Dick Clark once said, “Music is the soundtrack of your life.” I can hear a song and immediately be transported back to a place in time. I see the people. I feel the air. I smell the room. I am Marty McFly zipping through space in my silver DeLorean. Every song or album or group has a story. I have been asked by a dear friend to share seven of those stories, so here is my journey down a musical memory highway.
When I was a little girl we had this giant monstrosity of a stereo console that commanded our living room. We would carefully place our parents’ albums on the turntable and sing and dance and imagine ourselves in other worlds. One of my favorites was Peter and the Wolf, Sergei Prokofiev’s interpretation of the classic story with both music and text. I would lie on our blue shag carpeting and place myself deep in the Russian woods hiding from the wolf (French horns), standing loyally by Peter (string instruments), and trying to warn the duck (oboe) of the dangers lurking around that tree.
Later I was given a green plastic record player I kept up in my room. I collected 45’s which I stacked in my round carry case, and one of the first records I purchased with my own money was “Sugar Sugar” by the Archies. I can still see myself shaking Betty’s tamborine and pounding on Veronica’s keyboard in my room, complete with pink walls, pink shag carpeting, pink curtains, and pink bedspreads.
As I got older, my tastes evolved. I began to buy albums: John Denver, Kansas, James Taylor, Boston, and yes, even Barry Manilow. (I’m still a Fanalow. I admit it. I said my tastes evolved; they didn’t get cooler.) Some of my best memories, though, are of listening to albums at friends’ houses. Peg introduced me to Todd Rundgren and Stevie Wonder, and whenever I hear “Hello, It’s Me” or “Sir Duke,” I am back in her groovy bedroom wildly dancing on her twin beds. Eric bestowed Dan Fogelberg, Julie offered Barbra Streisand’s “Superman”, and Sheila contributed “Liza with an ‘Z’”. It was an eclectic mix. Geeky with a touch of class.
As I entered college, disco was in full swing and the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack was the music of my generation. The Bee Gees were gods, fully clad in gold chains and tight pants.
I had a few odd favorites in those days that didn’t have anything to do with dancing under black light on multi-colored colored floor tiles. There was (and still is) a local hangout in town that had a juke box I would plug quarters in every time I was there. When they finally took “Please Come to Boston” by Dave Loggins off the machine, I cried like someone had taken away my favorite toy. When that song comes on the radio now, I am instantly transported back to those crazy, dark, smoke-filled years of the late 70’s.
There was another short-lived establishment I often frequented back then that served dangerous lime green drinks in mason jars. If you had more than one you forgot your name and where you lived. After one of these boozy concoctions, I was regularly found in the back of the bar yelling, “Play ‘Amie’” to the band. I’m sure the leader of the band, whose name was Pork, by the way, was used to girls yelling out Pure Prairie League song requests.
When I had children I had no patience for kids’ music except lullaby covers by James Taylor and Mary Chapin Carpenter. Our home and mini van were filled with the sounds of rock and country. No Raffi or Disney songs for these babies, and now, they still have rather broad and interesting tastes in music. You are welcome, boys.
Eventually albums gave way to 8 tracks which were replaced by CD’s. Digital is now king. I have close to 1500 songs on my iTunes that range from The Beatles to Waylon Jennings to a few selections from Fall Out Boy and Maroon 5, each with its own kooky story. Still eclectic. Still geeky. Still mine. This music will continue to be the soundtrack of my life with George Jones and Carole King and Elvis singing me home.
“Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”
- Berthold Auerbach