The other day we finally got a real taste of spring weather; the kind that makes you feel invincible and like the whole world is buzzing with possibility. Energized, I figured I’d finally get to the multiple errands I had to run, so with windows down, iPod volume way up, I headed out. Or, rather I should say, I headed back…to the 70’s 80’s and 90’s.
My kids are horrified by the music selection on my iPod. Every time we are in my car, they roll their eyes, make guttural sounds of disgust and try to impress upon me the importance of listening to today’s music. I explain to them that I’m not that old, that music has the power to take you places and that I put songs on there that make me happy or remind me of certain times in my life. I try to explain to them that my iPod is like a scrapbook of my life.
I also try to impress upon them what it was like to not have your favorite songs at your fingertips. I tell them horror stories of the past; when I would keep my radio on next to my bed waiting for hours on end to hear my favorite song. If you missed it because you had to sleep, eat, pee or go to school? Complete nightmare. They can’t comprehend such a thing. The idea that I could put my favorite songs all on this tiny little device and carry it with me anywhere is like a miracle from God. They have no idea.
My iPod is incredibly powerful; it’s my time machine. Within a few notes of any song, the memories, faces and feelings come rushing back. When I hear “Magic” by Pilot, I am at Community Pool in West Caldwell in 1975 tasting the pizza from the snack bar, smelling the chlorine in my hair from my early morning swimming lessons, and feeling the knots in my stomach from sheer terror at the thought of jumping from the high dive for the first time. I also remember a certain 6th grade crush and all the agony and angst that came with it. “Magic” makes me smile. And who could forget “Peter Frampton Comes Alive.” I mean, seriously; I know you’re smiling now.
All of the arena rock bands are well represented, with Journey, Styx, Boston, Aerosmith, Queen and Van Halen headlining. I credit Journey’s “Open Arms” as the reason I left school after my freshman year of college to study at home to be closer to my then boyfriend. Thank God, I married him. Boston’s “Rock-n-roll Band” takes me back to Giants Stadium where I watched friends vomit “red crap,” a vodka and Kool-Aid combo that I wasn’t particularly fond of that they had consumed pre-concert in the parking lot. Ah…the 80’s. (Pls. note, we were legally drinking then. Not intelligently, but legally).
When I hear Led Zeppelin’s “All of My Love” I am on a golf course on the Friday after Thanksgiving with a cousin (who shall remain nameless) hanging out and flirting (really that was all) with some cute guys. The same cousins will forever be linked to Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way, ” and Tony Orlando and Dawn’s “Knock Three Times.” Interesting bunch we were… Ah the fun we had those Thanksgiving weekends.
Then, (drum roll pls.) Bruce’s “Jungleland” comes on. Oh my…an anthem for the ages. We knew every word because we were from Jersey, and Bruce was IT…Never can I remember being so proud of where I came from. It’s a summer night in the parking lot at Foodtown and our cars are lined up, packed with kids just hanging out with their tape decks blasting “Jungleland.”
And who could forget Fribble and Fry night at Friendlys? Every Friday night during football season, we would head to our local Friendlys. “September” by Earth, Wind and Fire, is vibrating from the backseat speakers mounted 1/4 inch from my head. How fabulous were Fribble and Fry Fridays at Friendlys!
The entire soundtrack from “Grease” puts me on the boardwalk in Seaside with both of my grandparents spinning the wheels and riding the rides. My mom was so in love with John Travolta I think she took us to see it three times that summer, even once from the front row of the theater. “Summer Lovin”….had me a blast!
More John Travolta with “Urban Cowboy.” I still get goose bumps. I knew every word to every song on that sound track, “But Lookin For Love” was something special.
I can’t hear Styx’s “Renegade” without being transported back to 1980 to a stairwell in my high school listening to my friends harmonize. Who knew stairwells had such fantastic acoustics? I can still hear their voices mixed in with the clanging of other kids’ feet on the concrete steps. All of it together made for quite the happy and magical chorus.
And oh, the southern rock bands…No one can deny Lynyrd Skynyrd’s call to fun in “Sweet Home Alabama.” The grass between my toes tickles as I make my way down the treacherous hill at what we called Partyland; essentially a field where we went to hang out once we got kicked out of the parking lots. The Allmann Brothers, 38 Special, and Marshall Tucker’s “Heard It In a Love Song” also hold a special memory or two.
I will admit that there are even a few nods to the disco era on my time machine. Donna Summer and “Dim All The Lights” reminds me of the Friday night high school ski club bus trips. When I hear it, my toes feel frozen and I picture myself in my lime green and pink ski outfit chewing banana flavored gum. Really, really bad…
Then there are the songs that take me to really special people and places. Of course, there’s the first dance at your wedding song. “Waiting For A Girl Like You,” was ours. ( No judgment please, it was the 80’s). I also have a song; sometimes more than one, that I associate with each of my kids.
“Who Says You Can’t Go Home,” by Bon Jovi still makes me lose it. It’s 2006, and I am in the Wal-Mart parking lot. I am there to buy my oldest son’s “going to college stuff” and I have just had to move my car to distance myself so that other shoppers couldn’t hear the hysterical woman in the front seat. I hadn’t even gotten into the store yet, but am having a complete mental breakdown while listening to this song. It was epic.
The Dixie Chicks’ “Wide Open Spaces,” was basically written with my daughter in mind. When I dropped her off at JFK for a semester abroad in Italy, I tortured myself by playing the song over and over while sobbing all the way home. She’s been safely back for 3 years now, but I still get choked up every time I hear it.
“In My Mind, I’m Going To Carolina,” by James Taylor, puts me, in my mind, on the side of Route 95 South somewhere in Maryland, where I have careened off the road to strip the clothes from my two year old who has just puked all over everything for the first of many times to come. It was our first road trip to visit my parents who had just moved to NC. Feeling the song was appropriate, I hit play, and he heaved. To be fair, I’ve added a better memory song for him. It’s the Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun.” It’s so him and when I hear it, I don’t smell vomit. It’s a good thing.
I could go on forever; describing how songs by the Eagles, Steve Miller Band, Tom Petty, Van Morrison, Bad Company, ELO, Jackson Browne, Elton John and Fleetwood Mac all have the power to bring back memories and place me back in time.
But now it’s your turn. Where does your iPod/time machine take you and with what songs?
I am a married, stay at home mom whom after 25 years of dedicated service has been deserted by my kids for greener pastures. Having always had an opinion and never being shy about expressing it, I thought it would be nice to write about things rather than yell them from the back of PTA meetings. Visit my blog at www.theflowncoop.com!