Friday, June 3, 2011

Do you remember the 21st night of September....

So for some of you of a certain age you are now humming along to a song that has been tucked away in your memory banks just waiting to bust out. For the rest of you it's a song lyric Youtube it.

There is a soundtrack that runs through your life and sometimes you are really aware of it and sometimes you aren't. Songs and memory for me are odd things. There are songs that remind me of a specific place and time, maybe the first place I heard the song, maybe a time when the song lyrics FINALLY made sense. Or maybe it's a song that I always heard in one place so now hearing it takes me right back there.

The opening Ooga Chugas from "Hooked on a Feeling" make me crave pizza. There was this little Italian restaurant near our church when I was maybe 6 or 7 (later it became a German restaurant, I am sure there is a joke in there somewhere) and we would go there for pizza and spaghetti after church and my sister and brother would load up the juke box. "Hooked on a Feeling" was one and "Seasons in the Sun" was another that were sure to get airplay. Now at 6 I loved the Ooga Chugas but HATED "Seasons in the Sun". I have been on a rediscovery tour lately of things that I have automatically disliked just because my sister liked them, the color pink for instance, so when "Seasons in the Sun" came on the 70s channel the other day I made myself listen to the whole thing. I just want to report that it had nothing to do with my sister. That song is still horrible. :-)

P!nk's song "Who Knew?" came out around the time Jack died. There are times when I will be singing along to it and all of the emotion from that time comes back and hits me again full force. Blue October has a song that I love and Brent and Christopher are not fans of and couldn't figure out why I liked it. It's a bit whiny for my usual taste. But the lyrics touch me. It's a love song, or a break up song, but the metaphor they used was drowning. Since I did almost drown the lines, "Not knowing how to think I scream aloud, begin to sink My legs and arms are broken down With envy for the solid ground" gave me chills the first time I heard them. And sometimes that's all it takes. Some touch point in the song that resonates with you and all of a sudden it's part of your story.

"Dog and Butterfly" by Heart is one that takes me back to my brother John and sister Ann's house. They would let me listen to their records. This was a big deal. I was pretty young and could have easily scratched them up and ruined them, but they trusted me. And they were so cool. They had Heart and Fleetwood Mac and tons of things that Mom wouldn't have approved of. And I got to listen to it all. The pictures that a 10 year old can conjure up to the lyrics of "Dog and Butterfly" would rival any acid dropping hippy for sure. I heard this song again yesterday and I still love it. Vocally it holds up even if the lyrics are a little wonky.

As you all know from past blogs I didn't have the most normal of teenage experiences. I was too busy creating a persona to ever really just kick back and enjoy the ride. I also totally blame John Hughes for putting unreasonable expectations on my generation as to what being a teenager meant. Though I attended a few parties that might rival the one in Sixteen Candles, including one at a good friend's house that SHE didn't even make it to. (Sorry, Sues...still feel a little bad about that) and I did have an attendance record to rival Ferris Bueller's I was more likely to be found sitting in Winchell's eating an apple fritter, smoking and ironically enough, doing homework while I ditched instead of commandeering a float and singing Danke Shoen. But there is one moment that I honestly felt like a "normal" teenager and it has stuck with me for more years now than I care to think about.

Between sophomore and junior year in high school I spent a good chunk of my summer up at our church camp helping a friend cook. While you were up at camp you were cut off from TV, movies, new music pretty much everything but camp. I can remember one girl going through the serving line singing "I wear my sunglasses at night so I can, so I can..." over and over and over. Now none of us knew why she would wear her sunglasses at night and she never finished the lyric so we started making things up to sing back to her. It was hilarious. At least for us. But that's not the story I want to tell here...back on track!

So it was the end of a camp week and an on again off again boyfriend of mine made the drive up to camp to see about making our relationship on again. I wasn't interested at the time but he had a car. And a car meant we could head down into Las Vegas. No, not THE Las Vegas. Las Vegas, New Mexico, the home of at least one movie theater and the insane asylum. So Amy, my friend and the head cook, her boyfriend Jeff, another girl whose name I can't remember, but I do remember she was extremely sweet, very pretty and completely confused as to why I INSISTED she sit in front with Charlie when it was obvious that was not what he wanted, and I headed down the hill to town. When I say hill I mean mountain. Hair pin turns, and drops in elevation from 7500 ft. at the base of the camp (Hermit's Peak is over 10,000 for those that have been there) to 6400 ft in just 16 miles. And because we were teenagers and Charlie was a little ticked off we were going much much too fast while we were doing it. Jeff, Amy and I were in the back seat and every time we would go around a corner we would scream "Wheeee!!!" as we slid into each other.

Charlie had wanted me to hear the soundtrack from Streets of Fire and so he had been playing it loudly on the way down the mountain. Two things about this trip will stick with me for ever. The lyric, "there's nothing wrong with going nowhere baby, but we should be going nowhere fast" playing as you are careening down a mountain so fast that the tires are squealing around every turn for me just crystallized a perfect teenage moment. The second is that looking back at it years later, I cannot believe we were that reckless...which made me smile. Teenagers. But now whenever I hear "Nowhere Fast" I am back on that mountain, then back in the parking lot of the insane asylum while Jeff and Charlie screamed, "Mom! Mom are you there?" , back in the Safeway racing carts down the aisles one person standing on the front long before Leonardo DiCaprio was ever "King of the World" and then eating burgers and laughing so hard our faces hurt. Just being stupid kids. And remembering that night as we turned out the lights Amy telling me, "I don't think I have ever felt more like a teenager than I do right now," and having to agree. It was stupid, it was hilarious to us, it was a completely dorky night and it was all done sober which for me was an oddity. It was my perfect teenage memory.

There are the songs that were on the radio when Brent and I were dating, the songs that we danced to at Club Rio or The Big Apple. I can remember dancing to Prince's "1999" and we were all talking about the party we would throw when it was 1999 and how great it would be. That came back to me New Year's Eve 1999 as the clock neared midnight and I remembered the giant party I was going to throw and I looked at my queen size bed with my husband napping on one side of me and my 7 year old sleeping away on the other, "But wake me up, Mom, I don't want to miss it!" and realizing that this party was much better than any I had ever imagined as a teenager.

Songs that played when we lived in Florida, Idaho, California and how they bring back the memories of those time periods. Hearing "Nothing Compares 2 U" for the first time and being so grateful that Brent was on his way home from a cruise instead of just heading out to sea. I am not sure that 6 months of "it's been so lonely without you here" would have been bearable. "The Boys are Back in Town" on the radio in San Diego meant that a battle group was on it's way in to port. You would smile, turn up the radio and sing loudly if it was your sailor coming home. If it wasn't you smiled, teared up and changed the station. Loving the song "Right Here Waiting" with the lyric "Oceans apart day after day" could it be more fitting for a Navy wife? Then hating the song when you found out that the prostitutes in the port towns were signing it to the boys as well? Ah yes...memories!

There are many more. Some are just fleeting memories. The first time I heard "Bawitaba" by Kid Rock and I did some old fashioned head banging. It made Christopher laugh so hard I thought he was going to fall down. He had never seen me whip my hair like that! Dancing to "Fight for Your Right (to Party)" with Christopher. I have mentioned this one before, probably not my most conventional parenting choice, but so much fun. Sitting in a hotel room in Toronto singing Indigo Girls with friends you have known for years but just met the day before. I could go on and on and on with different songs and different memories, but I think you get the point.

Music moves us. It adds to what we are doing. Directors know this. Would Darth Vader have been as intimidating without the Imperial March? Can you picture a witch on a bicycle without hearing the music from the Wizard of Oz? And can you imagine riding in a car with me without hearing an off tune but enthusiastic version of whatever is playing on the radio?

I didn't think so. Go out and enjoy your weekend. Put on your favorite tunes and dance. Make some new memories!


  1. That Blue October song could be your song you like from a band you dislike, then.

  2. Except since I like that song I can't honestly say I dislike the band.

  3. Well, fudge a little. If it's the only song of theirs you like, and you only like it for an odd reason, I think you'd fit the spirit of the challenge.