I’ve spent a lot of time in the car this past week. That means a lot of time listening to old mix tapes and scanning the radio.
One song after another brought back memories of the many years of my life, and transported me to another place and time as I sang along with the sound turned up as loud as I could stand it. From my elementary school years in the 1980s to high school in the 1990s and beyond, I pictured old friends, beautiful places, remembered fun times. And I even remembered music that didn’t play.
For instance, the only Duran Duran song I actually heard was Ordinary World, which came out in the ’90s. But as I listened to a station playing ’80s music, I remembered spending the night at Christina Walker’s house in fourth grade and listening to Rio and A View to a Kill, my two favorite Duran Duran songs ever. I recalled how we used to wear mini-jean skirts with black leggings, two or three layers of different colored scrunchy socks and high top Reebok sneakers. We thought we were just so cool, even though we were only 10 years old. We also shared a boyfriend, Brian Kelly, with our friend Heather Stranger. I guess we were our own mini version of Big Love back then.
The ’90s brought Grunge and Pearl Jam’s iconic album Ten. Jeremy is the most famous song off that album, but far from the best or my favorite. Black was what I listened to when I was sad over a boy. We listened to all of in in Roxanne Lyon’s car on the way to Ithaca or the mall (to flirt with the Marine Corps recruiters). Later, Roxanne bought Queen and the soundtrack to The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and we added those to our musical lineup (Touch-a touch-a touch-a touch me … I wanna be diiirty. Thrill me, chill me fulfill me, creature of the night). I still can’t hear any of that music without thinking of Roxanne and Melissa Martin. Melissa is still around, but Roxanne slipped out of our lives years ago.
We also used to listen to Ten in Melissa’s bedroom in the apartment her mother rented after she left her husband. We would burn incense and read Glamour and Cosmopolitan and talk, talk, talk. Then we’d head out to an Elmira Pioneers baseball game or the mall or wherever the spirit moved us that particular summer night. Because most of my memories are of the summer. No school, no responsibility. Complete freedom.
Some music transcends time. When I hear Come on Eileen, it takes me to St. Patrick’s Day every year in Elmira. And to Hogan’s Pub, one of many Irish bars in Elmira and Horseheads. I don’t think I ever went to that place and didn’t hear that song.
What songs bring back your best memories?