That Song

We’ve all been there.  A song comes on the radio and you are transported somewhere immediately.  Some other point in time.  Another place in your life directly connected to ‘that song’.  The memory is visceral and vivid.

You might not recall the details of a conversation you had with someone an hour ago, but when you hear ‘that song’, you not only remember every single lyric, every arc in the melody, but you also recall the very real emotions that accompanied them as well.

Yesterday, this for me was ‘that song’

Classic 80s.  Took me right back to being with my best friend K.E.L. our ears pressed against my older sister’s bedroom door as she played this song on her cassette player over and over again.  She was 16 and had a boy in her room. A cute boy.  We were not sixteen and we were dying to know what it felt like to be in her shoes.  I was wearing white shorts and a baggy yellow tank top with the words RELAX emblazoned in black letters on the front. My long hair was pulled into a high ponytail with bangs/fringe back combed meticulously, sprouting forth like a tangled fountain.  K.E.L. had silky brown hair cut in a bob, braces, scuffed keds and the magical ability to make me laugh so hard I thought I would pee in my pants.  The tiles in the bathroom I shared with my sister were teal green and some of them had colourful exotic fish embossed onto them – decor inherited from the previous owner.  My lipstick was opalescent pink.  I was filled with curiosity and envy. My sister’s perfume was Anais Anais, a sickly sweet fragrance with pale, soft petaled flowers adorning the bottle.

Details.  They came tumbling at me avalanche style the moment I heard ‘that song’.

It’s all in the details.

What is ‘that song’ for you?  Have you heard it recently? Can you find it and listen to it.  Open your mind and heart up to all the particulars of the time it takes you to.  Write down the details.  The more the better.  No matter how trivial.  Keep your pen moving as you take a journey in your time machine.  Listen to it one more time.  You might be surprised at what else comes back to you.

Write for at least ten minutes.  Longer if you wish.

Bon voyage!


11 Responses to “That Song”

  1. Kristin
    January 19, 2012 at 4:21 pm #

    I'm inspired! "Like a Virgin" popped up on Pandora the other day and I was immediately sixteen and wearing a tomato red sweater dress with a chunky crystal necklace & fringe boots…wow… there is so much wrong with that outfit…

  2. Beth
    January 19, 2012 at 9:16 pm #

    Shining Star, by the Manhattans… "You, are my shining star, don't you go away…. oh oh baby…." We are 12. It's Maine the summer, at a summer camp social. My friend Kathy Slavin is slow dancing with the hottest guy there… his name was Cory or Evan or Allen. Strangely enough, he had that straight long Justin Bieber hair pushed to the side. I was not dancing and I was very jealous. She always seemed to get the boys, but she did have bigger boobs than me. It was all about who had bigger boobs then.I guess it still is!

  3. Dena Young
    January 21, 2012 at 2:23 am #

    I have so many of those songs but what immediately comes to mind is Dave Matthews "The Space Between." My mom, sister and I had taken a trip to Hawaii together – 6 months after the death of my father. I was sitting on a chaise lounge on the beach of our favorite hotel and was wearing a bright orange bikini with three little white flowers on it. I had my walkman on (yes, pre-ipod) and a mai tai in my hand. The sun was setting and I was staring out at the most amazing beach in the world. I felt a calm pass over me. It was the first time after my dad died that I felt at peace. I can still feel the release. Still, to this day, whenever I hear that song I am completely transported back to that beach and that time and a calm takes over me.

  4. Kay
    January 21, 2012 at 10:03 am #

    My song is 'Rio' Duran Duran. I was 16, had effectively left home for the first time to go to a boarding school for my A levels and was beginning that painful and exciting process of separating from my parents. My mother had been ill and my 'adolescence' was more than she could cope with at that time. Instead of going home one 'exeat' weekend, I took the train from Reading to London and stayed with my cousins who were far cooler and more sophisticated and streetwise than me. It was exciting and we were going to meet boys! I was nervous, however, and a little awkward, but had found a small seed of daring and assurance having visited family in America on my own that summer. My (slightly older cousin) gave me a tape (yes! cassette!!) of the album Rio and I listened to it on my Walkman over and over again. The possibility of 'dancing in the sand' seemed somehow in my reach and yet still so far away. It was like a promise of the freedom that adulthood brought, and confidence that I was yet to make mine. Each time I hear it now, I am transported back to that precarious state of teetering between the childhood desire to be wrapped up in my mother's arms, and the womanly desire to be independent and strong, and to be seen dancing.

  5. Lou
    January 21, 2012 at 10:34 am #

    Come on Eileen – Dexy's Midnight Runners. 17 years old. my hair was crimped so much it was virtually solid in parts, and my denim poivre blanc dungarees had one of the straps unbuckled, dangling down in a rebelish way. Dancing was not an option – it was marching and saluting. Probably the hardest song to dance to in the world, but it made everyone happy and charge to the dance floor. I never knew anyone called Eileen – still don't but that song made what is probably the worst name in the world cool. Too rah too rah too rah ay…..

  6. Anonymous
    January 21, 2012 at 10:40 pm #

    Stevie Wonder – Superstition – The Whole AlbumI relive summers past where we ended up dancing in the middle of the afternoon, with pots and pans as drums, blasting the music and not a care. I can smell the dry heat of mid summer and feel the bricks under my feet. These songs bring a huge smile to my face as the cold winter trys to engulf me.

  7. Jenn
    January 22, 2012 at 1:47 am #

    Inside you, the time moves and she don't fadeThe ghost in you, she don't fadeInside you, the time moves and she don't fadeA race is on, I'm on your side And hearing you my engines dieI'm in a mood for you, or running awayStars come down in you – and love, love, loveYou can't give it away …The Ghost in You by the Psychadelic Furs resurrects a lifetime from when I was 16, the way that back then a summer could constitute a lifetime. My hair never seemed to dry that summer and my skin always smelled and tasted of sea salt and chlorine, inexplicably intoxicating. The rooms of my house soaked up the fragrance of the fat gardenia blooms my mom cut first thing every morning and placed everywhere in vases, dishes, and even in my sterling silver baby cup. It was 1984 and the Olympics were in LA and I had my first job, working in a French bakery. I was given the evening shift because I proved more responsible than the cool recently-graduated seniors who also worked there and whose popularity rendered me speechless even as they stole Oranginas, pastries, and money from the store. By day I was on the sand with my friends at Station 16, buying Big Sticks from a guy who walked up and down the beach with a foam ice chest. I nursed crushes on a dozen boys who appeared at the edges of our beach towels, splashed us in the waves, and spoke of parties later that night at the top of Lachman, Kenter, and on the bluffs. I felt so confident, posturing in front of them from behind my Ray-Ban Wayfarers and laughing knowingly with my girlfriends. Most days I left the beach only when my mom had to park her car above the ice plants at the edge of the parking lot and call my name to tell me it was time to come home. Her voice carrying the name of my youth across the sand – "JENNY!" – usually reached my ears as the sun was dipping toward the water and I felt fatigued with sun. This was years before cell phones and I was so lucky to have a mom who saw and loved in me the same beach-bound girl she had been in that same ocean-side town, twenty-five years before. And everywhere, in the cassette tape player we positioned on our beach chairs, in the speakers of my mom's white Volvo station wagon, and on the radio of the bakery where I worked at night, the station set to 106.7 KROQ, The Furs' Ghost in You was playing. It was the thread that sewed together my life that summer. All these years later, that song resurrects the ghost of me at 16 and puts me back on the beach, so in love with the sun & water & my friends & smiling boys & the exciting possibility of what would come next, and always listening for my mom's voice calling me home.

  8. Carla
    January 22, 2012 at 2:52 pm #

    So many. Strange how now that I'm thinking about it, my whole youth can be catalogued by songs, but those magical musical moments seem to have tailed off as adulthood set in? Morrisey's 'That's Entertainment' takes me back to being an angst ridden teenager, glued to my radio every night, trying to tape all the 'cool' songs as I didn't money to buy any tapes. I would often listen to Morrisey's songs, write down the lyrics, with tears running down my face, feeling sorry for my self! Oh the self-indulgence of youth. The memories even go as far back as when I was a child, and I watched my mother listening to and enjoying her favourite songs; those songs have transposed into my life. These days, as I dance and and sing songs form Adele and The Beatles to my baby girl, I wonder if she will remember these musical moments?

  9. Anonymous
    April 24, 2012 at 7:57 pm #

    SONGS- by Karen H. (part 1 of 3)There are so many songs that take me back to different times in my life, especially my childhood.The Beatles, "Yellow Submarine" puts me in my Dad's big yellow van with my four older siblings driving all over Los Angeles on our adventurous weekends with him. Carly Simon's voice singing "I bet you think this song is about you, don't you, don't you," takes me there too. I loved to imagine the clouds in her coffee as I lay on the floor in the back where the seats would have been. "Send in the Clowns, there ought to be clowns, well maybe next year," I'm back in Mom's peach-colored Mercedes hearing Judy Collins on the stereo as Mom drives me to school wearing her wool coat over her tennis outfit, ready to play in the morning chill.Elton John, "Bennie and the Jets" reminds me of dancing in the living room of Dad's girlfriend Carolyn's house in Encino. She had five kids too, so it was always like a party on those weekends. Dad loved to take us all to the movies. Even though I didn't understand most of what we saw, I was easily entertained by the music in them. "Car Wash" was the first single I bought with my allowance at Tower Records in Westwood after we left the theater. I was all of seven years old. My favorite movies were anything with James Bond in them. "Live and Let Die" is still my all time favorite song from a soundtrack. My older sister Marie got a new stereo and a brown wrap around polyester skirt for her thirteenth birthday. She played James Taylor's JT album over and over again. We especially loved to sing "Whenever I see your smiling face, I have to smile myself, because I love you." And when she'd play the Bee Gees' album, we'd pretend we were at the disco Dillons in Westwood and dance on our beds. "Night fever, night fever, we know how to do it."A month after Marie's fourteenth birthday, "Ava Maria" was sung by a woman in the balcony above the crowded congregation at St. Paul's, as we sat in the front pew next to our mother's coffin. Whenever I hear it, I am shot right back to that moment and the feelings of grief that engulfed my body. I find it comforting to listen to, even though it brings up that deep sadness. The Doobie Brothers singing "Jesus is just all right with me," takes me back to our big brown family van. Tom drove it most of the time and eventually into a tree on Sunset Boulevard in the middle of the night. He walked home and went to bed. He was sixteen. The Police woke Dad up a few hours later and Dad's yelling at Tom woke the rest of us. Dad's rage must have been mixed with relief to find Tom asleep in his bed, since the police had told him the van was totaled.

  10. Anonymous
    April 24, 2012 at 7:58 pm #

    Songs – by Karen H. continued (part 2 of 3)Hearing Willie Nelson sing anything reminds me of Dad, but especially when I hear "Maybe I never told you, quiet as often as I should have, you were always on my mind." He'd always sing along, and I just knew he was thinking about mom, but I never asked.My oldest brother Brad liked to listen to his music on huge headphones with his door closed. Probably because Tom's music blared through the house on the big speakers he had in his room. I'm not sure what Brad liked to listen to, but we all knew what Tom liked. I feel like I spent most of my childhood with the muffled music of The Rolling Stones coming from down the hall. When I was eleven, The Rolling Stones played at the LA Coliseum, and all three of my brothers got to go. I'll never forget that Sunday because it was the first time I met my brother Mark's new friend, Steven, who was going with them. Steven got my attention right away because he wasn't dressed like any of Mark's other friends. His white t-shirt was ripped at the sleeves, his blonde hair was spiked straight up and he was wearing a black leather bracelet with spikes on it. Steven was two years older than me and had no idea I was alive, even though I was sitting on the couch just across from him. It was the perfect ingredients for my Catholic schoolgirl crush to ignite right then and there. I started to listen to The Rolling Stones with more affection from then on. After Tom wrecked the van, Dad bought a Volvo station wagon. I remember The Police seemed to be forever playing in the tape deck. Whenever Tom would approach a stop sign he'd roll the Volvo slowly forward while looking both ways and announce to us over the music, "No cop. No stop." And then he'd sing along with The Police as he accelerated through the intersection, "De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da, is all I want to say to you."When I was twelve, I became friends with a shy girl from London who is still my best friend these thirty years later. She brought music from across the pond with her, right when I was starting to be less influenced by my older siblings tastes. All the bands had funny sounding names; Haircut 100, Aztec Camera, The (English) Beat, Roxy Music, Yazoo, Kajagoogoo, Madness, Scritti Politti, The Human League, The Talking Heads, The Smiths, The Thompson Twins, Wham. I could go on and on. The song that reminds me of Rory during that time the most was one I'd already known. But she put it on a mixed tape for me and brought it back to life. "Space Oddity" by David Bowie. It's no wonder we became friends, we were both fish out of water in those days. She was the shy girl with the British accent and glasses, and I was the sad girl with no mom and braces. Kim Budd was my best friend on and off since the first grade. I lost touch with her in high school when she moved away. She was always way beyond her years, a very deep thinker and a talented poet. When we were in eighth grade, she persuaded me to sing along with her while she played "The Rose" on the piano for our class. It's the only time I've ever sung publically. "Just remember in the Winter, far beneath the bitter snows, lies the seed that with the suns love, in the Spring becomes the rose." When I hear that now, I can't help but think that she forgot to remember. Kim committed suicide when we were twenty-two.

  11. Anonymous
    April 24, 2012 at 7:59 pm #

    Songs- by Karen H. conitued (part 3 of 3)Any Depeche Mode song puts me in Mark's silver Volkswagen Scirocco in 1983. We rarely spoke while he sped us around West LA because the music was blasting so loud, but one conversation I remember clearly was on Wilshire Boulevard on a hot August day. I was squeezed in the back, as usual, because Steven was up front. Mark was telling me that I needed to get some cooler sunglasses now that I was going to high school. Steven agreed. They had to be Ray-Bans, obviously.In 1985, in the middle of the tenth grade, I left to go 3,000 miles from home to a boarding school in Massachusetts. Every night I fell asleep in my dorm room listening to Aztec Camera on the tape deck beside my bed. All the other students seemed to be stuck in the early seventies listening to boot legged tapes of The Grateful Dead and Crosby, Stills and Nash. They were a lot more curious about my tastes in music than I was in there's. "I hear your footsteps in the street, wont be long before we meet, it's obvious. Just count me in and count me out, and I'll be waiting for a shout, oblivious." Oblivious is how I feel I spent most of my teen years. But I'm happy to be transported back to those times whenever I hear one of those songs now.

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