The Mountain Times

°F Wed, April 23, 2014

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Memory: sometimes I have one


So have you ever heard a Boomer say, "I can't remember what I had for lunch yesterday, but I can remember something from 30 years ago like it was yesterday"? I say it all the time, only now I am saying "40 years ago." Scary.
Memories are usually triggered by something, and those triggers are as much fun as the memory itself. More often than not, the trigger is a song.
Music was a deliberate enjoyment when we were young. We had to plan it. Listening to music meant going to the room where the phonograph, or later the stereo, was set up. In some homes there was only one and it was stationed in the living room. You had to jockey for position in between the parents listening to Dean Martin or Doris Day.
We had to care for our music. Albums could scratch easily. They required gentle handling and needed to be slid back into the jacket after each playing. And you had to lift the arm of the record player very gently so the needle didn't drag on the grooves and become damaged.
This Boomer still prefers live radio over iPods. There is nothing like being surprised by an old song that jars a warm memory. It often happens when you least expect it. I recently got in my car, turned over the engine and was greeted by Strawberry Fields Forever. Heaven.
There are certain songs for me that are associated with a particularly vivid memory. No matter when or where I catch the song, the memory pops up like a Jack in the Box.
I Think We're Alone Now, Tommy James and the Shondells - The second I hear this song, I am transported back to Ricky Glinka's parent's basement and the memory of my first real make out session.
Maggie May, Rod Stewart - Sleepovers at Cathy Lynch's house. The most Irish family I ever knew, but her mom made a mean lasagna. Cathy's house was walking distance to the movie theatre and Grant Park - a popular hangout when we were in high school.
Anything by the Beach Boys - trips to Fire Island during summer vacation. We would walk to the causeway, then hitch hike to the beach. Typically, we got picked up by someone from our high school because basically the entire student population went there every day.
Alone Again (Naturally), Gilbert O'Sullivan - dating my friend Denise Bittner's cousin Ronnie. He had the bluest eyes I had ever seen. No idea why that song makes me think of him, it just does.
Color My World, Chicago - Me in a beige, crepe empire dress at my senior prom. Thank you Tommy Burns for honoring your commitment to taking me even though you had started dating Alice Byrd. You were a true gentleman.
Bob Dylan - Whether its Lay Lady Lay or I Ain't Gonna Work on Maggie's Farm No More, I think of Steve Hanken. He introduced me to the artist in the 8th grade. It was heady music at that age, and I thought Steve must be extremely deep and intelligent to be listening to songs like these. I thought Dylan's voice abrasive, but I did read the lyrics over and over trying to decipher them. And it turns out Steve is extremely intelligent.
I Saw the Light, Todd Rundgren - The first time I heard this song I was in my freshman dorm at SUNY New Paltz. Lynn Bauer, who lived across the hall, was playing it. I probably heard that album another 1000 times during that 1972-73 school year - all played by Lynn.
The Joker, Steve Miller Band- They played a concert at our college. It was the only concert I can recall where the band played for so long, people actually started walking out on the show because they were tired.
Desperado, The Eagles - Makes me think of the Seinfeld episode where Elaine dated the guy who stopped dead in his tracks when he heard Desperado. She tried to counteract with Witchy Woman.
OK fellow Boomers, now I want to hear from you. Send me your favorite memory song and the place it takes you to when you hear it. I'll share one in each column so we can all reminisce in a collective Boomer memory.
In the meantime, I'm going to play some Grateful Dead.
Cindy Phillips is a columnist for The Mountain Times. You can reach her directly at cphillipsauthor@yahoo.com.