Somehow, Copeland Still Sounds Like Falling in Love at Sixteen

This could be an album review if I wrote it two years ago. But in 2015, I believed any music I liked in 2008 wouldn’t fit my new grownup tastes. I’m here to tell you I was wrong this entire time and I neither never grew up or 21-year-old Laken was a real snob. So if you’re looking for specific info in Ixora, you’re just as late as me.

On my last post, I talked about a specific style of music I collect for those lay-on-the-office-floor-and-breathe days. This album by Caspian still reigns supreme and is probably the most-played album on my Spotify library. It’s the perfect length—clocking in at 34 minutes for six tracks—for a quick mid-day unwind, but not for a winter night Mary Karr reading date. This is where Spotify’s Album Radio takes over.

I don’t know the algorithm Spotify uses to determine this queue—is it based on album genre or artist? does Spotify determine what I’d like or is it pulled from other users’ trends? is it based on my own listening history or is a tiny troll in a dark office somewhere hand-selecting tracks for little ol’ me?—but I choose to believe it was nothing shy of divine intervention that brought me back to Copeland.

All I needed was this song to transport me to small town high school romance, probably remembered more perfectly than it even happened.

I was disgustingly lucky to have that idyllic first love, though teenage flings in the grand scheme of things hardly count as relationships: there were many parts of my personality still dormant and I was very opposed to being “tied down” before I even went to college (still true six years later at another college, proving yet again little has changed). But he was a living, breathing standard that was set very high from the beginning. Many people my age had Edward Cullen or love interests from TV shows I didn’t watch; I had a 17-year-old in 2011.

Only by writing this did I even remember he was the one who introduced me to Copeland; the song above I’m pretty sure was his favorite (he also worked at a coffee shop and played Mumford & Sons on his melodica. Looking back, this makes a lot of sense). I don’t spend much time dwelling on this relationship as an adult. I can say with utmost confidence we have both grown up and moved on.

But the theme of my 23rd year has been a search for that feeling I had in Poteau, Oklahoma, in the winter of 2011. I know it exists from the glimpses I’ve recently seen: driving I-25 southbound at night past downtown Denver, any dirt road after drinking beer and kissing someone new, Christmas lights at 5:30 dusk, listening to Copeland’s newest album.

Copeland has been on repeat for days and it’s the most effective self-medication I’ve ever seen. It has to do with so much more than a past love—whom I’m thankful to look back on fondly and truly wish well—it’s a comfort of home and self that I took for granted before. There are some parts of my teenage self I’ve lost and I want to recover: a hopeless love for books is first, and that emotional bravery is second. That’s a lot of pressure to put on a modern rock band that doesn’t even know my name.

I constantly wonder, if 16-year-old Laken could look to the future and see me now, would she be appalled? I didn’t follow the guidelines I set for myself then (I broke that Say No to Drugs and Alcohol contract quick) and a lot of my interests are ones I vehemently opposed before—yet are the very ones my high school boyfriend introduced me to. The things he liked and wanted me to like didn’t fit this image I had of myself, yet they’re the first descriptors people know of me: I despised beer and coffee, and now that’s all I want; I had a very strict view of spirituality that clashed with his, but now that’s gone; I finally listened to and fell in love with Mumford & Sons two years after him; I play Copeland nonstop in 2017.

I still have part of the Christmas gift he gave me and the corsage from our junior prom. I don’t consider myself overly sentimental—for a long time I wasn’t sure why I kept them—but I am a sucker for symbols. At sixteen, I hadn’t given myself much credit. I believed I was too young for most things (for commitment yes, but not love as it turns out) and ashamed of how much I had yet to grow, but I was far less lost than I felt.


I’ve been watching a lot of coming-of-age movies lately. That has to be what caused this.

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