Saturday, November 4, 2006

Music and how it takes you back

Warning: Very long post ahead

The experts say that smell is the sense that promotes memory the most. I have to disagree with that, I think it's sound; at least for me it is. A mother yelling down the street to her kids that it's time to come in is one. Which nowadays you rarely hear since most kids are already indoors playing a computer game or two. But what does it for me the most is music, particularly specific songs.

My earliest memory, I must have been younger than 10, of listening to music by myself is of me sitting in my room putting on one of the records that have a bunch of different artists on them. Was that K-Tel? I remember there being KC and the Sunshine Band, Linda Ronstadt, Elvis and so many more. I would sit in my room, turn on the record player and very carefully put the record on and then the needle. The sound, that scratchy badoop sound, was a harbinger of good things to come. Ronstadt's the one I remember the most. She'd been lied to and cheated on so much that she had to sing about it and let everyone know she wasn't happy. When I hear that song, which isn't often, but when I do I'm instantly back in my room listening to her sing with the scratch of the needle in the background.

The other song that brings me back to young childhood is
The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald by Gordon Lightfoot. It's such a haunting song that to this day I still get tears in my eyes every single time I hear it. My mother would sit at the dining room table paying bills or doing whatever moms do, listening to the radio at a low volume while we kids would be sitting in the living room watching tv. I remember on more than one occasion that song coming on and I would leave whatever was on the tv, no matter how into the show I was, to go stand next to the radio and listen to that beautiful tribute. I would stand there singing along with tears streaming down my face. The 1st time I did it my mom didn't even notice. A few days later when I did it again she asked me what I was doing. When I looked at her my eyes were shining with tears and she instantly got up and held me for the rest of the song and cried along. I'll always remember that special moment with her.

I love rock and roll, I thank my brothers for that. As my bio states I enjoy just about anything played on classic rock stations. And many a song will remind me of something or other of my childhood.

The 80's flashbacks on the radio remind me of my teen years. I was more a fan of the hairbands than any other kind of 80's music but there's a few others that will take me back. I don't care for Bruce Springsteen, I know blasphemy, but there's two songs of his that when I hear them do it for me. Pink Cadillac (which I hate so won't listen to, just the first few words are enough) and I'm on Fire which is alright. Pink Cadillac, Missing You - John Waite , Money for Nothing (I Want My MTV) - Dire Straits and These Dreams - Heart all take me back to the summer of '85 when I worked in Wisconsin Dells as a bus person. It was the best summer and job of my life. There are times that I wish I were back there if even for just one day.

Then there's the "This is our song" songs. Now normally you'd only remember your own but my oldest brother was a huge influence on me and The Scorpions' No One Like You makes me think of him with his girlfriend at the time. I think it sticks with me because she broke his heart (the cunt). And it hurts me every time I think about it. He deserves someone special.

My first "our song" was George Michael's Father Figure. My first serious boyfriend wanted to be everything to me and he thought that song just summed up our relationship. It was a toss up between that song and Terance Trent D'Arby's Sign Your Name, which I thought fit better but I let him choose.

Nightrangers' When I See You Smile was the song I had with my exhusband. That one fit so well because before it came out I used to tell everyone to smile all the time. Especially my fiance when he was feeling down or just whenever he wasn't smiling. I didn't do it in an irritating way, just so you know, I did it because I genuinely wanted to see people and especially him smile. Then the song came out and it just fit with us. When I hear that song I think of him of course but in particular when we saw them in concert. It was in some small venue/bar in New Orleans. Everyone had to stand, there weren't seats or tables anywhere. We had gotten there early enough to be directly in front of the stage. At the end of that song the guitarist threw his pick into the audience and I caught it. Have no clue where it is now but for awhile it was stuck in the frame of a picture of us. When we got married that song just didn't fit well enough to be our first dance song so we chose Angel Eyes by The Jeff Healey Band which also was special to us.

Wow, even just mentioning that one brought up a whole new memory that I had forgotten about until just now. When it first came out I loved it, as so many others did. When I went to my towns local record store to buy it the owner looked me up and down and said, "You don't want it, just get the single." Now I knew him as well as any customer could who goes into the store on a three times a month if not more basis. He was always good to us kids, stayed open later than normal on the weekends for us scoop the loopers. He was a 30 something black guy, I was an 18 year old white chick. He says the rest of the album is nothing like that song. It's a blues band and that's what the album is, he looked me up and down again and says, "Katrina, you're a white girl, you wouldn't like the first song that came on." Now is that not just the snottiest thing to say to me or what? But I laughed and said that, "Yes, I may be white but I would like the first song that came on and all the rest if they were even half as good as Angel Eyes. Whether they sounded like that or the deepest, darkest blues." Now, admittedly most of the blues songs I knew at that time were by Led Zeppelin but if you know anything about Zep you know they stole and stole and stole from the best blues artists around. And I liked just about every one of their blues songs. The few other songs I had heard by blues artists I also liked. So after mentioning this to him he laughed right back and said that he'd sell it to me but if I ended up not liking it I could return it. I loved every song and still have the cassette. Just can't play it anymore because of having no cassette player. Haven't thought about it in years, now after this I must see if it's available on CD so I can get it. Maybe other stuff by them too. The next time I was in the store I let him know that it was all I'd listen too. He was very proud. Makes me laugh.

H Ditty and I have a couple songs but other than very private moments there's no real stories to go with them.

There was one week in August of '88 that will always be special to me for many reasons. I was in Gulf Shores Alabama with my best friend and there was a song for just about every day. Monday is Aerosmith's Angel, Wednesday is G n R's Sweet Child O' Mine, Thursday is Eagles' Hotel California and Friday is Def Leppard's Love Bites. All for specific reasons that I won't go into at this time. Maybe one day if you ask me nicely.

Whenever I hear a Police or Sting song my Freshman and sophomore English teacher comes to mind. She was 24 and had a huge crush on Sting. She had a poster of him up on the wall in the classroom. The top left corner started to peel away from the wall about halfway through my Freshman year. One day she goes into the room and it's gone. Turns out the janitor tossed it. It had fallen off the wall and was on the floor when he had come in to clean so rather than put it on her desk he tossed it in the garbage. She was not a happy camper.

There are other songs, of course, many many 80's songs. Especially the silly 80's songs such as Safety Dance and Puttin on the Ritz and Amadeus that just make me happy. I hated Safety Dance when it was out, as I did most top 40 songs then but I can appreciate them now and some I even like.

Whenever I hear a Prince song it usually makes me think of The Funny Bone, a comedy club in Baton Rouge. Or at least, it was there when I lived there, don't know about now. One night there was a hypnotist, by the way, if you ever get a chance to see a comedic hypnotist do it it's some of the best stuff around. Anyway, this guy asks if there's anyone that knows a song from start to finish. One guy raises his hand and says he knows Little Red Corvette. He goes up on stage, the hypnotist talks to him for a bit, says some things, snaps his fingers and the guy starts singing away. No music, just him up on stage and within the first couple lyrics he was into it. So much so that this tall skinny white boy became small skinny black Prince. It was a sight to see and the audience was eating it up. He got a standing O when he was done. I felt bad for the next person. It was a chick that said she new Madonna's Like A Virgin. She did know the song but the hypnotist basically put these people under to become the artist. It was very sad, she couldn't sing and she had no rhythm. Her slithering around on stage and trying to be all sexy was just not working. About halfway through the song the hypnotist stopped her. She had no clue, she thought she had finished. I will say this about the audience, we still clapped and cheered for her. No one booed or hollered anything mean, we did laugh quite a bit though while it was going on, couldn't help that.

Nostalgia is a wonderful thing and as I said nothing brings me back like
the sound of music.

Media quote of the day:
Leaves are falling all around, It's time I was on my way.
Thanks to you, I'm much obliged for such a pleasant stay.
But now it's time for me to go. The autumn moon lights my way.
For now I smell the rain, and with it pain, and it's headed my way.
Sometimes I grow so tired, but I know I've got one thing I got to do...

Ramble On, And now's the time, the time is now, to sing my song.
I'm goin' 'round the world, I got to find my girl, on my way.
I've been this way ten years to the day, Ramble On,
Gotta find the queen of all my dreams.

Got no time for spreadin' roots, The time has come to be gone.
And to' our health we drank a thousand times, it's time to Ramble On.

Partial song of Ramble On by Led Zeppelin


Anonymous said...

I love music. This was a fantastic post and some of the songs took me back as well. I will have to say though that taste and smell will bring back stronger memories than song, although songs trigger more memories on average. I hope that made sense.

Katrina said...


Yeah, it sort of did. Smell is pretty good at conjuring memories for me too.

dirk.mancuso said...

It's amazing how hearing a certain song or even a lyric snippet can totally take you back to something you had forgotten (or thought you had).

When in Rome's THE PROMISE is one that does that for me. So is THE MOONBEAM SONG by Harry Nilson.

Katrina said...

I know I love it. On my way home today from a temp job I had I heard two of the songs I mentioned. It was actually kind of weird.

I don't know The Moonbeam Song, at least the name isn't familiar. I'll look it up.

Anonymous said...

Love My Way by Psychedelic Furs gets me every time.

Katrina said...

Ooh, another song I'm not familiar with. I will be checking these out.