musical memories

In a refreshing twist, this post has absolutely nothing to do with weight loss. I’m doing well and an update is coming, just not now.

I’ve mentioned here before that we’re not allowed to play music at work. It sucks but I was dealing with it. And by dealing with it, I mean it was driving me up a wall. My boss’ daughter got married last month and needless to say he and his wife were not in much in the weeks leading up the the event. Sometime last week, when I realized this was the best time to do it, I bought a small Bluetooth speaker at 5Below, made a Spotify playlist, brought it to work and hoped for the best.

I asked my co-worker/the office manager if it would be OK if I used the speaker and if/when Jay & Bey* come in, I’ll turn it off. She said she didn’t mind so within 30 seconds I was jamming out

*names changed to protect the ridiculous no music rule makers

Since I knew I was going to propose a music situation, I wanted to be ready with a playlist chock full of work friendly bops. sidenote: is it just me or are 95% of today’s music marked as “explicit”? Do you know how hard it is to make a playlist full of work friendly bops? Playlists are a big deal for me because music is so personal.

Next to scent, music is the biggest trigger for memory. That’s where I’m going with this, in case you were wondering. I used Spotify to make my work playlist. I went through dozens of their pre-made lists and picked songs that would work. Sometimes just seeing the title of the song brought a memory back that made me smile.. or cringe.

In this essay I will share with you some songs that immediately put my mind somewhere in my past.

This I Promise You – NSYNC

It’s somewhere between 1998 and 2001 but probably closer to 2001 since this album came out in 2000. I digress. I’m at a dance at my junior high school. It’s probably November or maybe January so it’s cold outside but no less than 85 degrees inside. I’m standing with a group of my friends, praying my crush will notice me and freaking out when/if we make eye contact. I don’t remember how the song came on, if it was the choice of the DJ or if someone requested it. One of the boys from my class came over and asked each of us to dance. Over the course of the 3 minute song, 5 people danced with this one boy, myself included. I like to twist the story and say that he had a crush on me so I had the longest turn, but that’s just for my ego. And that’s the story of my first dance with a boy. Is anyone surprised it was to a song by a boy band? I didn’t think so.

I Want It That Way/ The Millennium Album – Backstreet Boys

It’s the summer of 1999. My mom and I are driving to visit my grandmother. I have the Millennium album in my CD Walkman blasting in my ears. We’re on the highway about a mile away from the exit when one of the tires has a complete blow out. My mom was able to get on the shoulder and got out to assess the damage. She had a donut in the trunk but no jack. Not sure what to do, she took a minute to make a plan of action. Cellphones weren’t a big thing yet so needless to say, we didn’t have one. Just when panic started to set in, a car pulled over behind us and a two men got out. My mom cautiously told them what was going on. Within 15 minutes (maybe) the donut was on and we were on our way. My mom tried to give the guys a little bit of money – 1 – for their trouble and 2 – because they had kids in their car and if they wouldn’t accept the money for themselves, at least use it to buy the kids ice cream.

It’s still summer 1999. My cousin and I are watching MTV in my aunt’s bedroom. The I Want It That Way music video comes on. We squeal. The Boys are in their gleaming white outfits in an empty airport doing THAT dance. You know, the one where their right arm moves with their right leg in a sweeping motion in front of their bodies? Watch the video; you’ll see. My cousin starts to do THE dance in front of the TV. I am amazed. “How do you know how to do that? Teach me!” I scramble to get next to her and she starts the sweeping motions, like it’s easy. I look like a flailing flamingo. To this day, I cannot coordinate my arms and legs to get the dance right.

A You’re Adorable – Perry Como

It’s roughly 1992, maybe 1993. I’m in the car with Harriet, my babysitter (who was like a second mom to me). She’s taking me home. We’re about 4 blocks away from my house and stopped at the longest light in the neighborhood. She starts singing this to me. I am in love with it. A song with letters that’s not the alphabet? CRAZY TALK. I even got up and sang it to my kindergarten class when we had finished learning our letters. Look at you, 5 year old Martina!

Paradise By The Dashboard Light – Meatloaf

It’s summer 1991, maybe 1992. Harriet and I are running around Brooklyn doing errands. Paradise (as I now call it) is blasting. I have no idea what any of it means but I could bop my head to it so I’m happy. Eventually we’ll switch to Cousin Brucie on the oldies station and I’ll whine that I’m hungry so we’ll stop at the luncheonette or Woolworth’s for a grilled cheese and a strawberry milkshake. If I’m feeling fresh, I’ll con Harriet into taking me to either the video store to rent Mary Martin’s Peter Pan or to the pharmacy to buy yet another book and tube of cherry or strawberry chapstick. Oh to be young and adorable again. Whenever I hear this song, I can almost feel the heat on my face, driving down Shore Road in Canarsie.

I could go on for days about songs and the memories they evoke but all good things must come to an end. To throw a bone, I’ll add this:

One Sweet Day

I don’t have a specific memory for this song, but to keep everything orderly… It’s 1995. I’m watching (probably) VH1. The One Sweet Day music video comes on. I stop what I’m doing and watch it from start to finish, transfixed. It’s still one of my Top 5 favorite music videos.

What song(s) instantly transport you to a different place and/or time?

Love you mean it,

Tagged , , , , , , ,