Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Something something something... Aaaaaafricaaaaa...

I love music.  Always have.  I was raised in a house where there was always a radio on, whether it was in the kitchen as my mom prepared meals, or our rooms as we cleaned or relaxed, or in the garage, working on some project or another with my dad.  No matter where we went, music went with us.  When the radio wasn't on, we were singing, my sister leading my brother and I in various choruses, teaching us how to harmonize.  But always, there was music.

I grew up in the 80s and early 90s.  My mom and sister always listened to contemporary hits radio (chr), while my dad was locked in to the local oldies station.  Actually, that's one reason I chose a career in radio, but that's a story for a different day. The point is, whether I wanted it or not, I was exposed to a variety of styles, and got to witness the evolution of those styles into new and different types of music.  It's largely thanks to that, that I now have vastly eclectic musical tastes.

This morning, as I was driving to work, I popped in a CD I'd made of music from 1980-85.  I started thinking about the songs I chose for the compilation.  Though I'll tell anyone who asks that I love new wave, there really isn't any to be found on that disc.  Much of it, in fact, was decidedly adult contemporary: The Alan Parsons Project, Thompson Twins, Cyndi Lauper, Genesis... and, yes, Toto. 

I enjoy the music, certainly, but part of this, I find, has much more to do with nostalgia.  It's a feeling I get of being a child again, surrounded by family, still full of wonder.  More than that, though, the blessed glimpses back in time. 

I find that, as I get older, my memory fades.  I lose bits and pieces of my childhood and am left with disjointed anecdotes where there once were memories.  But when I hear "Eye in the Sky," for example, or "Hold me now," I get ... not movies, really, but still frames.  Partial pictures and images without context.  A phone hanging on a kitchen wall.  A Roy Lichtenstein print.  Clues to a period I can barely remember.  I know I saw these things, but can't remember where or why.

Other memories are more clear: listening to Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart" while my childhood self sat in a car, and remembering that Tommy James and the Shondells' "Crimson and Clover" was on right before, and Sly & the Family Stone's "Everyday People" is coming up next.  Being in my sister's room and listening, with her, to the Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams."

I love my life.  I have a fantastic wife, great kids, a job I enjoy.  But there's stress, too.  Bills and responsibilities.  Nostalgia is a security blanket.  I play the music driving to work and, even if I can't grasp the details, remember that, before adulthood, there was a small boy who found it magical.

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