Thursday, October 06, 2005

Music and Memories

Even the most uncool kid has a pocket of cool somewhere. Mine was music. Music always made its way to me. I’m not sure how it happened, but I was the one to have a song before it was on the radio. I had the ear that people called up to set up their stereo. I could hear lyrics that no one could hear. Somewhere in the listening the smallest details became part of me, and I could recall nuances about a song as if I were the one who produced it.

Maybe it started in dance class clapping to music when I was three. It could have been years in my basement working out choreography to Ferrante & Teicher and songs of the fifties my brothers bequeathed me. Perhaps it is some right-brain affliction that has its hold on me, but as Paul Carrack says “I Live by the Groove.” I have music in me.

I didn’t guess when I bought that first record that I was buying memories.

Over time I collected this one and that each one a friend of sorts, and as I do, I introduced them to people I knew. Through most of my days there was music playing—the soundtrack underscoring my life. My roommate in college shared the same soundtrack by default, but she said she liked borrowing mine. Maybe that’s why it’s easiest for me to express what I’m feeling with a line from a song.

By the time school was over, my collection held every genre. It caught puzzled interest from those who looked through it. All found plenty they wanted to hear. But none found a way to describe the collection. Good music according to me.

Time passed after college and my collection deepened. I lived with a keyboard player, spent nights with the band. We were gone more often than not. Why would we think when we left for that gig that an accident was going to happen. But one did. We came home to a foundation flood that ruined the carpet and made its way through all of my vinyl. Green mold didn’t do much for stereo sound. So I packed my LPs away in a closet. There would be no thinking about tossing them out. The keyboard player and I parted years later. I’m still carting those ruined LPs around.

When the record industry saw a market in releasing old records as remastered CDs, I started buying replacements. One by one I got back the old friends I had lost and with them some great memories. I even went to see a guy play that I’d been listening to for 30 years. I got a hug in the deal.

Now the collection is nearly complete. With a song I see my dad teach me to drive. I hear my brother and I doing dishes. I feel my first boyfriend holding hands by my side. I revisit the dreams of a young college kid.

I thought I was rebuilding my record collection.

But I constructed a time machine.
—me strauss Letting me be


Anonymous said...

I'm a big proponent of utilizing music in everyday of life. I've been borrowing some of the most harrowing and hopeful lyrics to serve as my post titles for the last year or so. I just think there's a lot you can learn from music that simple repetition cannot explain. It's more than the fact it's easier to grasp concepts when sung melodically; it's more akin to the music subversively changing you into something more than you were before.

"ME" Liz Strauss said...

Hi Mojo,
I love your writing and especially the way youintroduce each article with a bit of music to focus it. I might do more of that, if you didn't do it so well.:)

I agree that music does seem to change a person somewhere deeply into something more.


Anonymous said...

I've read a few post recently that have talked about music and I've never (up to this point) given it much thought. I didn't grow up with music...not until I was in 5th Grade did I get a tape recorder and that was so I could play one tape over and over (and have my parents threaten to burn it if I didn't play something esle). That obsession eventually faded and I didn't listen to music for another 3 years...then in 8th grade I started to get some interest in it...not until college though did I really take an interest...which is when I started writing. I think though I took interest in a lot of things at that was as if my eyes suddenly opened up to the world around me.

Anyway to get back on track...I've never thought about music influencing my writing in anyway. And I'm still not sure if it has, but it definitely has linked to my life. Certain songs I always associate with some event or experience or something in my life...

I think that was a little all over and longer than it needed to be :) It's the 4 hours of sleep I got last night.

"ME" Liz Strauss said...

Hi Jennifer,
Thanks for giving this your time when you could be sleeping. Your relationship to music sounds a little like mine to recreational reading.

Somehow we got together that's what counts I think.


Anonymous said...


". . .the soundtrack underscoring my life," pretty much says it all. There is so much here that makes this essay so complete and fulfilling. Your first sentence made me smile. It was like hearing a brilliant riff that hooked me into reading every word and sentence throughout the entire writing. I love the effect you create by not combining the last two sentences. By letting your last sentence stand alone, you so wonderfully bridge the past with the present.

Funny how songs we so loved from our youth can bring back memories when we hear them later in life. This morning, I was driving to work when I found myself singing to The Monkees "Day Dream Believer." In an instance, it was 1967. I was sitting in the backseat of my friend's father's Chevy Impala as he gave us a ride to school. Needless to say, I enjoyed reading. . .

"ME" Liz Strauss said...

It is so good of you to take the time to give such a thoughtful response to what I write, and so meaningful to me.

It makes me want to go back and reread what I wrote to see it through your eyes.

Those first two sentences had been following me around for days, telling me they needed a home. It took a while for me to build one that would suit them. (picky they were.)

Thank you again, Scot.

Anonymous said...

It was so right
It was so wrong
Even at the same time.

The pain and ache
A heart can take
No one really knows.

When the memories cling,
and keep you there
until you no longer care-
I can let go now

It's wrong for me
to cling to you.
Somehow I just needed time
From what was to be.
It's not like me
to hold somebody down.

But I was tossed high by love
I thought I'd never come down
Only to land here,
where love's no longer found. Where I'm no longer bound.

And I can let go now.

"ME" Liz Strauss said...

That's beautiful. I wish I knew more to say. . . . It's a gift that you left it here. Thank you.