It seems this time of year is defined by the music we hear. It’s on the radio and television commercials use Christmas songs as background music or as a way to sell the consumer everything from cars and exercise equipment to catheters and incontinence supplies delivered discretely to you home and charged to Medicare. The songs are supposed to remind us of times past, or friends, or places or something pleasant so we are in the mood to spend money.
That got me to thinking. I don’t sleep much and I’m usually awake around 3am. I may go back to sleep around the time I need to get up, but from 3 to 6 I do what I call my “creative thinking.” This is when I remodel my bathroom, tell that guy at the grocery store back in 1973 what he could have done with that cart he thought I hit his car with and important things like that…or…I watch television. Have you ever watched TV at 3am? I have every cable channel known to man and the best I can do is fifty channels selling me everything from oil-less fryers, to cosmetics guaranteed to eliminate wrinkles to a course on how to make a million dollars in the stock market. If I don’t watch those, and I’m lucky there is an NPR station showing an old rock and roll review between pitches for a fifteen CD set of all of their music, or a CW series or Celtic or Soul or some other decade of music. Now to the point of this. I knew you were waiting.
Those songs immediately bring back memories for me. I didn’t realize how much of my life was tied to a song. I hear one and I go back to the memory that song evokes, and I’ll bet it happens for you as well. What song reminds you of your first love? How about the one when you realized he/she didn’t love you as much as you thought? My parents were the Great Depression and WWII generation and when they heard an old song on the radio or the Lawrence Welk Show (not me…they watched it, I just suffered through it) they would always comment about “remember when…” and it was usually a pleasant memory unless it was a popular tune during the war and was a favorite of a long lost friend.
What did you listen to in high school? College? What did you dance to at your first prom? That song you played on your record player, 8 track, cassette player or CD when you and he/she always…fill in the blank.
For me, and I’ll bet two songs that have a universal meaning for anyone who served in Viet Nam. They were almost as popular as the National Anthem. It didn’t matter if we heard it on AFVN, on somebody’s cassette player or from a band with singers who could barely pronounce the words, when WE GOTTA GET OUT OF THIS PLACE IF IT’S THE LAST THING WE EVER DO, or I WANNA GO HOME came on we stood, yelled, sang along and generally made fools of ourselves, but we meant every word of it. Most of us got out of that place, and got home but many didn’t and those songs will always remind me of them.
My good friend Lieutenant Bill….was a Charlie Pride fan and drove us nuts playing his songs all the time. Bill was captured alive one day and when the prisoners came home I looked for him. I scanned the names of those who had died in captivity. He wasn’t on either list. Someday, I hope and pray that he gets to GET OUTTA THAT PLACE…