Home Opinion COLUMN: Music and memories

COLUMN: Music and memories

While driving not long ago, I was listening to the car radio as I do on almost every drive. The only time the radio is not on is when I am on the phone. I don’t have one of those fancy setups that allow me to talk on the phone through the radio. My wife does, but she has a newer car. I have an old beater with a stereo that only works when you use FM radio. The CD player stopped playing a few weeks ago and I haven’t gotten around to taking the CDs out of the car. I listen to mostly classic rock or oldies stations wherever I am. I like the same music I liked when I was younger and I still listen to it now. 

Now and again, the radio station plays one of those songs that brings back memories. You know the song. It might bring back the memory of a dance or a family event. Often, the song will bring back the memory of a person. It might be happy or sad, but if the song is just right, the memory will be as vivid as if the event itself happened the day before. I think most generations have songs that stick with you. If they didn’t, the oldies stations would have nothing to play. I’m not talking about “Twist and Shout” or “Stayin’ Alive” or any of the 20 or so songs the oldies stations have in constant rotation. I’m talking about B sides or one-hit wonders. Songs that transport you to another time and place that only you remember. 

I remember many years ago, in high school, a slow dance with a girl I had no future with. It was a one-time date to a school dance and she had the unfortunate luck to go with me, a guy who does not dance. However, for two minutes and change, we had a moment under the lights to a live band performing “Under The Boardwalk.” We were in a high school gymnasium about a 100 miles away from any boardwalk, but for that two minutes, I could smell the salt air and hear the surf with a girl I never saw after that night. As far as the song itself goes, I can take it or leave it. Once in a while, I’ll hear it on the radio and I am 16 and awkward again. Sometimes, I wonder if that girl, whose name will not be mentioned in the paper, has the same memory.

When she was younger, I would drive my daughter to the school bus stop. We noticed a particular song was played a lot, and it became our bus-stop song. Every few days, we would hear “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart,” a hit song from 1976 for Elton John and Kiki Dee. It was a running joke with us for the longest time. We would hear it when we weren’t together, and we would take a quick video with our phones and text it to the other. Since she moved in November, once in a while I will text her “Don’t go breaking my heart” and she will text back, “I couldn’t if I tried.” It makes the distance between us seem not so great. 


This is where there would be a paragraph mentioning “Escape (The Pina Colada Song).” There already was a column about that and I think it would be unfair to Rupert Holmes to mention the song and that column since he was kind enough to send me a huge personalized autographed photo. I thought about sending one of me to him, but I don’t think the autographed pictures of newspaper columnists are in high demand. 

My wife and I don’t really have anything we consider “our song.” We have differing tastes in music most of the time and we usually switch the radio station back and forth when we are in the car together. It’s become a running joke with us that our song has about three seconds of about 20 songs each. It’s a hair band, country, classic rock, operatic standard. 


Joe Weaver, a native of Baltimore, is a husband, father, pawnbroker and gun collector. From his home in New Bern, he writes on the lighter side of family life.


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