Hey Laura –
You were raised in music, although not in the way suggested by Paul Simon; your mother really never laughed the way some ladies do, at least not around you. Nevertheless, her record collection from 1968 to 1972 was killer, and she trained up a music-loving child. Folk rock to pop rock to alt rock to classic rock to bluegrass to classical, I can’t remember a single day of your life that didn’t involve singing and dancing to the radio, the eight track, the record player, walkman, cd player, the ipod, iphone, Pandora, or Spotify.
The Cool Cool River. You instinctively got it, otherwise you wouldn’t have played it over and over again, sweating it out in the backseat of the car at the Waynesboro outlets. That’s your song. It always has been and probably always will be.
You get music, but you were raised to allow music to get to you.
Everyone connects songs to important events. For whatever reason, your song memories are most powerful when they connect to summer thunderstorms. Streets of Philadelphia (Fredericksburg, 1994). If Love Is a Red Dress (Williamsburg, 1995). These Arms of Mine (Toano, 1997). Proudest Monkey (Bland County, 2000). Maybe it’s the recollected heat and humidity, but these songs make it hard for you to breathe. They make you stop to lean against the wall, waiting for it all to pass. Wait. It will pass.
There are songs that take you further back, to other summers. No One is to Blame (Richmond, 1985). Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For (Hungry Mother State Park, 1987); Right Here Waiting for You (Wytheville, 1989), Rush, Rush (Kansas City, 1991). You can smell the chlorine, taste the hot dogs, see the jukebox, feel the sunburn coming off your cheeks. You breathe slower, feel calmer. These make you forget the world. Finally, you understand why old people like to listen to the songs of their childhood.
Music changes your mind; you count on its ability to do so.
End of the Innocence. You remember the summer it came out (Kansas City, 1989). You remember standing there in front of the TV, holding half a cheese sandwich, watching the video before setting off for public library. You’ve always liked it, but now you get it. Let’s not glamourize innocence; innocence is a lack of experience, and as such can be obstructing and frustrating. Knowledge isn’t bad, particularly if you use it well. It’s just…sometimes when you focus on what’s lost rather than what’s gained, it can ache a bit. This song acknowledges the ache.
Nevertheless, remember: You choose which way you look.
Featured Image: Mark Solarski, unsplash.com