Scene-ior Selections 2021
It’s not a goodbye — it’s a see you later.
Here, our Senior Scene Writers reflect on their time at Scene, The Observer and the tri-campus community the only way they know how: music.
“One Trick Ponies” — Kurt Vile
By Ryan Israel, Senior Scene Writer
There are more than a few songs about friendship — see “All My Friends” among others — but only one of them begins with a simple “Awwwww, shit.”
I cannot say it better than Kurt Vile can. To my friends, Scene and beyond: “Loved them all through many a lifetime / Some are gone but some still strong / Some are weird as hell but we love ‘em / Some are one trick ponies but we embrace ‘em / ‘Cause I’ve always had a soft spot for repetition.”
On repetition, it’s drinking the same beer every night of the weekend (Hamm’s), playing the same video games (Fortnite, Rock Band) and drinking games (pong, die), going to the same bars (Olfs, Corby’s) and having the same conversations.
It doesn’t get old because of the people, all of us one trick ponies.
There’s another Kurt Vile lyric, this one from his almost ten-minute track “Bassackwards,” that goes: “I was on the beach, but I was thinking about the bay.” It’s that idea of worrying so much about the future that you’re not enjoying the present. I’ve done this a fair share, stressing over internships or my “career” instead of living in the moment. But I think, for the most part, I’ve kept my mind on the beach, enjoying every last minute I’ve had here. It’s nice here.
“Friday I’m in Love” — The Cure
By Claire Rafford, Senior Scene Writer
I texted my dad during finals week my first semester of college asking for music recs. “What do u have?” I asked. He replied with “The Cure.” And so began my love affair with “Friday I’m in Love, from their 1992 album “Wish.”
The band’s lead singer, Robert Smith, described “Friday I’m in Love” as a “dumb pop song.” But it’s a really dumb good pop song. In fact, I love dumb pop songs — almost as much as I love Fridays. I’ve played this particular “Friday” song probably upwards of 1000 times since December 2017 — on runs snaking around Saint Mary’s Lake, plodding to class in snow, rain or shine, blasting from The Observer back computer at 3 a.m. and probably even at a pregame or two. It’s been one of the constants over the course of my ever-changing college experience.
“Friday I’m in Love” is about living for the weekend — “Monday you can fall apart / Tuesday, Wednesday break my heart / Oh, Thursday doesn’t even start / It’s Friday, I’m in love.” Sometimes, college feels like that — just needing to get through the week. But that Friday feeling of hope is more than just a few hours at the start of the weekend. It’s the moments we discover that help us get through the hard days and make the good days even better. It’s movie nights with friends; it’s lounging on the quad on a perfect sunny afternoon — and for me, it’s been writing about everything from Taylor Swift to TikTok for Scene, and the friendship I’ve found with my co-writers and co-workers at The Observer.
After all, what is college if not just a cycle of days and weeks and, eventually, years? It’s what you do with that short time, all the moments that make up those days in between that really count.
For me, what the song says is true: “You can never get enough, enough of this stuff.” I would do a lot for more Friday nights in college, along with more moments of that golden Friday feeling in this place. But for now, I’m going to enjoy the ones I have left, embracing the feeling of being in love with life, with my friends, on a Friday, in South Bend.
“Dance Yrself Clean” — LCD Soundsystem
By Mariah Rush, Senior Scene Writer
I often find myself skipping the first and last few minutes of this song, trying to live only in the few electrifying upbeat minutes that exist in the middle.
Life, like this almost nine-minute song, is long. This year leading The Observer has felt excruciatingly long.
“Present company accepting / Presently we all expect the worst / It works just like a need”
Expecting the worst from this year felt… expected.
So I’ve decided that life is far too long to not spend the time we do have gushing — and writing — about the things we love. To me, joining Scene meant finding the place where I, along with my frequent co-writers in crime, could spew words that were sometimes unpopular, always maniacal and never not heartfelt. Every co-written and co-schemed Scene endeavor made me fall more in love with my friends, with life and with word vomiting.
“I miss the way the night comes / With friends who always make it feel good”
No matter how irrelevant (manifestos on “Glee,” over a decade late), how overplayed (defenses of “drivers license”) and obviously fan-girled (“Palm Springs”/Andy Samberg and HAIM love letters), Scene welcomed me with open arms when I deeply needed an escape from the never-ending drama of this year. It allowed me to, if I may — dance myself clean. I’m trying not to skip those rising and falling action minutes of “Dance Yrself Clean.” It’s a long song, but I think it’s worth it.
“Everybody’s getting younger / It’s the end of an era, it’s true”
“Bike Dream” — Rostam
By Colleen Fischer, Senior Scene Writer
Vampire Weekend’s discography has provided the defining soundtrack for my college experience. The band’s original trilogy covers many impactful college experiences, whether they be discovering a pretentious but sincere hatred for capitalism, questioning your religion or watching all your artist friends become businessmen and businesswomen amidst a recession. If the original Vampire Weekend trilogy covers the anxieties of college life with the wit and literary devices of an English major, Rostam’s debut album offers reassurance that getting older and growing apart from your friends doesn’t mean unhappiness — in reality, it’s quite the opposite.
If you walk by Holy Cross on a particularly nice day, you might hear this song blasting out of a fourth floor window, or you might see my friends and me watching Rostam’s new video (waiting for Wallows to show up, but loving the song, too). There are plenty of versions and remixes of this song that offer different tones for different people or even for the same person in different moods. (If you listen to the song, that’s kind of funny, I promise.)
If you have nine minutes to spare — driving from Notre Dame to Saint Mary’s, or from Culver’s to your dorm — playing Obvious Bicycle by Vampire Weekend and then Bike Dream back-to-back is a trip. Rostam produced the drum parts for the two songs within about a week of one another, but the half-decade between their releases creates a unique perspective. In a way, Bike Dream’s upbeat drums and colorful synth sound begs nostalgia, while Rostam’s vocals, which occasionally verge on laughter, remind me that things will be okay, no matter what I decide or what happens in the next couple of years. It’s okay to look back on my life and see better paths while still being happy with the one I end up choosing. Leaving college means giving up a lot of my creative outlets — such as, sadly, writing for Scene — but “Bike Dream” reminds me there is always a way to make new ones and to forge my own path. That, and it’s always a crowdpleaser on the aux, its lyrics always catchy and only sometimes sad.
Thank you to Brynne for being willing to talk about the relationship between these songs for hours and hours over the course of this semester. It means the world to me.
“Old Friends” — Pinegrove
By Maeve Filbin, Senior Scene Writer
As if I needed another reminder that senior year is coming to an end — “Old Friends” by Pinegrove gave me one anyway. How many of our college nights were spent walking out in the nighttime springtime, lightly buzzing from warm beer and newfound friendship?
“I know this town grounded in a compass” because I spent four years wandering the same paths (to Le Mans, to the Grotto, to the football stadium, to Willis Street, to the Observer office) with my favorite people.
This song is about saying what you mean in the moment — not without fear, but despite it — something I’ve done, or at least tried to do. It’s about taking the time to acknowledge the people who have stepped into your life and stayed, even if only for a while.
“I should call my parents when I think of them / Should tell my friends when I love them.”
Pinegrove frontman Evan Stephens Hall wrote “Old Friends” about someone he once knew. He met her through a friend and harbored a distant crush. She died suddenly, tragically, before he could share his true feelings. It was a cruel reminder that nothing is promised beyond the present — much like the circumstances of the past year — but a reminder nonetheless.
“We don’t have much time,” Hall said in a 2018 Pitchfork interview. He was speaking about life, and I suppose I am, too. But four years feels really short as the class of 2021 enters our last couple of weeks together.
To my friends — old and new, Saint Mary’s and Scene — if you needed a reminder: I love you, I love you, I love you.
“Guys” — The 1975
By Dessi Gomez, Senior Scene Writer
Any song by The 1975 makes me think of Scene, but if we’re looking for sentimental, emo-extremo ones, “Guys” takes the cake. As I listen to it, I see a montage of Thursday nights spent copy editing in the basement of South Dining Hall. Some highlights include, but are not limited to: training with Scene alumnus Carlos De Loera and waiting until midnight for the “ME!” music video to come out and ordering Insomnia Cookies in anticipation.
The matter-of-fact, stream-of-consciousness lyrics sung by Matty Healy convey how I will miss Scene next year in a logical, sensible way because it was such a big part of my life at Notre Dame. At the end of long weeks, I always looked forward to Thursday night shifts at the Scene copy desk, where I could zone out while my junior year roommate and two-year consecutive editor Diane Park made the graphics for the articles I proofread.
Scene strengthened some friendships that were already forming when I joined. I am so glad I found it as an extracurricular activity where I could nerd out about books, music, television shows and movies with like-minded individuals. Just as Matty croons in the chorus of “Guys,” “You guys are the best thing that ever happened to me.”