Whether you love or hate pop music, there are some songs you hear years or even decades later and can recall every event around that song that you automatically associate with a person, place or both. Honestly, everyone seems obsessed with 1980s music, but I generally loathe it. I much prefer the 1990s or even the 1970s. Granted, there are plenty of great songs from the 1980s I’d want to keep in my collection until the end of time, but I have to honestly say its my least favorite decade of music since I’ve been living.
So, I am just going to put some songs out there that can never leave my mind, heart or memory… some of them significant, others completely insignificant, but nonetheless, still with me every time I hear it played. They transfer me back to that very moment in time. I might not remember what I ate yesterday for dinner, but once I hear a song I can recall every thing from the clothes I had on, and who I was with and what was going on in great detail.
Any person can recall “Hotel California” by the Eagles and apply it to something. I heard The Eagles on the radio, LP, in concert, and even try to translate it to my cousins in Sicily. Any Beatles, Elvis or Sinatra song I remember from my youth, songs like that don’t have any striking memory, they are classics and timeless, whether it be my older brother, my father or my mother who loved to listen to them. However, its sometimes the one hit wonders which far more impact. It could have been a first or memorable girlfriend, or even a miserable experience, but here is my take… please comment on your experiences with these songs, I will try to keep them in chronological order, but I will be adding to it regularly.
The Carioca – So many artists have recorded this song as an instrumental, yet I cannot find the original I had on either 24rpm or 33LP, I would recognize the song instantly because this version had the Spanish maracas in it, I wish I could find that album, I would listen to it over and over again, and its ironic that it was a tell-tale sign that later in life I would fall in love with Brazil in spite of my Italian heritage.
Santana – I’m Winning: I was with my father at the famous Clairidge Diner in Verona that burned down several times (Jewish Lightning as they called it) but I wanted to sit at the bar with my father because he wanted a beer, but I was a kid and they would only let me sit at the end of the bar because I could not be served alcohol. My father was hip, he loved all music and that song was playing as we ate are burgers as to guys at the bar while the female bartender poured beer and let me take a sip.
Eagles – Heartache Tonight: One thing my brother and I had in common, is we loved railroad cars and railroad tracks. I remember he came home from out west one Christmas and the weather was mild enough for us to go hiking and that song was a hit and he was singing it. I know the Eagles are classics and timeless, but I will always remember that song when we were both teenagers out hiking, he was 9 years older than me, so maybe he was 21 and I was 13, but I remember us for the first time being in the same “period” of our lives at that point
Hall & Oats – I Can’t Go for That: Well, every one knows the song they first made love to, and the glory of this is, it could have been 1983 when it was a hit, or it could have been yesterday which would not reveal my age. If it had been “Witchcraft” by Frank Sinatra, that would have been early 1960s and obviously would disqualify my age as being 65 today. Just for the record, I am in my 40s, and yes, that song was a hit at the time.
Madonna – Holiday: I was in high school and quite frankly sick of all the tests, testing, exams, SATs, worrying about getting into college with my grades, and that song really rang true to me. I can tell you the exact desk I sat at in which classroom in that high school. All I can draw from that is “I need a holiday”. I was working in a metal factory which was 120F after classes just to pay for gas, burgers and perhaps college one day. It was somber for me, and while I don’t really care for Madonna, this is one of my favorite songs because its beautiful, its romantic and it reminds me of a desperate time in my life when I knew I had a holiday coming to me at some point.
El Debarge – I Wonder Who’s Holding Donna Now: Obviously this was my first girlfriend, and anytime I hear this song it reminds me of one of our numerous breakups, anytime I hear it in a supermarket or some strange radio station, I remember how I felt to be a teenager in love.
Erasure – Give A Little Respect: In college (MSU) we hung out every Wednesday at a place in Passaic called The Loop Lounge, and like Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’ this song would come on near the end of the night and we would be happy and joyful singing this song no matter how sober or drunk we were over Corona beers and Jaegermiester shots.
Enya – Only Time: While a haunting but moving song, its a horrible memory. It was the top hit of September 2001 when the World Trade Center Terrorist attacks occurred and that song was played over and over again while we watched images of jet airliners flying into the two greatest landmarks known around the world. They also used it as a trailer to a “Friends” episode, but even years after, they were using it for wedding videos. Some might think its beautiful, but I find it forever haunting and disturbing.
Macklemore – Thrift Shop: As a wedding photographer and videographer, I hear this song and just have to laugh, it gets the crowd going and at the end of a 12-hour day, with less than 10 minutes break for the entire day, the best we can hope for is a $20 tip. Now, sometimes we do get $50-100 and then we are very happy, because it pays for tolls, gas and dry cleaning, but $20 only pays for batteries at best. Its a funny and ironic song because most just spent $50,000 on a wedding but don’t even think or care to tip us $20 just to cover our gas for travel. Yes, we are paid a salary, but only the going rate of 5 years ago, time are tough, and this is when tips are especially appreciated, no matter how small. Even $20 in our pocket ends our night singing this song.
More to come… some obvious, some not so obvious, stay tuned… too many to list…