I recently asked my husband to give me his top 10 favorite songs of all time. I won’t mention his proclivity for overcomplicating requests even as simple as this. However, I will note that he asked for reciprocity. If he was going to divulge his top ten, he wanted to know mine. This made me start thinking, and a familiar thought occurred to me. It really is amazing how certain scents and songs can take you back to a specific time and place.
A lot of references in this post probably won’t make much sense or be significant to many of you. For those that do get them, enjoy.
Every couple has “their” song. Todd and I do not. That we have vastly differing musical tastes could be a direct contributing factor to that. However, as we prepared for our wedding, we realized we needed a song for our first dance. Not yet having a particular song that held special meaning for us, we chose an old standard, At Last by Etta James.
Now, whenever I hear that song, it is not our wedding that pops up from the memory bank. Instead it is the countless hours we spent practicing our first dance with our choreographer.
We were still living in our Strongsville house, had just moved in actually. After our initial 3 sessions at the dance school, we had convinced her to give us lessons at home for a reduced cost rather than purchasing more through the school. We pushed all the furniture in the living room aside to make room. We were learning how to do the International Rumba. We had burned a CD that had the song on it like 13 times, so that when we practiced it would just keep playing over and over.
Being the geniuses we are, we had the CD player in the family room, which was a short flight of stairs away, yet we were practicing in the living room. And every time our intructor had us stop, Todd had to run downtair to pause the CD, then run back down again when we were ready to restart. As I write this now, I wonder why it never ocurred to us to use the remote that came with the little CD stereo system.
Other songs are deeply rooted in my memory as a part of high school. And really, there seem to be both songs and smells that take me back to that particular time.
The summer before eighth grade, my best friend Robyn and I went down to King’s Island with my mom and her friend. For some reason we were obcessed with the song “Humpty Dance,” particularly the line that goes “I once got busy in a Burger King bathroom.”
I think it was right around that same time that all the boys were wearing Drakkar Noir. These days you don’t really encounter anyone wearing that particular scent, but every once in a while I catch a whiff of it and I remember being at the Metroparks with Jamie Nieberding as he carved “Jamie loves Lilia” into a tree.
B’nai B’rith Youth Organization (BBYO) was a big part of my life, age 14-18. The Ohio Northern Region (ONR), had a regional convention every year. Kids from the 7 cities that comprised the ONR would gather at a hotel for 4 days and basically engage in a lot of tomfoolery. (Yes, I said tomfoolery). The real purpose of the weekend was to elect a new regional board and bid farewell to graduating seniors. Once you were out of high school they didn’t want you anymore. I mean it was a YOUTH organization, so I guess being 25 and still hanging out would have been creepy.
Anyway, at my first regional convention, the outgoing Aleph Godol (I think that’s right) or president, was a particularly well-liked guy named Brian, I wanna say, Bloomfield. During his goodbye speech, there was not a dry eye in the room. Looking back now, we were all crying as if we were mourning a death. The kid was just going off to college! Anyway, during and after his speech, Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven” was playing.
I cannot hear that song without thinking of that exact moment in time, and even getting a little emotional. We were in a hotel ballroom in Richfield, OH. The lights were dimmed, the seats were full, and the tears were flowing.
One little plug I will give BBYO is that you form incredible bonds, share amazing experiences, and create memories that will last a lifetime.
While some songs bring about happy memories, others do quite the opposite. Maybe I am rewriting history, but a particular song seems to stand out from senior year. We were only about a week or two into our senior year, the year we would rule the school, when we heard news of a horrible accident. Three students from our school had been involved in a crash that killed two and temporarily paralyzed one. The two seniors that passed away were two of the nicest kids you could ever hope to meet.
For many of us, that was our first time dealing with the death of someone our own age. Again, maybe I am imagining it, but every time I hear Candle Box’s “Far Behind,” I think of Shawn Butler and Jason Galatis and two lives that were cut way too short.
After senior year came college. My mother and I had battled back and forth and had finally come to a compromise; I was allowed to go away to school, but I had to stay in state. So being the good Jewish girl I am (see BBYO above), I chose Xavier, a Jesuit school.
(Sidebar: when I told my dad I was going to a Jesuit college, the first thing he asked me was how I was going to meet a nice Jewish boy there. Because that is why we all go to college, right?)
Anyway, prior to my leaving for college, one of our favorite pastimes was to watch Beverly Hills, 90210 and Melrose Place together. We had a rule that we were only allowed to talk during the commercial breaks. This was, of course, pre-Tivo.
Well when I went away to school, that was one thing that didn’t change. We still watched 90210 and Melrose. Only now, instead of turning to each other and talking about it, we would call each other during the commercial breaks and dissect what had just happened. As soon as the commercial was over and the show came on, we both knew to hang up.
Itunes recently had a $.69 sale of 1-hit wonders and one of the songs was “How Do You Talk to An Angel?” by Jamie Walters, AKA Ray Pruitt of 90210 fame and then later, the short-lived “The Heights.” Ray Pruitt and Donna Martin, thanks for the mammaries!
And one final shout-out to my fellow ONR alumns:
“From north to south, (from north to south), BBG has got the mouth!”
What are your memories associated with songs or smells? Share so that perhaps we can all reminisce a bit.