I have this friend of mine, Crossroads I’ve called him in the past, but he’s known as D3, so thusly he shall be referred. Well, his eclectic collection of music often has me either nostalgic, amused, or otherwise. This collection spans many genres and is present on vinyl, cassette or CD.
Music was the backbone of my childhood. Not that we played, but we were avid listeners.
Each summer Mom would latch on to some song she heard on the radio, and that would be the song of summer. As I grew older, these songs were often things my ‘group’ would not have listened to, and so it became a way of keeping my tastes open to new things. That was my Mom for ya, always one for opening up our horizons, and making sure we knew there was a whole bunch of stuff out there to discover, as I think she feared we’d both get captured by the alluring sameness of Dodge.
Not that there is anything wrong with a small town, yet often there are those who need more, and will never be completely fulfilled without getting their tailfeathers a bit dusky and drawn from the journey.
They are fabulous though to return to, to rest one’s bum on one of those handmade Muskoka chairs that grace the front porch, and watch the river go by soaking up the quiet, and sameness.
I was born in ’67, the summer of love. When the hair was growing long, and the music was to “To Sir With Love” and “Happy Together”, an “Ode To Billy Joe”, and “For What It’s Worth”, rang through the transistor radio in our tiny trailer in North Carolina. I can almost imagine Mom bopping away to some Motown tune, as she washed the dishes, as I played with my food awaiting the grand entrance of the prodigal fathers return from the beer joint with his half spent pay cheque.
Oh, happy times, happy times, that summer of love set off. But they inched by, barely, they made it work somehow, Mom and Dad, eventually, by sheer force of will, and “Do You Believe In Magic”.
The music was there, in the background to many of my life events. Like when Grandma died, when Mom came back from next door and told us, on the radio off in her bedroom down the hall, after she said the words, all I heard were the lyrics to “Against All Odds”, by Phil Collins. My Grandma was no ordinary Grandma, she was our world, our Matriarch, our linchpin, our centre. With her gone, what would we do? How could she die?
Odd that it had never occurred to us that she would, I mean she was 76 years old.
Still, music was there, as it always was, and 1984 was a “Cruel Summer”, when “Doves Cry”, and “Time after Time”.
And the band played on, and I was “waiting for a star to fall”, as late the previous year boy did meet girl, and we were “sowing the seeds of love” by 1989, married 1990, but unfortunately he just became a “Candle In The Wind”, and that was that. And interesting factoid, Elton John did a remake of that song for the death of Princess Diana, in the year my husband and I separated.
And after that, it’s a blur of Beethoven and The Rach, a little Chopin, and a sultry late night, wine induced dance to “Patricia The Stripper”, and my world went from shattered to “Bye Bye Bye”, and by 2001 it was “Only Time”.
Which I guess was why that CD was playing when Mom died later on that year, October 31st, 2001, as she took her last breaths to “One By One”, by Enya.
And all my sisters’ friends could talk about that December was how our Mom was their “Hero”, and it took my sister and me years to understand that connection. But they saw Dad standing there beside her, and to them he was a hero, as he tried to kiss away her pain, I get it now, but back then it made no sense as all we saw was her beautiful dying breath, and those two crystal clear tears as she opened up her eyes and said her one last goodbye.
Music to me has been sometimes a soundtrack, sometimes a memory box, and sometimes a secret that only you know and you won’t tell anyone. So you smile, and you turn away to hide, the smile or the tears so no one will ask you why.
And what brought me thinking of the music and me, is this bit of a debate that occurred at work last week, between a younger co-worker and myself who refused to listen to anything that was playing Drake or the Bieber, and could only tolerate Classic Rock. Fair enough, fair enough, but a lad in his early 20’s so enamored with the music of my generation does confound me, but to each his own. So I let him keep the station on the Classic rock tunes, playing stuff I’ve been listening to for longer than he’s been alive.
I guess what struck me was that I preferred the pop rock to the classic, at least when it came to the hard physical work that makes up the morning shift I often work. Funny that. Seriously, that I prefer Bieber to AC DC? Beyonce to Neil Young? Yes, actually. Quite a shock to me too.
Well, not prefer, per se, but like to listen to in the morning, I suppose, when I need a little groove in my moves, and a distraction.
See, I realized I see music now more as almost mini adventures, and I seek the song that will define, and one day remind me of these times – like I’m listening for a little rip in the fabric of time and space.
Plus, the random chaos of the radio, the new formulations on an old theme, regurgitated for the new generation, maybe the song remains the same, maybe, but I don’t care, I forge on ahead into the new, whenever I am in those moments. And I’ll look back on fondly, and what will be playing? Well, it won’t be the same old song, it will be something, often, I wouldn’t have otherwise heard, or heard in quite that way, you know?
For me, in this 50th year, working harder than I ever have before, and happier, it’s no longer “all about the base”, and I no longer have “love on the brain” cause it’s just “fake love”, anyways.