Note to self

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.

Go on.




Featured Image: Mark Solarski,



One Comment Add yours

  1. Ken Bauer says:

    Thanks for this Laura. I have a different soundtrack. My parents were definitely country & western with perhaps some folk music thrown in there but definitely with a Canadian focus.

    My introduction to rock was through my older brother and since I’m older than you my memories of music are time shifted a little. I don’t remember my crib but I do remember fragments of time before 2 years old. I always wonder why I think that is ‘normal’ when others just don’t believe I can remember those moments in time.

    Yes, music can transport me across time and space and often does. I’m pretty sure my daughter (15 now) has seen that and is starting to build some strong connections of her own to music. My old Nokia ring tone was “Piano Man” before we moved up to Canada in 2005. My daughter still remembers (that and we discussed how her friends reacted to her knowing the lyrics to that and so many more “oldies” when they play at parties and events.

    I’ll add that smells are powerful as well to me. Meals are remembered but also spaces such as that exhibit at the B.C. Provincial museum which had this wonderful smell of apples and nutmeg. This could be a much longer comment but I will leave it there.

    Thank you for sharing, I know and cherish some of these songs but some are not on my “soundtrack of life” and I will give them a listen.



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