of Alkaline Trio because I was listening to a few of their albums while I was around the middle of the game. One really fond memory of mine is discovering The Beatles’ Revolver album while playing the third level in Phantasy Star Online for the Dreamcast. That was around the time I was discovering how amazing the Dreamcast was. I don’t have any specific memory of Vigilante 8 but the game had a feature that let you take out the game disc while playing and put in a music CD to listen to while in combat. I used to do this all the time, as Vigilante 8 was one of my favorite games back in the PlayStation days.
To be clear, I don’t listen to other music because I don’t like the music in the game. Sometimes it is, but usually it’s because I want to listen to something else. In terms of video game music, the first soundtrack I got was when I bought Killer Instinct brand new for the SNES at Best Buy and it came with a soundtrack CD, a disc I still own (although I lost the sleeve). During the late 90s, I would listen to the songs from the games on the music player built into the system. Battle Arena Toshinden, Twisted Metal III, Sonic 3D Blast, Sonic Adventure, the list goes on. When I finally completed Chrono Cross – which was in 2005 – I went online to Amazon and bought the Chrono Cross soundtrack based mostly on my love for the song that plays when you are on the world map in Another World. Music means a lot to me, just as much as video games do and when I have the two combined, I just smile. I wonder if anyone else matches music with video games in terms of a sensory trigger for reminiscing.