One of the things I love about music is that it’s possible to discover new music through so many different means, and the source of it shapes how I feel about the song, album, or artist in some way. For example, if a good friend has introduced me to a song, I’ll associate the song with them; if I discover an artist through seeing them in concert, listening to their music brings that concert experience to mind; even if I just randomly stumble upon music somehow, whatever led me there is something I recall when I listen to it. It gives a personal, individualized meaning and story to everyone’s music library.
My primary means of discovering music of late has been through music used on TV shows, namely Scrubs. I’ve seen the show many times all the way through now, but it seems every time I go through it again, I stumble upon songs that click with me when they had not before. This not only creates this individualized memory of how I came upon the song (and oftentimes, how I came to discover a whole artist through that single song), but whatever scene the song is playing over within the show also contributes to that. I love that dynamic, because on top of whatever personal emotions and experiences I have with the song, an entirely separate set of emotions comes with it through its placement in the show.
I could probably write an entire blog on how well Scrubs uses music and how much good music the show uses, and may in fact do so at some point in time. But for now, I’ll focus on one of my more recent Scrubs-inspired findings: “Goodnight Song” by indie rock band Tammany Hall NYC. In its placement in the season eight episode “My Cuz,” it layers over a set of scenes in which change occurs; one of the scenes is merely a positive change coming forward, while the other two represent a wistful realization of unhappiness that leads to a desire for change. Though the lyrics do not precisely parallel this, the mellowness of the song matches perfectly with the tone of the scenes, amplifying the emotions in the show.
Taken in itself, the title of the song just about sums it up; “Goodnight Song” is lullaby-esque, consisting primarily of soft acoustic guitar and quiet vocals, accompanied by piano and some echoed guitar plucks as the song moves along. The lyrics are introspective, with the narrator seeming to be confused or lost and looking to become grounded again through sleep; each verse begins in parallel, declaring what the narrator will accomplish “in a night.” The chorus goes on to say that “some answers come from dreaming.” The lyrics’ expression of this is strengthened by the fact that the song’s soft timbre and reflective tone perfectly match the mood of lying in bed in those final moments before sleep takes over.
As the album closer of Tammany Hall NYC’s 2005 album Marathon, it shines even better. The calm introspection that represents an ending to a day fits perfectly at the end of an album, making for a gradual closing that leaves you wanting more. But whether you’re listening to it in its context in the entire album or not, or observing it in its use within Scrubs, it’s a soothing, melodic, and powerful piece of music.