Feb 20, 2011

Ring a bell and I'll salivate

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 :)


  1. I get to think about the year 2010 when I hear Neon Tress' Animals. I remember 2008 when I hear "young folks".

    But the feeling of nostalgia is not limited with hearing music. When I was just in puverty, and I, well, I make myself happy in the bathroom, I sort of always use our shampoo (Rejoice) and we stopped using that shampoo for a very long time. Now whenever I smell someone who has just showered with that scent I get a boner. LOL

    PS I was supposed to comment a spam here for my boss' website but I kindah like the post so i thought to give a decent (yes I think it's decent wink wink ^_0 ) comment and use my personal blog's url :)

  2. You are so right. Music gets stamped on your soul. I can't remember what was on playing the first time I had sex, but if I hear a certain song it immediately brings up a memory or thoughts of a person.
    Ahhh the talking heads. Wundy-ful stuf

  3. The funny thing is that "Smoke on the Water" has been wrecked for me from 2 & 1/2 Men. lol.

    I have all my biological father's vinyls and they are so precious to me - like his soul is living on through all that music.

  4. I love music too but since becoming a Mum I don't get to listen to as much as if I'm at home it's always so easy to put the TV on. I've been saying for AGES I need to update my iPod but never get around to it.

    It is funny how music imprints on your soul and brings back memories (good and bad)...infact, reading this I feel inspired to write a post about my musical memories :)

  5. you know, smells are the same way. Whenever i smell "Hawaiian Tropic" i'm 16, laying out in the sun all slathered with oil. Man, i love that smell! It's the smell of my youth!

  6. This is so true, the things that can take you back in time ... a song, a smell ... yes, cocunut oil on the beach, takes me back to being 16, tan and gorgeous lying in the arms of a highschool hunk and .... ooops ... carried away ...

  7. Well, while I can't think of any smells that give me a boner, I know that ocean breeze from Suave reminds me of my fiancee and Basketcase by Green Day reminds me of being in fifth grade, typing up the lyrics for my BFF and getting psych counseling because they thought I WROTE IT! What.the.fuck. lol.

  8. @Abby - OMG, that is too funny! Oh, gotta love GreenDay lyrics.

    Grade 5 for me was Kokomo, Beach Boys from the Cocktail Soundtrack - gag! When recess was inside because of rain, we would sit on our desks and listen to it on full volume - The BeachBoys... seriously, how hardcore, eh? Kids are dumb. lol.

  9. Hmmm, I don't know what I prefer, I am a music adapter. But I will always love 80s pop, just can't help myself :) Stopped over from the Say Hi Sunday hop and glad I did. Your site is great!

  10. I heard a rumor that they were gonna bring back the 8-track! I hope they do, because I've never seen one before! Music is the only think in this world that keeps me moving and motivated. I swear, I have thousands of songs that mark a pivotal time in my life.

  11. I love music, I cant see my life without music. My favorite type of music is alternative rock/pop from individual artists. Im a HUGE FAN of Regina Spektor!

  12. i had a record player as a kid...I should have kept my records! remember beta tapes? LoL...

  13. What a great post. I think I shall be forever stuck in the 80's/early 90's with music and memories. I really should rescue my vinyl from my mum's attic one day and ship it across.

    I love that you got a spammer to change his mind.


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