What’s the soundtrack of your life?
My mother made a comment about the song “Summer Breeze” by Hall & Oates the other day. For a woman who never shares stories about her past, she went into vivid detail about where she was and what she was doing the year that song hit the charts. It made me think I’m not the only one who chronicles moments of their life with music. So here’s some of my moments in music history:
1. “Break My Stride” by Matthew Wilder
It was 1998 and my Busia (grandmother) had just passed away. My older sister, my two cousins, my uncle, and I were all told we would be the pole-bearers at her funeral. We were riding to the cemetery in a special car assigned to us by the funeral home – my cousin Ryan was driving. We all knew the owner of the funeral parlor, Jimmy, an elderly man who had been a good friend of my grandmother’s and seemed about 100 years old to us at the time. Ryan, likely nervous due to driving in the procession while the rest of us sat in the car in silence said, “I wonder what kind of music Jimmy listens to”, and flipped on the radio. The song “Break My Stride” blared out of the speakers and all of us instantly began to laugh at the thought of this elderly funeral director jamming out to such a song during funerals (even though we knew this was highly unlikely). We pulled up to the cemetery and as we were carrying my Busia over to the site where friends and family awaited somberly, I lost it. I tried so hard not to laugh, but had this stupid song stuck in my head. My sister and cousins began to laugh, as well, and I hate to think what the onlookers thought. All I knew is that if my Busia had been there…she would have been laughing along with us too. She had a great sense of humor.
That Christmas, I decided to get a copy of that song for my sister and each of my cousins, since it was the first year without our Busia. This was before you could easily order anything on the internet or search for it. I had to go to three different music stores (which still sold records at the time, by the way) and ask the clerk to find the song. The first clerk didn’t know and I had to sing part of the song. She began to sing along, going, “Oh! I know that song… I know, I know it!” They only had one copy. I went to the next store and like de-ja-vus the clerk there asked me to sing a few lines. He began to snap his fingers and hum. He said, “Oh! I know that song! What is it?” He called his co-worker over, who began to sing with him. How humiliating I thought, as I stood there being serenaded about a song that I should not have listened to at my grandmother’s funeral. So…some moments completely change the sentiment of a song for you, and that forever will be one of mine.
2. “Roxanne” by The Police
It was 2006 and I was on Active duty in the Army. My friends Jake and Matty met up with a buddy of ours, Ron, who came into town from another base. We hadn’t all been together in a while and knew we were all due to deploy to different places so we wanted to do something fun and went to the Riverwalk in San Antonio. After stopping by a few bars, Ron and I decided we’d like to check out a less popular piano bar that we found. Matty and Jake protested in a very fine display of machismo, however, they lost the fight. The piano players began to play “Roxanne” and Jake and Matty, having had enough of the piano bar, decided in secret that if they embarrassed us enough, Ron and I would leave willingly. Each time the singers said “Roxanne”, Matty and Jake bellowed the name at the tops of their lungs, causing them to be heard throughout the entire bar…very off-key I might add. They kept it up and then basically had a battle between the two of them who could yell “Roxanne” louder, faster, and more off-key than the other. Ron and I would have ran for the door, but we were bent over crying in laughter and waiting to see if they would get their asses kicked by the other patrons. Now when I hear “Roxanne”, I have the urge to scream it at the top of my lungs like an alley cat getting laid in the middle of the night.
3. “I Think I Love You” by The Partridge Family
1997. I was in the backseat of a car, driven by my friend’s boyfriend. She was in the front passenger seat. She had just discovered the song, “I Think I Love You” and as girls can sometimes do, became obsessed with it, wanting to play it over and over again. It was a cassette and she had to hit the replay/quick rewind button each time, if you remember those made an obnoxious squeal sound. After she’d played it for about the fourth time in a row, in spite of her boyfriend’s protests, he reached for the cassette, ripped it out of the player, and whipped it out the window. It was a total jerk thing to do, I know, but I still had to try and hold it together so I wouldn’t pee my pants. Eventually, she realized she didn’t “think” she loved him and they broke up. No one knows where that cassette is to this day. The end.
4. “Schticks Of One And A Half Dozen Of The Other” by Allen Sherman
This is a long tune, but believe me it’s worth it. No matter how many times I’ve heard it or how blue I am, this can always put a smile on my face. My father often got his records out and would play them for whomever would listen. Usually, it was just me, but when he’d put Allen Sherman on the rest of my sisters would laugh, sing along, and dance around. To this day, on holidays, someone sometimes gets the Allen Sherman out and we play them.
The second memory this tune brings to mind is New Year’s Eve. I have spent many New Year’s Eves alone, usually because I’ve been working. Some people seem to let this depress them, but no matter where I am, even if I don’t have a way to play this song, I sing it “on the dot” right at midnight. It is to the melody of “Auld Lang Syne”. Here is the line, “I know a man whose name is Lang and he has a neon sign. And Mr. Lang is very old, so they call it Old Lang’s sign.” I’m a ham, I know 😉
I could go on with this list, but you get the point. What are some of the songs to the soundtrack of your life?