Saturday, March 25, 2006

The song remembers when

It happened this morning, while light snow was falling on my lawn. Snow in springtime --- you gotta be kidding me.

I was minding my own business. Just getting some things done. You know how you do on Saturdays.

And then it happened.

"No, I don't care/ If I'm not the first love you've known/Just so I'll be the last."

Suddenly I'm five years old again, riding in Mom's Buick, listening (of course) to WIVK. She's still quite young, dark-headed and beautiful. My biggest worry is whether to eat peanut butter and jelly or ham for lunch.

Funny how a song can take you back. With some people, it's a smell. Or a laugh. Or the sound of a locker slamming. With me, it's music.

I bet I hadn't thought about that old Skaggs tune in 20 years. But suddenly I was back there, wearing my velcro shoes and alligator shirt, waiting eagerly for Dad to bring me some Animal Crackers home from work.

My, my, my.

This happened to me about this time last year. I watch movies to keep the Black Dog at bay. Whenever he nips at my heels, I head for either the multiplex or the DVD player.

One night last winter, the movie was "Texasville," Peter Bogdanovich's 1990 update of his and Larry McMurtry's superb 1971 classic "The Last Picture Show." Early on in the soundtrack, popping up like a long lost uncle, was the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.

"But I'll just keep on dreaming that a song that I was singing/Takes me down the road to where my name is known/Now I'm gone/And it's a long hard road..."

I'm about 8 and we're riding down Andersonville Pike in Dad's Toyota. I slide my legs out of the way when Dad punches on the clutch to shift down for the stop sign. I cherished those Wednesday nights and every-other-weekends. Even under the easiest of circumstances, it's tough on a kid to be without his dad.

Sometimes the memories aren't so good. An old Gospel song, about angels and ladders, makes me think about a situation I still to this day thank God for delivering me from.

More often the thoughts are bittersweet. A sappy Barry Manilow tune makes me wonder about a blue-eyed, raven-haired girl who faded away one day with the morning mist. "Even now/When I have come so far/I wonder where you are..."

A Kenny Rogers duet brings to mind the symbolism behind that elusive, blinking green light in "The Great Gatsby." So close, and so far away.

The ringing phone brings me back to reality. It's just as well. Sometimes I wish the sad country song wasn't so true:

"Cause even if the whole world has forgotten, the song remembers when..."

Don't laugh. It makes as least as much sense as snow in springtime.

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