As I was driving to work the other morning a Guns N’ Roses tune came across the radio. I don’t even want to talk about the fact that it was on a classic rock station. It can’t be possible that my beloved 80s metal bands are now categorized in such terms. Classic rock? What’s next…the oldies? I shudder at the thought.
It seems like just yesterday that I was blown away upon first hearing Axl Rose belting out “Paradise City”. If yesterday was 1987, that is, and for a few minutes during that mundane drive to work it was. Iwas transported across the miles and across the years back to my junior year in high school. I was no longer in my Accord in South Carolina. Instead I was back in New Jersey in the passenger seat of my friend’s little red Nissan, and we were screaming out the lyrics right along with Axl as we rode to school.
Consider how often a song instantly makes you think of a certain person or group of people. Feel how easily you are transported via your radio’s airwaves to a specific time and place in your life. Chances are if you have a memory there is a song, an album, and/ or an artist attached to that memory.
If you hit “shuffle” on my iPod you would likely find yourself listening to one of the great singer/ songwriters from the 60s or 70s. Let me hear Billy Joel or Jackson Browne, and I am back in my parents living room in the late 70s. I can picture myself sitting on that gold carpet surrounded by my mom’s record collection. I would pore over those albums obsessively for hours on end, picking one after another to place reverently on the turntable.
Some days it would be Jim Croce’s “Time in a Bottle” or “I Got a Name”. Other days were reserved for Simon and Garfunkel’s “Sound of Silence” and “Bridge Over Troubled Water”. I am surprised I didn’t wear the needle out picking it up and putting it down time and again to replay Elton John’s “Levon” or “Rocket Man”. As a preteen girl I didn’t grasp the meaning of the lyrics yet, but I knew there was magic in those voices and in the songs they sang.
It was amidst that stack of mom’s albums that I discovered a treasure. It was Neil Diamond’s Love at the Greek, a live double album released in 1977. It changed my young life, and it turned me into a Diamond Girl forever. I still get chills listening to him sing “Holly Holy” or “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show”. One of my all-time best memories is getting the chance to attend one of his concerts in 2002. Fittingly, my mom, the person who formed my earliest love of music, was right there beside me listening to the “Beautiful Noise” of The Diamond. (My husband was also there, but odds are he will deny it if you ask him. Don’t let him fool you, though, as I spied his foot tapping more than once.)
There have been countless memories connected with music throughout the years. I remember watching alongside my mom and my brother as The Who’s final concert aired on HBO in 1982. Who knew (pun fully intended) that in the fall of 2012, thirty years after that “final” show, my husband would surprise me with tickets to see them in concert in Greenville, SC. I can tell you that I felt the same awe in hearing Roger Daltrey’s voice belting out “Love Reign O’er Me” as I had all those many years ago.
It is close to impossible for me to hear a song from the 80s without a specific image flashing through my mind. If I hear Bonnie Tyler singing “Total Eclipse of the Heart” I am carried back to junior high school and the first co-ed party I attended, where we nervously paired up and danced to that song for what seemed like hours. Put on Scandal’s “The Warrior” and I am at the football field on a Friday night cheering for either the Warriors or the Red Devils. Hit me with Duran Duran or Thompson Twins, and I remember days with a wonderful friend, going to Devils hockey games or sleepovers staying up all night fixing the world and planning our futures. Play anything by Bon Jovi or Mötley Crüe and a collage of my high school years appears before me, including images of great times primping (and crimping, if you remember Jersey hair in the 80s) before concerts with some amazing friends.
Time has marched on, and life has changed considerably over the past few decades. There are new songs to hear and new memories to make (though if the truth be told more often then not I stick with those pre-90s songs). I am grateful for the tunes and the lyrics that keep those recollections sharp in my mind. I will forever love the music that commemorates my story and makes up the soundtrack of my life.
“Thank you for the music, the songs I’m singing
Thanks for all the joy they’re bringing
Who can live without it, I ask in all honesty
What would life be?
Without a song or a dance what are we?
So I say thank you for the music
For giving it to me”
1977 ABBA “Thank You for the Music”
What are some of the songs or albums that bring you back to a certain place or time? Who are the musicians that created the soundtrack for your life? As always I welcome and encourage your thoughts and comments! Cheers! Karen