by jess (link happy) lewis
if i were to make a timeline of my life it would most definitely be set to music. in the way that a particular smell can evoke a memory for some, a song, artist and sometimes a genre can instantly transport me to another moment in my life.
my early years are riddled with the sounds of carole king and cat stevens and i can’t help but think of my mom when i hear their songs. she made a painting of joni mitchell’s ladies of the canyon album cover that i think of every time i hear big yellow taxi. my love for the motown sound and soul music can be directly linked to road trips with my family. i remember the windows rolled down, our hair whipping around and the heat of the sun on my legs. i can practically feel the force of the wind pushing against my arm that is hanging out of the passenger side window as we speed down the highway. i can hear my mom, sister and i singing along to the cassettes and if i try really hard i can almost smell the corn as we’re zipping past the fields on either side of us.
any random top 40 hit from the eighties defines an entire season for me. the mere mention of frankie goes to hollywood or mr. mister and i recall the summers of my childhood and the those first tastes of freedom that came with pedaling my bicycle for miles upon miles seeking out friends and adventure. it’s not the smell of chlorine or hawaiian tropic tanning oil that take me back to the countless days spent at the pool. rather, it’s the memories of hearing the crackly sound of pet shop boys, the human league and glass tiger blaring from the speakers of the pool house. i can see the teenaged girls with their deep tans and multiple swatch watches they wore stacked on their wrists and ankles cleverly standing at the top of the concrete steps near the boys’ changing room any time i hear fine young cannibals.
it seems only right that the beatles were there to usher me into my hormonal, boy-crazy preteen years. i immersed myself in everything beatles, from music to books to movies. they were like my musical gateway drug. from the beatles it was an easy jump to any kind of music really. my tastes differed depending on my mood or what day of the week it was (things really haven’t changed in this regard). i became a teenager in the 90’s and there was so much music to be heard. violent femmes’ 1983 self-titled debut album in its entirety brings a mischievous smile to my lips as i recall sing a-longs and trading secrets in my best friend’s bedroom. led zeppelin’s first 6 albums remind me of my first boyfriend, high school parties and just being a teenager in general. everyone had a led zeppelin phase, right? i spent hours hitting the record button on the tape deck making mix tapes that reflected all of my fickleness. all i need is a glimpse of the cover of where you been and i think of all those nights my angsty teenage self fell asleep listening to WJMU, the local college radio station (i had a crush on one of the dj’s just because of his voice and the music he played).
it would be a fair assessment to say that during my teen years the music was constantly on and often varied. i’m not sure what it says that my 30’s are turning out to be the same. maybe it’s because i consider my 20’s to have been slightly stagnant in the music department. for the most part i stuck with what i knew and i missed out on some good music. thankfully, my musical palate keeps expanding and in a way i’ve come full circle (i still have serious love for motown/soul music and all those 80’s tunes). the fact that a soundtrack was and is continually weaving itself naturally through my life never ceases to delight me. i consider myself fortunate that so many of my musical memories are happy ones, with only a few bittersweet exceptions. i’m forever in awe of the way just hearing a few notes can instantly connect me to so many moments in my past. do you have this same connection with music?
join us this month and see what we have up our (album) sleeves while we talk about music. maybe do a little time traveling of your own. we would love it if you would share with us some of your own musical memories!