All too often when driving into work I’ll hear a song on the radio and it will take me back to some point in the past. In an instant you are transported back in time to a different point in your life — sometimes good, sometimes bad. There will always be some songs that simply move us for reasons that no one else could possibly understand. In essense these songs become the soundtrack of our lives.
Not every one of these songs is a classic either. There may be some songs that our friends have never even heard of that mean a lot to us. Sometimes there are songs we have forgotten about that, upon hearing them again years later, give us this “instant recall” of people and places long gone.
Here are some examples from my own personal soundtrack:
“I’m In a Hurry and I Don’t Know Why” by Alabama: For me this song will always represent my second year at University. It means late night runs to Burger King with my friend Rob, racing to south Calgary from Rundle Hall in his car. Whenever I hear it I think of those two semesters and the fun we had with that group of friends, none of which I am in contact with anymore.
“Trust Yourself” by Blue Rodeo: New Year’s Day 1992. I had driven up from Vauxhall to the University to spend New Year’s Eve in residence. There weren’t many of us around, but we had a great time. We partied long into the night. At one point I remember almost getting into a fight with a member of Campus Security because he had excused me and my friends of stealing a Christmas tree from one of the other floors in the building. (We didn’t do it, either!) My friend Deb was really drunk and passed out in my room and I remember waking up to the sound of her puking on my carpet. I had agreed to drive her back home to Black Diamond on New Year’s Day and she was still really hungover, but I remember this song playing and me commenting how much I enjoyed it.
“Roam” by The B-52s: This will always mean the summer of 1990. I was working at the Wendy’s in Lethbridge that summer, getting ready to move to Calgary. I worked the early morning shift, and we would come in at 7am to prepare for the opening at 10am. For those first three hours we would be blasting the stereo throughout the restaurant, listening to 93 ZOO FM out of Spokane, WA. On the weekends it was always playing Rick Dee’s Weekly Top 40 and this song was very popular at the time, and it was always so upbeat it got us working faster. Sinead O’Conner’s “Nothing Compares to U” and Depeche Mode’s “Enjoy the Silence” take me back to that same time.
“Rocket to My Heart” by Paul Janz: It is just after my high school graduation in 1990. I am driving down “the jail road” taking my date Carol home to get ready for the big after-grad party. I’m working early the next morning so I won’t be going, but as we cruised down the highway in the dark AM106 out of Calgary played this song. It’s a great cuising song and I remember I had bought the cassette single — shows how long ago it was! It’s a bittersweet memory because, as mentioned above, I would move to Calgary later that year to attend school. Carol and I would remain friends, meeting on more than one occassion for coffee when she was also living in Calgary. Our last meeting was at the Heartland Cafe in Kensington. I remember her telling me how much she hated the city and how she longed to be back in the Coaldale/Lethbridge area. She talked of how she loved the open space of the prairies and how the city left her claustrophobic. She distinctly told me, “Dan, this place is going to kill me.” The sad irony is that two weeks later she died from heart issues. Those words haunted me for a long time.
As I said, the memories triggered by the soundtrack of our lives don’t always end up being positve. There are a lot more songs in my personal soundtrack, and perhaps I’ll share them in a future posting. Feel free to comment and tell me the story of your own personal soundtrack.