Sunday, March 1, 2009

Who Are you? Who, Who, Who, Who?

Recently, The Actor mentioned that Smooth by Santana and Rob Thomas reminded him of when we lived in Illinois and, more specifically, riding in the old Toyota MR2 with MathMan. That got me to thinking about how often music can take you back to a place and time and, often, specific events.

Like just now as I finally decided to write this post that I've been turning over in my head, I was prompted by hearing The Who's Love Reign O'er Me. I was at the Cincinnati Zoo on a trip with my high school's Science Club (Shut up, I was in all kinds of clubs! I was even in in the Drinking in the Cemetery and Cow Tipping clubs. Growing up in a very small town did have it's social advantages, after all.)

Anyway, back to the Cincinnati Zoo and that trip. We were nearing the end of our field trip and most of us had gathered on some picnic tables to prepare to board the bus for the trip back home to Rising Sun. Suddenly, the cloudy skies gave way and large rain drops began to plink, plink, plink around us. Within seconds the plinks turned into an official downpour.

Teenagers scattered and scrambled for the nearest shelter. Back in 1983, some of us spent a lot of quality time with our curling irons, mirrors and cans of Aqua Net. Those big coifs were labor intensive. Teasing was rather a fine art. Hence, many of us weren't going to sacrifice all that effort without a fight.

We stood chattering away under the shelter of an overhang of a snackbar, waiting out the downpour. Not everyone had joined the group, though, and we could see a couple of our classmates coming our way. One of them, Tim P., a rather outgoing young man, grinned a big grin and then threw his arms up wide and sang......"Luhhhhhhhhhve, rain o'er me......." giving us his best impression of Roger Daltrey.

I can see it like it was yesterday.

There are other songs that do the same thing. Simple Minds' Don't You Forget about Me puts me right back into my apartment on Alameda Avenue in Muncie, Indiana. I was a freshman in college and my then boyfriend, new roommate and I moved our belongs from the dorm to the apartment during a blinding snowstorm. But stay in the dorm another night? No way! Ah....good times.
The Grateful Dead's Sugar Magnolia is a time machine that sends me back to the days when my girlfriend Tanya and I would hang out at the creek, sunbathing. We'd set our lawn chairs up in the shallows and sit around drinking beer and wine coolers, discussing our latest conquests and conspiring fake names and phone numbers for the evenings outing to this bar or that.

One afternoon, after a few too many, we thought it would be a bright idea to play on the tire swing that hung on a big old willow tree on the creek's bank. I believe the word I'm looking for here is something stronger than unfortunate, but not quite near-fatal. We were just glad that no videotape was involved. I never did find the top to my green bikini.

I could bore you to death with examples of how music can trigger memories, but I like you so I'll let you live. Back in the days before anyone knew about my blogs, I wrote a whole post on music. It was kind of like writing about the soundtrack of my life. Up to that point in 2006, anyway. Songs that remind me of the years 2007 and 2008 are mostly an itchy mix of polka, Gregorian chants, reggae, Miley Cyrus, and Edith Piaf and to punish you with that would be completely outside the bounds of decency. And you know what an adherent I am to those boundaries.

Instead, why don't you share with us your life's soundtrack? Seriously, I'm curious. Because surely, you don't want me to go on for six paragraphs about how I hear the opening to this song in my head all the time lately, do you?


  1. I am sure that I have heard this zoo story before but science club? Who were you and were did Miss Science go? And the clown music? Eek. Do you dream of the four of us donning our clown suits and as we dance through your night time head. Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls and children of all ages... we present that clown of clowns Mathman and his dancing chimp family...

  2. I remember a trip to ETSU with the French Club when I was a senior and the only tape we had was a Thompson Twins CD, so all the way there and back that was all we had to listen to.

    There was a ton of Madonna, REM, Bronski Beat and Dead or Alive, in the late 80's and early 90's. If it had a beat I loved to dance back then.

    Mid ninety's it mellowed to Counting Crowes, Hootie, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Wynonna and I fell in love with Kenny Chesney.

    Lately I am stuck on Matt Alber and the Fray. If it is sad and melodic stuff I will listen to it.

  3. I'll give you a favorite memory/music soundtrack. Go back to 1978.....I was a freshman at the University of Missouri Columbia and it was the fall. You can feel an Indian Summer sort of day(forgive me if this is not PC), You hear music from cars and folks driving around. There I am, on the back of an older model convertable with 3 friends, a hot guy I was dating(ok ok, just screwing the hell out of him) driving and blaring out and singing along to Earth Wind and Fire~~ September......great song, even today and I do own the CD(I'm not cool enough for an ipod of my own yet). It's one of my favorite soundtrack flashbacks!

  4. MathMan- When I dream of clowns, you know it. That's when I wake up screaming.

    Travelingman - Thompson Twins? See, when I hear that, I think of MathMan singing "Hold My Cow" instead of "Hold Me Now." He's the king of goofing on lyrics. I'll be you and I have very similar music collections.

    Anita - I just heard September 78 on Friday when I was driving The Actor to school! I was jamming and doing the white man's overbite and the hand circling thing!!!! He was all "No, mom, no! and leaning against the window, trying to get as far away from me as he could get! Guess what he'll think of forever after when he hears that song!

    And I can just see you on the back of a convertible, getting crazy!

  5. Earth Angel.

  6. Just to show you how utterly hip and cool I am and was...

    My favorite flashback music is...

    POLKA! No clunky, oom-pah German crap though. It has to be genuine Polish Hop material. I met my first husband at a Polka dance, and the fact that we both excelled at the wild, bouncy "Hop" was what brought us together. Whether that was for good or ill is debatable, but we did get two great kids out of the union.

  7. OMG I hate happens all the time. I did a post on that a long time back and I'm going to repost it on the weekend that I's about the Muppet song and ... well, enough said. Muppet song????? Seriously...Jesus wept real tears...

  8. Wonderful! I may have to take you up on the challenge, at the risk of being predictable.

  9. Excellent post, Lisa. There dozens of songs that take me back to a very specific place and time. Some songs literally invoke smells.

  10. Heard "Always something there to remind me" Sandy Shaw (mid 60s) and I was instantly back in the park with my friend and the tranny wondering if these lads we knew would turn up LOL.

    Lots of others take me back too.

  11. all my significant memories have songs attached- mostly jackson browne xx
    LIsa x

  12. So many thoughts, so many songs... And no time.

    Do you have a snow day???? I bet you do.

    We do not!

  13. Just like that Trisha yearwood song, The Song Remembers Well. I cannot believe it is Monday already. I am hoping for a good hair day for picture day. Have a good day.

  14. You do have a thing for clowns.

  15. "If they asked me, I could write a book..." and maybe I will some day.

    Every stage in my life has its own musical soundtrack, and as with you, certain songs evoke memories of specific occasions. (eg cue up Roberta Flack's "Killing Me Softly With His Song" and I'm driving down Route 25 in Jamesport NY in a 1972 Saab, while the Lovin's Spoonful's "Summer In The City" takes me immediately to the West End concession stand at Jones Beach, August 1966.)

    But I digress. My main point is to emphasize that there has never been a band like the Who, before or since. Ever.

  16. A few years ago I went to see Annie Lennox and Sting in concert.
    Annie Lennox was the opening act, and she literally sang the soundtract of my life.
    I was so emotionally sated and drained after her set, I could only handle about two of Sting's songs before I had to leave.
    Seriously, he should have opened for her.

  17. This is a very good post. One of my favorite things about it is Mathman's goofing on lyrics. I often can't actually understand lyrics due to loud music deafness from my life as a concert goer in the '60s, so the things I think I hear are much like Mathman's goof lyrics. It does make most of the pop crap the penetrates my filter much funnier than it probably is.

    My musical memory tour would no doubt bore you all to death since it's mostly jazz.

  18. Well, since I am old.. start with the mid to late 50's and just work your way forward... That's my taste in music... and really all types, rock, hard rock, not much into rap.. but other than that I listen to about

  19. My soundtrack is pretty long and fairly varied with a few clunkers. It would start with Fats Domino and some big band tunes and Beethoven and get more heavily into rock with side excursions into jazz and lots more classical and folk, with very small snips of country (that was my brother's thing--he could tolerate plangency I couldn't stand). Etc.

    Music tied to specific events in my life--I, too, have a "Love Reign O'er Me" scene, although it has more to do with walking in Very Upper Manhattan and The Bronx, wrestling with a love that was a Bad Idea (and that I knew was a Bad Idea, and eventually years later got to learn in detail just how Bad an Idea it would have been, but try shutting up your heart. At least I didn't manage to make a complete fool of myself. Two falls out of three) for a mile or so occasionally windmilling like Pete--I'd have to remember, and that's kind of ouchie at the moment. There was the discovery that "Do the Hustle" had the correct rhythm for driving at 55 mph exactly, which I employed for ten minutes in front of Ohio cops...

  20. I could write a whole blog on this one...

    1992: Packing up and driving out of the small north coast town I had called home for a year, Crowded House come on the radio "..always take the weather, the weather with you". Every time I hear that now, I think of that moment, and the decade of itinerancy that followed.

    1987: Jersey Girl, the Springsteen cover, takes me back to the phone call where I found out from the other side of the world about the girlfriend I had left behind fucking my best friend back in Sydney.

    I'm sure there are some positive connections, too; but those are what bubble to the top straight away....

  21. "Who's Next" on the 8 track. Bill Von Tagen's red mustang, top down. Cutting school on a sunny spring afternoon. Heading up to the top of Mt. Diablo. Sigh. I want a Time Machine!!

  22. For a while there in college, I believed no album was worth listening to unless it was played at a high volume, inside a car, whilst high on pot.

    There are many many songs which fit the "soundtrack of my life" moniker, most of which I still listen to now. The first thing which comes to mind is PJ Harvey's album Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea and Radiohead's OK Computer.

    Wow, that's you in the pool in 1986? In 1986 I was all of six years old.

  23. OK, several things:

    First of all, I actually wrote a blog post about exactly this in July of last year--here's the link if you'd like to check it out:

    Secondly, even worse than Science Club, I actually went to SCIENCE CAMP in 8th grade...sooo nerdy....but most of the kids there were like me and kept saying "What am I doing here??" :)

    Third, I so would love to be in the Drinking in the Cemetery club...groovy! :)

    Fourth, what small town did you grow up in, and how small was it? I grew up in a town of 1000 people in Wisconsin.

    I do get the feeling that you and I are quite a bit alike! *smiles*

  24. well, I have no witty answers for you as nothing is coming to me...this one, I would have to really sit and ponder, since I have listened to the wind, silence and classical for so long, I don't remember what was there before that...there might be other reasons why I don't remember but I don't remember.....really!


  25. Don't get me started - I could easily rival your six paragraphs about the circus music...

    I am mostly transported by sappy love songs - Styx's "Babe" and anything Rick Springfield are for the boy I loved through jr high (but didn't love me back) who then moved away, never to be heard from again; Chicago's "Hard Habit to Break" is all about my favorite HS guy friend who I wished with all my heart would be my boyfriend; Cutting Crew's "Died in Your Arms" is for all the jokers I crushed on my disastrous freshman year of college.

    Seriously, I'm a dope. But this is SUCH a great exercise, thank you :D

  26. I remember Vanilla Fudge, "You Keep Me Hangin On" on a stereo reel to reel while stationed on a ship that was anchored in DaNang Harbor in `69. It was the first time I dropped acid. I don't hear it much these days but it is a remarkable tune and it draws a memory of the time.

  27. Karen Zipdrive...I was at that same concert here in Charlotte and I too had to leave after two songs by Sting. It was the only time I have ever gotten to hear the great Annie Lennox in person and man did it ever have an impact on my heart and soul.

  28. I am the first to say that the high school years were not the high point of my life, but the songs sure do stick. "Don't you forget about me" was the long bus ride to Colorado for my senior year skiing trip. My boyfriend Scott and I kissed most of the night and then he had the nerve to ask why my hair looked so funny in the morning. (I was never into Aquanet . . . but I could have used some hairdo preservation.) Your song choices are funny to me because it reminds me that being the same age gives you a kind of shared collective experience when it comes to music -- no matter where you happened to grow up.

  29. Funny. I posted that Who song on Monday. Is that today?

  30. itchy mix of polka, Gregorian chants, reggae, Miley Cyrus, and Edith Piaf

    itchy indeed


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