Sometimes the little things have the most power over us. It could be a movie scene, a certain scent, or a familiar taste. For me, it’s often a song—especially lately.
Because the radio was free and we rarely had cable, music was always a big part of my life growing up. So just about any song from the 1980s or 1990s has some meaning, whether a specific relation to the lyrics, or simply an attachment in my mind to some event. Chaka Khan’s “I Feel for You” always means “Mississippi State Fair” to me. In the 1980s, they played it HEAVILY at all the rides that included music. “Come On Eileen” by Dexy’s Midnight Runners always has the feeling of zooming down an Interstate cloverleaf on the way to a friend’s birthday party, since that’s the first time I heard it.
More often the relations are larger, like an attachment to a family member or a certain period of time. Anything by The Cure reminds me of my cousin Tosha who died way too young. She was such a beautiful and happy teenager—at a time when I longed to be. There was a Cure poster on her bedroom door, and at the time I had never even heard of them. Tosha and her sister, Glenda, made me feel tragically uncool.
The Cranberries take me back to bitter times in the 1990s. I had gone off to Delaware for college and things didn’t quite work the way I had hoped. I was in debt and disillusioned when their first album hit the US, and I bought a copy at Rainbow Records just before I moved back to Mississippi. I was feeling defeated and only slightly optimistic for something better, which is how I view much of the music that came out of Ireland at the time.
The Cranberries also remind me of the adventures I had with my little brother, Kevin. I never had a lot of music, so I’d play some CDs over and over…and over again. Luckily he liked whatever I played back then. I can’t help but miss him a LOT when I hear some of the tunes we jammed to on the way to New Orleans or Red Bluff. I was happiest when we were on our adventures, something we’ll never have again. The memories evoked by certain music are really bittersweet—but I’d trade them for nothing.
Loading my new Sony Walkman MP3 player has been some kind of roller coaster ride lately. I’ve had to finally organize my digital library, so I’m listening to a lot of old music. But it’s a good thing—thanks to the music, I feel a bit reconnected.