Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sixteen Again

Tonight I drove home from Austin by myself after attending a birthday party for one of my friends I worked with at UT. Traffic was light and I turned on XM Radio. The station is officially called "The Bridge - Classic 60's and 70's Folk Rock," but to me it is "The Soundtrack of My Teenage Years."

In the darkness I drift away. I am fourteen years old and Bread is singing "Everything I Own." I am hopelessly in love with Lee Roberts, who just wants to be "friends" with me. "I would give everything I own, give up my life, my heart, my home...just to have you back again."

Those 70's singer/songwriter boys, with their acoustic guitars, long hair and close harmonies, how I loved them -- James Taylor; Michael Murphy; Crosby, Stills & Nash (with and without Young.) They sang about me and to me, alone in my room, wearing the big, clunky headphones we used to have so I could turn it up as loud as I wanted. The sound reverberated in my head and stirred my soul. 

Back in my car I segue from Bread to Dave Loggins. "Please come to Boston for the springtime...." I know all the words, stored in the part of the brain that remembers music. I can't tell you the words but I can sing them. It is the strangest phenomenon. I hear the opening strands of Michael Murphy's "Wildfire" and smile, but I don't know the name of the song. The introduction is long, but even so, wracking my brain, I can't get the words out. But as soon as he begins to sing, my mouth opens and the words pour out, "She comes down from Yellow Mountain, on a dark flat land she rides, on a pony she named Wildfire, with a whirlwind by her side, on a cold Nebraska night."

I am nineteen years old, lying in one of the twin beds at my boyfriend's house. He is in the other bed, we both have the flu and are sick, sick, sick. He puts a Gordon Lightfoot album on and leaves the arm open, which makes the album automatically start over when it gets to the end. All day long we listen to Gord -- "Ribbon of Darkness," "Rainy Day People," "Early Morning Rain," "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald."

"Hello darkness my old friend. . . ." I am a senior in high school and have an assignment for a composition in English class. I have to write about independence and use the words from three examples of poetry, songs or short stories to illustrate my thoughts. Two of my choices are Simon and Garfunkel songs, "The Sound of Silence" and "I Am a Rock." I got an "A."

John Denver, "I had an uncle name of Matthew. He was his father's only boy. Born just south of Colby, Kansas. He was his mother's pride and joy." I loved this song so much that it became the name I would name my son. It didn't work out for me, but I gave it to my brother when his wife was expecting their second child. A boy, Matthew, now eleven years old.

I am singing harmony to "Teach Your Children Well," when I realize the traffic is picking up as I am nearing Wimberley and I need to pay attention. The soundtrack of the last hour has left me relaxed and pensive. I love this music and it touches me in a deep, essential way. It makes me realize that I need to spend more time with music, just like I used to, the days when I knew every song on the radio. I can never go back to those days, but I can log on to iTunes, load up my iPod and listen. Which is exactly what I intend to do.


  1. Sounds like you had a total melt down while driving home!....mabe that was a good thing??....I love to reminess....makes one's heart feel so good!

  2. Love this. I can relate (although to a decade earlier!)

  3. I was singing along with this post! Thank you.

  4. Annette, I loved this post because music affects me the same way. Anytime I hear an old song I'm transported to another moment in time, and I love the way music can do that.

    A song I associate with you is Don Henley's "The End of the Innocence." I remember riding with you in your car in Houston in the early '90s and that song was playing on the radio. Although, now that I think about it, you must have had the cassette tape, because you also played another Don Henley song for me. I don't know the name of it, but the lyrics were about Jesus and Elvis. Does any of that sound familiar?

  5. Linda, I love that whole Don Henley album; it is one of my all-time favorites. I don't remember specifically listening to it with you, but I have no doubt we did. That cassette stayed in my player for weeks at a time. The lyric you referenced is something like "I was flying back from Lubbock and saw Jesus on the plane. Or maybe it was Elvis, they kinda' look the same." The song is "If Dirt Were Dollars (I wouldn't worry anymore.)"