Those who know such things say smell triggers memories quicker and stronger than any of the other senses.
Can't deny it, but for me, it's sound. Particularly the sound of music, if you'll pardon the pun.
You ever remember where you were the first time you heard a song? I had just made the turn into the big curve on Emory Road near Greenwell Drive when I first discovered Merle Haggard's "What Have You Got Planned Tonight Diana?" Somebody was playing it on the great, long-gone WGAP-FM ("World's Greatest Aluminum Plant!").
It hit me so hard, I nearly wrecked.
I was sitting somewhere in the UT Music Building when I first heard Miles Davis' "Flamenco Sketches." Music, life, how the weather was -- nothing was ever the same after "Kind of Blue."
I was at a joint downtown, one Sunday night nearly a decade ago accompanied by a girl with whom I attended high school, when I heard Robinella's "Teardrops." I had a near-religious experience. Killing me softly with her song, indeed.
And I was finishing a project in eighth-grade English class when the most beautiful voice
I'd ever heard came wafting in from the next room.
Long ago, and, oh, so far away; I fell in love with you before the second show..."
I would probably be expelled for doing this today, but I stood up, right in the middle of class, opened the partition, and asked the social studies teacher to identify the woman with the warm, ethereal voice.
It was Karen Carpenter.
I know it's all subjective, but I get angry at the scorn leveled at The Carpenters. If you don't like their music, no worries. But the cheap shots are musically ignorant. And the anorexia jokes are awful. Just plain awful.
Karen had the intangible quality that makes a singer a star. Those who were there say you could wake her up at 3 a.m. and she could sing on perfect pitch. And she had this timbre to her voice, this warmth, that gave you the illusion she was sitting in your lap, singing just for you.
And poor Richard. Always overlooked. But he was the man behind the curtain, the arranger, the musical genius who created their sound, the John Ford to Karen's John Wayne.
I went bonkers. Bought all of their albums. Later, I bought all of their CDs. Even the ones I had to get from England and Japan. And this was before Amazon and the Internet!
I wrote to their longtime secretary, Evelyn Wallace, whom we lost last August. She sent me a nice note in return and an unopened vinyl copy of their last U.S. studio album released during Karen's lifetime, "Made In America." It's still sealed.
Although I didn't care for all of it, I was tickled when several modern bands and singers released a tribute album, "If I Were A Carpenter," in the 1990s.
"Well," I said, "at least somebody gets it."
I devour music like others devour doughnuts. It is a companion when I'm lonely, it is solace for the soul, it is artistic inspiration, and, yes, it is a time machine.
Though it was long ago and, oh, so far away, sure enough, the song remembers when.