So, the Daily Post on WordPress gives these handy little prompts to me on a (you guessed it!) daily basis, and the prompt from a few days ago caught my eye:
Daily Prompt: Always Something There to Remind Me
A song comes on the radio and instantly, you’re transported to a different time and place. Which song(s) bring back memories for you and why? Be sure to mention the song, and describe the memory it evokes.
Photographers, artists, poets: show us PAST.
I really like this topic. There are a couple of songs that for me, evoke strong memories, some fun, some a little more melancholy. It’s really interesting to think of all the ways that our senses can bring memories back to life. Whenever I smell pipe tobacco, so sharp and sweet, I think of my Grandpa Joe – my grandmother’s second husband. He passed away before I turned 8. Though I can’t remember what he looks like without the aid of a picture, and I can’t remember more about his personality other than a general sense of kindness, I can’t help but think of those things whenever I get a whiff of pipe tobacco. I’m 29, so I think I can say I’ve lived for a pretty good chunk of time. But I don’t remember a whole lot of my childhood anymore. Not in a tactile way. When I really try to think about it, I have flashes of moments, but mostly what I get is a general sense of the people and I see them as they are now, as they look now, rather than being able to remember they way they looked back when. I can’t tell anymore how much of my memories are real, and how much are based on the stories my parents and extended family have retold over the years. Scents and music help.
I will never be able to listen to country music without thinking of my dad. Certain artists bring back the memories of the concerts he took me to as a kid (because I was the only one of his 4 girls who wasn’t too cool to listen to country music out in public). Shania Twain, Garth Brooks, Patty Lovelace, I hear them and I am transported back to the stands we sat in, the beloved cowboy boots I got for my birthday, and the feeling that I was sharing something special with him. Something just for the two of us.
Single – “How Bizarre” by OMC
Debuted in February 1997 and bumped its way up to number 1 on the US Billboard Mainstream Top 40.
Album – “Spice” by The Spice Girls
Also debuting in February 1997, Spice was released in U.S., and it became the biggest-selling album of 1997, peaking at number one and being certified 7x Platinum with sales in excess of 7.4 million copies. The album is also included in the Top 100 Albums of All Time list of The Recording Industry Association of America. In total, the album sold 28 million copies and became the biggest-selling album in the music history by an all-female group.
The songs of the Spice Girls album and the single “How Bizarre” remind me of spending time with my sisters as a child/pre-teen. We liked to hang around my house, typically in the living room, listening to music on the radio or on cassette tapes (yeah, we still had those and we were constantly looking for music to make mixes). But we would find songs that we knew, grab our hairbrushes or other microphone-esque objects and sing and dance along to the Top 40. With the Spice Girls, we memorized as many of their dance moves as possible and took turns being lead vocals on their various songs. Hearing “How Bizarre” now makes me smile because one of my sisters recorded it and we would often play the song on fast forward (something most music players now-a-days are not capable of) because when you played it that way it sounded like Alvin and the Chipmunks were singing. I remember cracking up listening to it that way.
A Special Song…
On a more somber note, one song in particular that comes to mind when I think about music carrying memories is “Go Rest High On That Mountain” by Vince Gill. It was released years ago, back in 1995, right around the time that my Uncle Stephen passed away. It was written in honor of Vince Gill’s brother who had also died around that time. I have always been a big fan of his, and so is my dad. As a birthday present one year, I got us tickets to his concert. Before the show, my dad told me some stories about my uncle and my grandfather, and he told me that “Go Rest High On That Mountain” was the song he associated with his brother.
Thinking of my uncle; his life, and what I’ve learned about him as I grew up, I thought it was especially appropriate. That concert was (and is), for me, the best show I’ve ever been to. And when he played that song, I’m pretty sure it made the both of us cry. Now, when I hear it, I think about my uncle. Who he was, the hardships that he endured in his life, and also my memories of him. Watching Star Wars or How the Grinch Stole Christmas during the holidays, hearing him call me Agnes (his nickname for me), and even sitting at his memorial being angry that I wasn’t allowed to go to his funeral (I was considered ‘too young to understand’). I’m not a terribly religious person, I don’t think I really believe in a Heaven or an afterlife; but hearing this song, for a few moments, it’s like he’s there with me. Those opening chords make me smile and those moments are a connection. For me, that’s enough.