I heard Crazy for You on the radio today. And it brought me back. Back to the Methodist Dance where the Boy in the Miami Vice Jacket dumped me for the popular girl. My girlfriend and I locked ourselves in the bathroom ’til I stopped crying. Oh, the heartache.
Music will do that to me. I have a visceral reaction to sounds, and lyrics, and tones that doesn’t just remind me where I was but how I felt and who I was. Of sweaty nights with the window of the Caprice rolled down, my foot out the window, and Too Much Joy blasting on the radio. A feeling of youth, and freedom, and rebellion.
The smell of dirt and smoke and beer on nights when I was the DJs girl. When Ben would show up just to yell, “Hey Ed. Play Fat Joe.” And, we’d take up the whole dance floor working our “history of dance” long before Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake did it. And Ed, would put on Mr. Loverman and come out from behind the turntables to dance like we were the only people in the room.
Songs are characters in the story of my life. Neil Diamond brings me back to playing “rock star” in the basement with my brother and cousins. Ready for the World will always be long phone calls to South Plymouth and first dates at Friendly’s . Dee-Lite is Homecoming Dance in a vintage dress and Doc Marten boots. Depeche Mode will always be all-nighters and falling in love. Tribe Called Quest is digging through the crates in the basement of Greenwich Village record stores.
How do you build new memories for your music? How do you make the soundtrack of your life evolve to include the changes that come over time? What are the songs that will define our children: their days on the dock, their dancing in the kitchen, their bedtime songs?
Early on, we worked to share the music we love with the boys. We sang “Three Little Birds” to the babies when they cried. We play salsa, and new wave, and reggae, and hip hop when we make dinner at night. We make music videos that remind us of important moments and the songs that go with them.
Music is about rebellion and youth and independence. It’s why we hold on to the old songs. Why our parents listened to the oldies station on the radio; why we listen to backspin and firstwave. These songs remind us of who we once were and who we still strive to be. So what will our children hold on to? What will bring them joy when they’re feeling down and out? What will they blast out of their speakers? What will they share with their first love?
When Jalen told us last week that his new favorite song is Wrecking Ball, Ed’s immediate reaction was, “No it’s not.” Jalen’s response, “I don’t have to like the songs you like, Dad.” Touche and god help us all.