Music has always had a profound affect on me. I come by it honestly though, as my dad is the same way. I can remember going to concerts with him when I was young and I’d look over to see him wiping tears from his eyes. It intrigued me that a simple melody could affect someone so deeply, but now that I’m older I’m beginning to understand. A few years ago I went to see The Lion King with my brother and we both ended up bawling within 15 minutes. Then there was the first time I saw Phantom and I cried when I heard the Overture start. A beautiful or amazingly difficult song can bring on the tears in no time and sometimes haunts me to the point that I can think of nothing but acquiring a recording of it and playing it to death or til it’s out of my system. Whatever comes first.
This reminds me that I’m really happy to still have a few good outlets for me to scratch this musical itch of mine. About 3 years ago I started playing the flute again in a local concert band and, while I have just a fraction of the talent I had back in the day, it’s mostly lots of fun. The music hasn’t been anything that rocks my world, but it’s a great opportunity and I’ve made some good friends. I’m also still into fife and drum after all these years which is awesome. The music and history behind it has taken up residence in my blood, my very soul, and is part of me. So I’m really happy to still be doing that after all these years.
So anyway, today I was really busy at work and grabbed my iPod to find some good working music to get me thru the afternoon. It eventually advanced to a playlist I titled “October” which contains songs that were really popular during that month of one specific year. During this time I was experiencing some turmoil in various aspects of my life and also spending a lot of time with one particular friend. So most of those songs were popular at that time or are a bit newer and just remind me of that person and/or that time and I stick them in the October playlist.
Now music not only affects me deeply, it has a way of taking my mind back to a specific period of time. Whenever I hear Bon Jovi’s Livin’ On A Prayer I picture the Warren High gym and the pep rally where the majorettes twirled to that song. I don’t remember the routine but I remember the other kids singing along and cheering and when I tossed my baton up in the air with all my might and spun around it dropped right back down into my hand and I was so happy I didn’t drop it.
Or when I hear I Had The Time Of My Life from Dirty Dancing it takes me back to a time when I was feeling really low and my best friends came to my rescue. I had been dumped recently (twice actually, ugh) by the first great love of my life and after having to spend the day in his presence all I wanted was to go home and crawl under my blanket. That was my plan but my friends showed up with pizza, Doritos, Coke and the Dirty Dancing video and before we knew it we were dancing, grabbing Patrick Swayze’s butt on the TV screen, and bitching about my ex.
I don’t hear Great White’s Save Your Love that often, but when I do it reminds me of driving down Mound Road at 6am in Renee’s Monte Carlo. We had just left the senior all night party and were singing at the top of our lungs as we headed back to her house to get ready for graduation and a summer of fun before college.
I still can’t hear Cheap Trick’s The Flame without thinking of summer 1992 after I dumped an ex. And all the crazy parties, coming home at 3am and still managing to get to work on time in the morning, a summer of insanely good times and freedom. I hear that song and wonder how I ever survived that crazy, crazy summer.
So back to today and October. After hearing just the first few notes of the first song in that playlist my mind was instantly transported back to autumn of that year. The sights, scents, sounds, and emotions. It’s all right there at the surface although that particular autumn and October were years ago. I haven’t thought about that time period in months yet here we are again. Last time this happened I was driving out to Regina’s house and I heard three songs from that playlist on the radio and mentioned it to her when I arrived. This led to about an 8-hour conversation about October and a separate conversation with another friend. It totally threw me off emotionally for about a month. It’s all I could think about until I made a very conscious effort to just stop it.
Now that’s what gets me. How can there be only a handful of songs which cover 1987-1992 when there was tons going on but there are approximately 35 songs in the October playlist that cover only a 6-month time period? Is it that too much time has passed? Like maybe there were more songs and I’m just not remembering or the memories have faded. I’m thinking it’s the combination of age, recency, and intensity that make October stand out more strongly in my mind.
Those times long ago were intense, some very intense, as well so it must just be the passage of time and where I am right now physically, mentally, and all that. Back then I was looking at life from a perspective of being 18 or 21 and all life had in store for me and my friends. The majority of my family was still alive, in good health, and seemingly happy. Today I’m looking back at what was, what could have been, what I changed as I went along, what I should have changed, and now also looking forward.
So there’s definitely a theme or pattern happening here that I need to break. There’s no breaking me of being profoundly affected by music. It’s just not possible, nor would I want that interesting piece of me to go away. But in the spirit of the 2010 mindset, I need to figure out how to respond to the contents of the October playlist and what it represents. Rather than being thrown off course, derailed and lost in what ifs and regrets, I need to find a way to embrace this era for what it was. But how?
I’m hoping that writing about it gets it out of my system without much drama and torture. I imagine that the first step I should take is to stop listening to the playlist. Or perhaps delete it. After all, this would not have happened today if I was paying attention and bypassed it.
But there are a lot of really good songs there! How can I not enjoy good music. No, I have to find that happy medium where I can still enjoy it and appreciate it while remembering both the good and bad memories associated to it. And that’s what I’m going to do. The upside is that every time this happens the duration is shorter and it affects me less so perhaps the periodic immersion therapy, while annoying, is doing some good to desensitize me. We’ll see…