In which I discuss Music
Today I was at the gym on the recumbent bike reading my iPad, tweeting, checking my email and doing all the other various and sundry things I do while I workout. Oh yeah, and listening to my music on shuffle. I love to listen on shuffle because I have thousands of songs and random songs pop up and then I remember stuff from long ago because for me, songs cause some sort of Pavlovian memory responses.
I was recently asked if I would write a “rock and roll” post for Lady Estrogen over at her blog. I agreed, because obviously at the time I didn’t realize I would have a severe mood crash and be incapable of writing anything remotely resembling either interesting or funny. At any rate, I figured that I had a choice of three different directions that I could go off in. I could tell the story of when I met Kevin Cronin, the lead singer of REO SpeedWagon a few years back, or I could tell the story of how I won a wet T-shirt contest when I was in college and then had to dance in front of hundreds and hundreds of people to “She’s a Brickhouse” or I could write about how different songs evoke such strong personal memories and associations that I am literally taken back in time when I hear them.
So which do you prefer? Doesn't matter. I don’t care and I’m going to choose the last one. When I was growing up (remember, I’m older than you so things were different then), I remember getting my first radio on my 10th birthday. This was a very big deal and back then, most music was on AM radio and you really had very few ways to listen to music. There were these things called "vinyl records." That’s right you young folk. We all had piles of 45’s that we listened to over and over again, and all the new music was on the radio. So, I got my new radio and I would lay on my bed in the room, reading and listening to music.
Because of that, songs would become the means by which I remember certain books. When I was 13, I read The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. That summer “Smoke on the Water” by Deep Purple was very popular and was played every single hour. Therefore, whenever I think of LOTR, I think of that song and if I hear that song, which I rarely do since it’s not really a classic, I think of LOTR.
The Day of the Jackal had the first “sex” scene that I ever read. I mean a real, honest to god sex scene. The big song at the time was “Killing Me Softly” by Roberta Flack and I can’t hear that song without thinking of that book and therefore, SEX. So yeah, music is both evocative and Pavlovian.
When I was in high school cars had 8-tracks in them. Don’t know what that is? Google it youngsters! At any rate, I had a Firebird and my friends and I would drive around blasting Diana & Marvin on the 8 track. My poor little brother Bruce would be crammed in the backseat begging us to turn it off. To this day I can’t think of Diana Ross without laughing at both my brothers misery and our sheer joy. Spring break 1977: “Fooled Around and Fell in Love” was the big song and when I hear it, I’m down at Myrtle Beach South Carolina again at The Spanish Galleon.
Fast forward a few years and seriously, The Talking Heads. That was my college experience. The Doors, Grateful Dead, Little Feat - the minute one of them comes on I feel and incredible urge to roll a joint and light up. It completely takes me back. The first time I had sex Steely Dan was playing. Another experience, a different night it was “Mr. Bojangles”. It’s incredible how certain songs come on and bam, you’re right back in the moment.
I even have these memories with my kids. Once, when Keely was 13 or so we had gone down to a swim meet in Chapel Hill. Keely swam great and as I drove her and her friend Leah back home, “Hey Ya” by Outcast came on. We screamed the song at the top of our lungs and whenever I hear that song, I think of that swim meet and car ride with Keely and Leah and I laugh.
Music is an incredible thing in that certain experiences are indelibly stamped into your memory and music is the glue that keeps them there. There were certain symphonies that my parents played all the time that, even though I’m not big into classical music, when I hear the opening chords I think of them.
So to me, music is more than something that swirls around me; it’s the means by which certain events in my life become part of my soul. I love music, and while I’m by no means an expert, I can’t imagine living without it.
I’m just saying…
Guest post by Lynn, who is the hilariously fabulous author of All Fooked Up. Check her out if you haven't already... but I'm sure you have :)