There’s something kind of nice — safe, even — about nostalgia. It’s not living in the past, but looking back fondly. For me, it can sometimes help me change the frame of mind that I’m in (which is usually something I need to do a lot of during this time of year. Raise your hand if you hate winter!).
It always amazes me how memories are not only visceral, but sensory, as well. A lot of people associate different smells with different memories. I’ve been known to do this from time to time. I’ll say something weird like, “Oh, it smells like 2nd grade in here!” (crayons and recycled paper) or “This place smells like my 5th grade teacher!” (heavy perfume masking alcohol).
Music, for me, is the best way to evoke different emotions and get at that nostalgia. That’s probably not really shocking, especially after all the attention I’ve given to music and music-related posts lately.
And nostalgia, for whatever reason, tends to come back most frequently to childhood. For me, that happens when I get stressed out and sort of tired of being an adult. I suspect it’s that way for a lot of people. We get tired of all of the hassles and responsibilities of growing up and we just miss the days when our biggest responsibility was getting our times tables finished for homework or remembering to take a jump rope for recess.
In truth, I have an actual post planned for this blog. I wanted to write it last week, but waited until I got some more resources. As I type this, it’s 12:59 a.m. on Friday, February 3rd. The last time I looked up, it was Sunday afternoon. I have no idea what happened to this week, but I was buried under a mountain of work and some other matters that needed my focus. So hopefully we’ll get to that one next week. Today, though, I want to share some music.
If you read this blog frequently or you know anything about me, one of my greatest joys is sharing music. It’s why I made people mix tapes as a teenager and why I became a DJ in college. It’s why I’m always trying to get someone to listen to something.
This is music that makes me feel safe because I’ve decided the nostalgia theme is going to be … Parents. What music reminds you of your parents when you were little? Some of it’s going to seem really weird. Keep in mind that 1.) I grew up in the 80s/90s and 2.) I have a really broad taste in music. It’s my “no worries” music. And of course, after I share mine, I’m going to want to know what your list is. So without further ado…
Anita Baker – “Sweet Love”
I will fight anyone who tries to tell me that my mom didn’t listen to this cassette a lot in the 80s — including my mom. Anyway, she got married right out of high school and had me (the first of three) when she was 20. When I was a little girl, my mom was the age that I am now. She wore pretty clothes and listened to current music. Anita Baker, for whatever reason, makes me think of my mom singing in the car. …And hugging me while wearing a peach-colored sweater that smelled like honeydew and winter clothes.
Lionel Richie – “Running With the Night”
For the first 3 years of my life, I lived in a very tiny house with my parents. I had a playroom in the basement (I believe there was a chalkboard and a bean bag chair and I’d teach my stuffed animals and dolls). But the basement was just… eh. After my sister was born, we moved to the house where we live now, and we have a partially finished basement. We don’t use it much anymore (my brother believes it to be his own personal man cave when he’s home) but when we were younger, that was our play room. My dad also had this sweet stereo set up down there, and my mom would listen to this tape (and sing along) while she was cleaning. I used to love to sit down there while she was doing that because the light was really warm (not what you think of with a basement), and everything was so … clean.
Steve Winwood – “Higher Love”
When I was in 2nd grade (or some time around there) my parents leased a new Honda Accord. They loved driving it because it was a stick. It had a moon roof, which was just about the coolest thing I’d ever seen on a car (aside from the fact that my uncle’s red Camaro Z28 had a T-top… MUCH cooler). Naturally, I loved when the moon roof was open when we were going anywhere, including Saturday morning piano lessons. I feel like I heard this song on the radio on the way to those piano lessons every single weekend for an entire summer. Maybe I made that up, but it’s what I think of.
Steely Dan – “Hey Nineteen”
Steely Dan Gold was on heavy rotation in my parents’ Chevy Astro (oh yes) for the majority of my childhood. They wore the tape out to the point of Donald Fagen just sounding demonic and creepy. I loved this song (I always heard it at the beach too — it always seemed to be coming out of someone’s radio). On a more personal level, people who know my email and/or old screen name might see a connection. It’s not a coincidence. Anyway… cruisin’ in the Astro. Yep.
America – “Sister Golden Hair”
When we weren’t listening to Steely Dan Gold in the car, we were listening to America’s History. Incidentally, when I got to Jr. High and started buying my own CDs, those two were among some of the first albums I bought for myself…. and then tried to hide from my friends so they wouldn’t make fun of me.
So those are my five. Until I wrote this, I’d not really considered how the cars and car rides factored into those memories.
What songs remind you of your parents when you were little?