06 September 2012

Memory Music

"Almost every one of these albums takes me back to a specific moment in my life so whenever I play one, I'm flooded with all sorts of memories.  I guess you could say I'm reliving my personal history."
                                                         -- Dr Lee Rosen, "When Push Comes to Shove", Alphas (2x04)

Thanks to Netflix, I've been catching up on a bunch of shows that I was told I'd love, yet hadn't had the chance to check out before.  Right now, I'm catching up with Alphas.  And one of the episodes I watched today (on SyFy, since Netflix only has season 1 right now) was "When Push Comes to Shove".  The quote above was near the beginning of the show and not really part of the main story line.  In it, Dr. Rosen is talking with Kat, a young woman with muscle memory that lets her copy whatever she sees (very much like Monica Dawson on Heroes), but Kat's comes with the negative effect of wiping out any memory older than about a month old.  Rosen wants to try to help her remember more of her past, including something like her favorite song.  When she chuckles at it, he says the above quote.

It impacted me strongly.  Music has always been an important part of my life, and songs or snippits of song will hurl me back in time to those moments and I feel just like I did back then.  And it amazes me the things that I remember from those times.

Today, I was driving the boys back from picking up Teddy's glasses when Train's "Drops of Jupiter" came on the radio.  I was brought back to my early days of living in New York, hearing the song on the radio when I was taking the train in to work, or having it play on darts nights.  For all that the song continued to be popular, the memories for me stop on September 11th.  It is a reminder of my happier times in New York.

I sang along, remembering every word, being a carefree twenty-something starting a new life.

I just have to think about "Counting Flowers on the Wall" by the Statler Brothers to be brought back to my childhood.  I remember sitting at my aunt's table one day, listening to it and loving it because it mentioned Captain Kangaroo.  Things were simpler then.  I need that sometimes.

"The Rose" brings me to so many places.  When I was in high school, it was my signature song.  Every solo concert, I would sing it at least once.  My boyfriend, Paul, went out to buy me a rose during one concert so he could give it to me when I came off stage.  I recorded it for my parents and grandparents on a cassette tape for Christmas one year.  I tried to sing it at my Pappaw's funeral, but forgot all the words.  And during my wedding, I had it played for my father and my sister to dance to (since my dad missed her wedding and they couldn't do a father/daughter dance).  I wanted to sing it that time, but I didn't trust that I could.

When I was in the hospital, giving birth to my oldest son, I had made up a whole list of songs to play during the whole waiting time before hand (and there was a lot of that).  I called it, "Songs to Give Birth By" and it had nurses stopping in constantly to see what song was coming up next.  I can't remember what most of the songs were now, and the list is long gone.  But one song, one moment, stuck with me above all others.  Lorrie Morgan's "Something in Red".  The epidural was on the edge of not working and I was hurting quite a bit.  Rich was sitting beside me, holding my hand while I tried to block out the pain.  And then I heard the first words of the song, "I'm looking for something in red," and my eyes locked with my husband's through the whole song.  I sang along with Lorrie, and when the fourth verse came along, I smiled at Rich with tears in my eyes.

"I'm looking for something in blue,
Something real tiny, the baby's brand new.
He has his father's nose and his chin.
We once were hot lovers, now we're more like friends.
Don't tell me that's just what old married folk do.
I'm looking for something in blue.

It reminded me why I was enduring the pain, what was going to come out at the end of it.  And somehow, the song, being able to sing it to Rich and share with him at that moment, I didn't remember the pain anymore.

These aren't the only songs that bring me back.  "When I Said I Do" by Clint Black and Lisa Hartman was our first dance song and I stared into Rich's eyes, singing it to him as we danced for the first time as husband and wife.  I can't hear, "Paradise by the Dashboard Lights" by Meatloaf without being pulled back to college, singing it with Kat, Tammy, Tina, Carm... just about everyone.  Or "I'm Alright by Jo Dee Messina reminding me of hard concrete as I sat at a gas station, reconnecting with an old friend.  Or many nights of tears, remembering a friendship and love affair that I'd cause to implode, sure that I'd never love again, whenever I heard, "I Can't Make You Love Me" by Bonnie Raitt.

Songs pull at my heart strings.  They make me laugh and make me cry, reminds me of joys and mistakes, love and pain.  It makes me a child, a teenager, a young woman making mistakes and making the most of life.  Music is my life.