What songs bring you the most intense memories?
One of the great things about music is its associative power — that is, its ability to deliver you to a specific time and place. Obviously, this trait shows why music is so powerful in the advertising and marketing worlds. A simple three-note melody can instantly bring to mind a product or brand.
But today I’m more interested in personal memories, scenes evoked by a certain song. I’d love it if you could provide one specific memory that a song brings to mind.
Here are a few of mine. As it happens, they all involve my college years… does that mean I listened to music more in college? I’m not too sure about that. Regardless, here they are:
Steppin’ Out, by Joe Jackson.
College was a seminal experience for me. The first time I ever set foot in the state of Missouri was when I went to a pre-college orientation at Mizzou. I really didn’t know anyone in Missouri, much less at the university. But after an awkward few months I began to feel at home, thanks to my quick friendships at my fraternity, Beta Theta Pi.
Soon I was actually enjoying college. This song, aside from being a killer tune, brings up the distinct memory of getting ready to go out – probably to a college bar like the Fieldhouse or its predecessor, Bullwinkles. It’s probably Friday night. A week of school work is done, and I had probably spent the afternoon playing basketball with the fellas. Now, it was time to go out, to see and be seen. A world of possibilities awaits.
Hard to Say I’m Sorry, Chicago
Things were not all sweetness and light in college, however.
I arrived on campus exhausted. My room in the “pledge” floor of the fraternity house was, quite literally, a pile of rubble with a partially assembled bed frame and a dusty mattress in its midst. I fell asleep early that first night. The next morning I awoke with a fine surprise: I was covered with bright red welts, head to toe.
I had chicken pox.
I quickly realized I had contracted them from helping my high school girlfriend Beth babysit. One of the kids had the malady. I assumed, of course, that I had had it as a toddler. I was wrong.
Having recovered from that socially embarrassing disorder, I was happy to arrange a visit by said girlfriend, a Baylor student. Alas, I soon learned she had made the trip to break up with me.
I was devastated. And that night, through my tears, Chicago’s “Hard to Say I’m Sorry” seemed to come on the radio every few songs.
Maudlin, I know. But it seemed to speak to me: “After all that we’ve been through, I will make it up to you…”
Ah, the pain of teen love.
Sunset Grill, Don Henley
What is college without a road trip?
My friends and I decided we had to see Missouri play Texas in Austin. So we rented a Winnebago and hit the road, driving all night to reach our destination.
As it turned out, I was the only guy in the bunch who wasn’t intent on getting drunk. So naturally, I was given the late-night driving shift. Which meant that there I was, tooling down I-35 sometime before dawn, a screaming group of fairly well lit friends behind me, sprays of beer foam periodically dousing my back. They were playing drinking games that somehow required all interior lights to be on, and music to be cranked. “Am I okay to get over?” I asked at one point, trying to find an exit. “COME ON OVER!” came the reply. Of course no one had actually LOOKED in the lane I was trying to get in.
Somehow I missed the car and made the exit. Then, just as the sky turned auburn with the coming dawn, “Sunset Grill” came on. True, it was a sunrise, not a sunset, but somehow it seemed appropriate.
Okay, those are a few of mine. What are yours?