If I want to go back to the good times from the past then I suppose all I’d have to do is go back to the music. I could do this because at one point, everything was about the music. Everything was about the times and the late nights or the long walks in the City, downtown. Or even uptown through Central Park. I have memories from everywhere and a soundtrack that fits this perfectly.
If I want to go back, all it would take is a random song to come on out of nowhere. Know what I mean? And almost instantly, I can remember the summer nights, down by the bars on water in Island Park. I can remember the outfits and the fashions, the feelings and the emotions.
All it takes is an old song from our youth and I can remember who I was. I can remember where I was and what I was thinking. I remember the different phases in my life, the different episodes of love (or the attempts at love) and the different stages of my growing youth — and even if the times were neither optimal nor perfect, somehow, the music made sense to me.
Music gives our memories the depths and shapes and feelings that can never be duplicated in any other way. This can recreate our pasts. This can link us to moments that we will never retrieve again; and although it was a while ago, I can say that I was young once. I danced along the blade of the razor’s edge. I lived wild and crazy and yet, I was only looking for an answer. I was looking for something. I was hoping for something that could allow me at least a semblance of understanding or empathy.
I can say that I remember the time when I was alone in my room. My only companion was a stereo—and this was cool because I could listen. I could enjoy. I could sing or dance or think and feel and this was fine because there was no one else in the room. There was no one to impress. There was no one to interrupt or intrude upon any of the colors of my emotion. There was only me and the music.
I can tell you that if we go back to the music, we can pinpoint the times of when we first met. We can pinpoint different items in our life and moments in time and then miraculously, almost randomly, a song plays out of nowhere and then bursts the seams of our memory; and you think to yourself, almost out loud, and you say “Remember?”
I will say that it is amazing to see how time flies. It is amazing to think about music we listened to. We look back to see what date the music was released—and astonished, we think to ourselves, “Really?” because so many years have passed since then.
Movies are this way too. I can say that somehow, there are movies from my youth that come on television at perfect times. I can say there are music and shows and movies and all of them remind me of something, which is mainly of you or, perhaps this reminds me of me or of the nights I wondered if I’d ever find whatever it is I was looking for.
I admit that not all songs link me back to positive thoughts or beneficial times, but yet, the songs play on and I can remember my tiny little victories. I remember the rebellions of my youth,
I can remember a morning when the frost was on the grass. I had just finished a wild night of psychedelic confusions on spent hours something we used to call “Purple, double-barrels.”
And for hours, the world took a bizarre turn. My vision was promoted to a new sense of hallucination and anything that moved was followed by trails of its existence.
The insanity was induced and for approximately eight-hours long, my mind was filled with hysterical confusion. I accompanied this with whatever beer we could swipe or liquor we could drink. I smoked Marlboro Reds at the time. I had a little pipe in my pocket (also known as a bowl) which we smoked throughout the night. This was all part of some crazy rebellion, which is unalterable to me and certainly not advisable—but in all honesty, this is why kids get high. They want to have that crazy ride and to be out of this world. They want to feel the lights and the music and to feel the thrill of not caring or of not giving a shit; and nothing could stop this, and no one could hurt me because the music played on. The songs laced the night with intertwined memories and melodies that made sense to me. Pain or not, I could bleed and nothing would matter because I was free.
I remember the morning after; I walked home while the sun was rising. My walk originated from the open field behind my town’s junior high school. I had my headphones on. The frost on the grass was amazing to me. The cold wind on my face was perfect and the yolk of the sun was emerging from the palm of the horizon. Admittedly, although in trouble, I knew there was something about this moment. I knew there was something about this memory that would never go away. The song was Tuesday’s Gone by Lynyrd Skynyrd.
I was protected, in a sense. I was more than euphoric. I was more than young and untamable. I was searching and looking and most often, I had no words or language to say what I thought or felt.
But that was okay because I had music to sing for me. I had music that spoke for me and above all, there were songs that understood, which meant that somewhere, somehow, there was understanding.
And then there was Mom. Then there was the last time I remember a dance with my Mom. The song is called Times of Your Life by Paul Anka—and his lyrics are true, “You wake up and time has slipped away.”
And then he sings, “Here comes the saddest part — the seasons are passing one by one. So gather moments while you may, collect the dreams you dream today. Remember. Will you remember?”
I can say that yes, I most certainly do.
I remember the shows. I remember the bright lights of the concert halls. I can remember the tunes and I remember screaming as loud as I could. I can remember feeling every note and finally, above all, I remember the freedom that comes when the song plays.
I can say that all I need is to hear the music and I can go back; as if this were a time machine. I can think and I can feel and I can laugh and smile, and yes, I can cry as well because I am free to. Songs can climb into my head without knocking. I can say this for sure; and that’s fine with me.
This is beautiful. No, wait. This is freedom.
There are times when my mind becomes cluttered. And there are songs that I hear which help me. There are songs that act like my perfect penicillin—and are just what the doctor ordered. I can hear the lyrics and feel the chords and I can heal because this is what art does—it’s a voice; it’s a statement.
No, it’s a call to the sky and breath of fresh air in an otherwise stagnant time. So, in answer to a question, “Can music save your life,” I can say “Yes.” because I know there were times when it saved mine.
I have left this here for you before but I wanted to leave this here for you again. Regardless of your genre or your gender or your generation, this is something I listen to that allows me to smile, feel, embrace the nostalgia, relax and even weep, if I choose. But either way, this is healing to me. I hope this has the same magic for you. So close your eyes and give a listen. I look forward to hearing what this meant to you.
An elegant paean to the power of music.
Thank you for sharing the song and those wonderful Paul Anka lyrics.. those kind of musical memories are so imbued with feeling, one of the reasons music is just so healing and powerful.