Music has a way of transporting me – to a time and a place that I’ve been before. Music is like a time machine that always goes back, never forward. I’m transported to memories that seem as clear as yesterday but are far from it. Music gives me an opportunity to relive moments, whether I want to relive them or not.
When I hear Alice’s Restaurant, I’m back in the family station wagon, all five of us and our luggage crammed in, on our way to the farm in the Illinois for Thanksgiving with the family.
When I hear Crash, I’m back in my sophomore year of college at Ball State, in my dorm room with a girl I never related to, rarely spoke to and yet often were just a few steps from each other.
When I hear How Great Thou Art, I’m standing up front in my grandparent’s church with my cousin trying my hardest to sing at my grandpa’s funeral, only making it halfway and letting Seth carry the final stanza on his own.
When I hear I hear I’ll Make Love to You, I’m back in Amy’s little red pick up, singing at the top of our lungs with the windows down, and when I get to the chorus with my head out the window, I look over and there is a man with his window down too, watching three teenage girls scream, “I’ll make love to you!”
When I hear Bohemian Rhapsody, I’m in the Pizza Hut that used to sit on Keystone north of 71st Street with Katie and her family on a Friday night as we keep singing it louder and louder, drawing more and more attention to ourselves.
When I hear Forever, I’m on the dance floor, a place I’m perfectly comfortable, with my new husband, who is anything but comfortable dancing in front of a crowd, smiling and thinking, “How can I be this lucky?”
When I hear They Will Know We are Christians By Our Love, I’m in my dorm room with my mom’s old guitar and a chord chart trying to teach myself to play guitar – two chords over and over again until I’ve got it just right.
When I hear Over the Moon, I see Laura standing on her bed across the room from mine singing loudly while overacting every word of the song, as she does, entertaining me with her love of Rent.
When I hear Shelter, I see my ex-boyfriend sitting on the floor in front of me singing promises to me he was so eager to believe, and in the end they were promises that neither of us could keep.
When I hear Power of Two, I’m back in the movie theater with my friend Kristen asking, “Who is this?!” and for the first time hearing of the Indigo Girls; I’m back in her bedroom making a copy of her tape listening to music that will forever change my life.
When I hear Sound of Sunshine, I’m back with another ex-boyfriend and his son, this little boy who found his way into my heart singing every word confidently and loudly in the backseat, this little boy who I’ll probably never see again but is part of me forever.
When I hear Wagon Wheel, I’m on a dance floor, any dance floor whether it’s wood or carpet or grass, dancing carelessly, singing freely and letting the moment just be.
When I hear 10,000 Miles, I see Laura fall down on her knees as the song dictates, because that’s just what Laura does.
When I hear any song from Hamilton, I know where I’d be standing in the yard while mowing during any song because that is my soundtrack for yard work.
Seriously, I could keep going and going – on and on and on with all the songs that create the soundtrack of my life. Sometimes I imagine my life is a musical – I use songs already written at times, but as Brad can vouch for, I often just create a song in the moment as needed. I love music. I’m amazed by songwriters and tune writers and musicians. People are just so creative! I’ve written a few songs too, but I never think they are as good or creative as they probably are.
I don’t know how it works – how one song can take me back to a very specific time and place, to a moment that feels so real. But it does – music reaches to my past like nothing else can. I don’t have the greatest memory of my childhood or college or even my twenties. I’m not sure why, but there are so many things I forget. And yet, if the right song comes on the radio – it’s a mystery – somehow, the memories return and the moment is real again, happening all over right there in front of me.
I have no doubt that when I’m in my 90s and my memory is really gone, some kind person will find a Pandora station (or whatever they come up with by then) from the 1990s and 2000s to help me remember something, anything. The right song will come on and I will get up out of that wheelchair, throw my lap quilt to the side and slowly my hips will start swaying from side to side, the words will start flowing from my lips and there I will be, once again, on the dance floor with my friends having the time of my life.