Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Musical memory tour


Turn 'em on, Turn 'em on, turn on those sad songs, When all hope is gone, you've got to tune in and turn them on. - Sad songs (Say so much) Elton John

It was playing on the radio as we drove back from Fairbanks International Airport - Sad Songs by Elton John. I'll never forget it. I was sitting next to a family friend and she was crying. She was crying because my cousin Jesse Jean, who had spent the summer with us and had become close friends to her, had just left to go back to Kansas. 

Driving back from lunch today I noticed Bohemian Rhapsody was on the radio. Without much thought, I leaned over and turned it up. Immediately visions of Wayne's World popped in to my head. 

Now, some folks might think it is a slight that visions of Freddie Mercury and the rest of Queen don't come to mind, but come on, the antics of the cast of Wayne's World in that little Pinto-like-car are unforgettable. 

I often have this problem, this musical association problem - I am sure many folks do. And, as the song was coming to an end and visions of Garth and Wayne floated back into the nether regions of my mind, I began thinking about other songs and their associations for me. 

I can not help but think about Hudson Hawk whenever I hear Bing Crosby sing Swinging on a Star. Bruce Willis and Danny Aiello are permanently burned into my mind for this one. This quickly became one of my favorite movies and prompted me to buy a collection of Bing Crosby hits on CD. It is one of my favorites to this day. 

A less than desirable memory is on of the song End of the Innocence by Don Henley. While the song wasn't about anything horrible as the title could possibly imply, its association for me is less than stellar. 

My siblings and I, along with our friends Mike Egan and Wendy Treakle, were all swimming at a local lake. A family that lived in the area left right as we arrived and a car, with some partying adults was parked further down from the swimming area. 

As was our custom, we all loaded up on the community paddle boat and headed out to the middle of the lake. It wasn't long before we were thrilled to be far away from the adults in the car. 

The car, a late model Cutless-looking sedan was gold in color. There was to men, both with beards and long hair, and one woman. All of them looked a little drug frazzled and alcohol juiced. Clearly the two men wanted something from the woman that she wasn't wanting to give up. 

At first we ignored it. Or tried to. But the sounds of the woman crying, the men's angry voices and that song (End of the Innocence) were hard to block out. We knew that we had to do something, especially when one of them mentioned a gun. It was agreed that Mike and Ben would stay with the younger kids, while Wendy and I slipped into the water, quietly swam back to shore and tried to go find help. 

Scared - I think I might have been 13 or 14 - Wendy and I made it to shore and began to quickly walk down the dirt road. The nearest phone was more than five miles away, but we were determined to get there. Luckily, the family that left the lake when we got there, came back to check on us - they were suspicious of the other occupants of the lake. 

We told them what was going on and they took us to a phone. We called the police and then went back to get my siblings. We also called my parents and told them. It was only a few minutes before the Police showed up. They were followed by my parents. 

Like I said, a less than desirable memory. 

Winds of Change, by Scorpions makes me remember my friend Scott Livingston and our performance at the Alaska State Fair. I was there more as a back-up vocalist and to help turn the pages for the keyboardist. Still, it was a lot of fun. We also sang the song Whole Hearted, by Extreme. There were more, but these are the ones that stick out. 

Mr. Jones by Counting Crows makes me think of my life-long best friend Harold McGrogan and our trip to California. 

I will never forget the first time I heard U2's Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For. It was in the back of my Dad's GMC pick-up. Mike Egan had it on cassette and was listening to it on his walkman. He gave it to me to listen, I was hooked and the memory emblazoned. 

Speaking of U2, I can't hear the song, MLK without thinking of my oldest son, Vincent, when he was only 2-years-old. I would sing it to him when he just couldn't give in to sleep. Usually sleep won. 

They say smells are strong reminders, I am thinking for me it's music. The truth is, I could go on and on, but, I think I have said enough. 

So turn them on, turn them up and create a memory.