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What is it about nice people that attract total idiots?Nice people are martyrs. Idiots are evangelists.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The soundtrack of your life, Chris Martin!

Fellow blogger Robin was the first I ran into doing this idea- what songs make up the soundtrack to your life?  She has really made it a musical autobiography, and others I know have also done some form of the same thing.  I wondered what would go into mine today, and here is what I mused on.

It is hard to pick out specific songs-specific incidents for me as Robin is doing.  Some of the songs that really get to me (witness Jacob And Two Women on last week's Time Machine) have no connection to anything at all.  So the "pick songs that really get to you" thing doesn't apply here.  Sometimes a memory bubble just forms around a way I felt at one time I heard a song.  For example, Boston's Peace Of Mind always takes me back to a summer afternoon after I got the grass cut, listening to the radio and watching a thunderstorm roll in.  Another was an evening I was watching the sun go down, listening to an AM station from out of town barely coming in, playing John Stewart's Lost Her In The Sun as I slowly lost the station.

A rare quartet of songs have the ability to take me back as if I was hearing them for the first time, as if it was brand new.  Those four songs are two by the Four Seasons- Working My Way Back To You and Let's Hang On!- and two by the Beatles- Paperback Writer and Nowhere Man.  None of these have a specific memory tied to it (except after the fact.  One time at my old job, the floor supervisor and I were talking to our department head -a 26-year old, about ten years ago- and he mentioned the plant manager didn't have a point of view.  The floor boss and I immediately broke into, "Knows not where he's going to, isn't he a bit like you and me...".  Our boss said, "What the hell are you guys doing?" having no idea about the Beatles other than a vague idea that they sang and played with simple stone instruments.)

In my school days, every now and then a song would wrap itself around a certain girl.  For example, a crush I had as a freshman got tied into The Things We do For Love for no better reason than I developed the crush in like February or March, when we had no choice but to go "walking in the rain and the snow, when there's nowhere to go..."  Another got looped into Saved By Zero because the song was playing during a dream I had with her in it.  One of the first was a girl who became lodged in Top Of The World, because in my imagination she looked like I thought Karen Carpenter (whom I'd not seen yet) looked.  Would have been better advised to hook her to Sister Golden Hair, which I'm surprised I didn't.  Another girl would be surprised to know that she had Ian Matthews' Shake It attached to her- for no better reason than her and a friend were always speaking Spanish 101 Espanol together, and the line "She has a purse that was made in Mexico..."

Some songs get stuck in places.  Moonlight Feels Right drifts along a Georgia road on a trip with my brother's family; Pilot's Magic is with them again at Fawn Forest campground.  Maybe the most vivid was at Snow Lake, drifting through the channel into Lake James as Wishing You Were Here played on the eight track.

Some songs get the benefit of hearing through a child's not-quite understanding ears... that lends a special touch an adult can't explain to songs like Angel Of The Morning and Love Child.

One really solid block comes from the nights of my youth listening to the great Ron Gregory on WOWO.  A handful of songs always take me there:  Who Loves You; Evil Woman; S.O.S.; My Little Town; Bad Blood; Art Garfunkel's Breakaway.  Feelings... nothing more than feelings...

But in the end, there are a small select group of certain songs to go with certain events.  One of the most powerful is A Long December.  If you don't know this story, read it here. 

Another was when my baby niece died.  In between the funeral home and the church, the radio played the Guess Who's Share The Land.

Maybe I'll be there to shake your hand (Shake your hand)
Maybe I'll be there to share the land (Share the land)
That they'll be givin' away
When we all live together, together together

(Shake your hand, share the land)
You know I'll be standing by to help you if you worry
(Shake your hand, share the land)
Now more sadness, no more sorrow, and no more bad times
(Shake your hand, share the land)
Everyday comin' sunshine, everyday everybody laughin'
(Shake your hand, share the land)
Walkin' together by the river, walkin' together and laughin'
(Shake your hand, share the land)
Everybody singin' together, everybody singin' and laughin'
(Shake your hand, share the land)
Good times, good times, everybody walkin' by the river now
(Shake your hand, share the land)
Walkin', singin', talkin', smilin', laughin' diggin' each other
(Shake your hand, share the land)
Everybody happy together, I'll be there to worry you if you need-a me
(Shake your hand, share the land)
Call on me, call on me, call my name, I'll be runnin' to help you
(Shake your hand, share the land)
Everybody walkin' by the river now, everyday everybody laughin'
(Shake your hand, share the land)
Everybody singin' and talkin', smilin', laughin', diggin' each other

That is why somebody had better play this at my wake as I have instructed, or my ghost will RAIN HELL ON YOU ALL!!!!!!!!!!!

When my father passed, the Highwaymen had just released their second single- Desperadoes Waiting For A Train.  It was an idealised look at Dad for me- certainly nothing like our real life relationship- and one I desperately needed.

One day I looked up, and he's pushing 80
And there's brown tobacco stains all down his chin
To me he's one of the heroes of this country
So why is he all dressed up like them old men?
Drinkin' beer and playing Moon in 42

Like desperados waiting for a train
Like desperados waiting for a train

The day before he died, I went to see him
I was grown, and he was almost gone
So we just closed our eyes and dreamed of supper kitchens
And sang another verse to that old song
[Jennings spoken]
Come on Jack, that son-of-a-gun's a-comin'.

Like desperados waiting for a train
Like desperados waiting for a train
Like desperados waiting for a train
Like desperados waiting for a train

And lastly, the one that had the most profound impact on me personally.  It was nearing the end (though we didn't know it at the time) of my marriage.  I had tried to feel like an adult, like I knew what I was doing.  It was easy to make myself believe it, especially with my wife being so willfully clueless about life.  But my base, my self concept, had been slowly eroding beneath me while I pretended not to notice.  Then one night as we lay in bed, I heard Radiohead's Creep for the first time:

When you were here before
Couldn't look you in the eye
You're just like an angel
Your skin makes me cry
You float like a feather
In a beautiful world
I wish I was special
You're so fucking special

But I'm a creep
I'm a weirdo
What the hell am I doing here?
I don't belong here....

And I said to myself, "THAT is how I feel right now."  And with that self admission, my whole personality structure collapsed in one big smouldering heap.  It took me months to get my head anywhere close to straight, including a vacation week away from wife and kids.  Several dozen things had to come to a head, from my concept of how God sees things to what I really wanted out of life.  What I would settle for and what I wouldn't.  And one of those lines my wife crossed about three times too many- including the very day I tried to explain it to her- and from there it was just a matter of time.

So, Chris, nothing happy on the soundtrack?  Are you kidding?  ALL my music makes me happy.  But it doesn't have to tie to anything earth shattering.  Just moments in time.  Pauses between breaths.  Rolls between waves.  Or in instrumentals like A Summer Place, Kai Winding's More, or Love Is Blue, the soaring flight from one cloud to the next.  And that is my soundtrack.


  1. Hi, Chris! You are anchored to quite a few songs. I'd like to share a few of my anchor songs with you. "Let's Hang On" by the Four Seasons was hot on the radio between Halloween and Christmas 1965 when I was turning age 16. I have vivid memories of hearing that record played in heavy rotation on my local top 40 station, WSBA, while my dad and I worked together for several weeks installing wood paneling on the walls of our subterranean game room. "Black Water" by the Doobies is permalinked to memories of Mrs Shady #1 and I painting our first apartment.

    Songs can burn into your brain quite easily when you are in the midst of sad or traumatic events such as a death in the family or the break-up of a love relationship. You also tend to get anchored to songs that play during the happiest moments of your life like your wedding day or the birth of your child. As you remind us in the last paragraph, sometimes a song becomes attached to a very ordinary event in your life. One of my fondest memories is floating on a raft in my backyard swimming pool in the summer of '65 and hearing "Unchained Melody" a gazillion times on WSBA.

    Thanks for triggering happy memories for me, Chris!

    1. I could have thrown in our honeymoon trip- The Doobies with The Doctor and Michael Damien's cover of Rock On. I don't remember any songs really connecting to our wedding or reception. And most songs that attached to something tightly did it from birth to freshman year. After that, it really had to mean something to pick up a memory. One of these days we'll disagree on some song, but for now I'm glad to run into someone that really "digs" the stuff I do. No fees for the memories!

  2. "One Summer Dream" by ELO always takes me back to the summer of 1976. Just before I went into the Navy. In fact, I'm playing it right now. I kind of miss those days.
    And having brown hair.

    1. First off, anyone that has an ELO comment automatically gets 4-star upgrade! OSD is definitely a song that will make one wistful. I could have added most of Out Of The Blue in this.

  3. You know there are no rules to this Soundtrack thing. You can write your posts Just.Like.That.

    Give us a snippet of a story and then the song. It can be chronological or not.

    No rules.

    If you decide you want to incorporate some of this post into separate posts with the songs and actually "do this thing," I'll link to you at the bottom of my posts.

    For someone who loves music like you do, this should be an ace in the hole.

    1. It is an interesting idea... I don't know that there are that many good stories left after this! Probably I would rather just piecemeal them into Time Machine posts that need that extra kick. But, as you can see with this post, I'm grateful that you gave me something to think about.

  4. Chris, I love this post so much!! You know how much I love music and I feel a strong connection to the lyrics and songs. I have so many that immediately transport me to the time and place of a memory. The Highwaymen are truly one of my most favorite collaborations because I love every one of the singers!! Waylon and Cash are amazing and Willie is flipping legend. That's a great song that you posted. Share the Land is very appropriate for the occasion you want it played for. The lyrics say a lot!
    I love your time machine posts because you always post about the songs and singers of those times. awesome!!!

    1. Glad to do it! I just live my life, livin' in a rock'n'roll fantasy...

  5. Makes me think about the music of my life

    1. You should try posting some! Probably be a few I don't know...

  6. The Wheels on the Bus
    Simon & Garfunkel
    John Denver
    Don McClean
    Men at Work
    ELO (Star for me)
    Tom Petty
    Angry White Women Phase
    A Bunch of Music Associated with Men I don't Like Anymore
    Recommendations from my Teenager

    1. Stars also (though slightly smaller) for most of your list. The top one and bottom three are N/A for me.

      Scarborough Fair
      Farewell Andromeda (Welcome To My Morning)
      It's A Mistake
      Killer Queen
      Strange Magic
      South Central Rain
      American Girl
      Bloody Well Right

  7. Chris:
    I've always given this topic some SERIOUS thought( having more years BEHIND me than in FRONT), and although I never made a "formal" list, I do have more than a few tunes that kinda "set the mood", if such a thing can be said.

    I do like YOUR choices, and that Guess Who songs is on my list someplace. I just like the simple, yet effective message in it.

    Yell 'ya what. if you don't outlive ME, I'll be there HUMMING that tune you want...(no ghostly it?)

    Now, you've got me wanting to get my "soundtrack" down on paper...just in case.
    (note: It might include some movie music and instrumentals)

    Very good post (and comments).

    Stay safe up there, brother.

    1. Can't wait to see that list! I'm All Right from Caddyshack must be on it!

  8. This was a great post Chris. Wow.. Good songs and thanks for sharing your memories. I remember when I left home for Boise, Idaho at 17 and just went wild, the song by Nick Gilder..Hot Child In The City came out. I swore it was written for me. I made myself known out there by just waltzing into town and going wild. I'd have to really think about the rest. Cool concept this is!!

    1. I remember you telling me that a while back. I would have liked to have seen you back then- I don't believe I would be keeping up with, though!