The following and all of the other episodes to come are snapshots of what goes on in my head, now and in the past. There are times none of this will make sense. There will be times when I might get lucky and the blog I post will be well constructed and will flow like a mountain stream to an awaiting lake below. Other times it will seem like the ramblings of a madman and you’ll ask yourself, “What the……?”
You should probably get used to the latter.
EPISODE TWO HUNDRED SIX: MY SOUNDTRACK
Every moment of my life has a soundtrack, so I never know when some song is going to jump me by surprise and bring the memory alive.
When I was a kid, I used to love listening to music on my dad’s record player. It was mounted on the wall and it had doors that swung outward that had speakers built in. The arm with the diamond tipped needle would go down on the record all by itself at the exact right place. It amazed me. To this day, decades later, I can still feel the wood feel of the cabinet and the roughness of the speaker covers.
I’d listen to my records (early on, it was mostly soundtracks) with my dad’s converted pilot headphones and get transported to wherever the music took me.
Then, one glorious Christmas, I received my own record player with a set of detached speakers. I was thrilled. I could listen to my music in my own room. My room became my imagination transporter, the music of John Williams would send me inside the Millennium Falcon to fly with its heroes or it would send me into the jungles to run along with Indiana Jones.
(Author’s note: There was also Olivia Newton John’s album Greatest Hits Vol.2 that took me in another direction all together… But’s that’s for another time…)
Then came Huey Lewis and The News.
I listened to their music over and over. I played a cassette of their album Sports in my Walkman so much, the music disappeared from the tape. That is no lie. I went through two cassettes before I got my first CD player. Huey Lewis was my main man and there wasn’t a song I didn’t know (and I still know most of the words to all the songs even now). Along the way came Dire Straits, The Miami Vice soundtrack, The Police (Sting), Genesis (Phil Collins), Bryan Adams, and my favorite band of all time, Pink Floyd.
And, of course, there were others. Bruce Springsteen, James Taylor, Joan Jett, The Beatles, and many more.
I would listen to music while I was in my room, in the den, in the backyard while I shot hoops, riding the lawn mower while I cut the grass (I could barely hear it), sitting in a tree, and riding my bike around the block. Then, later on, I listened to my music when I finally began to drive. Yeah, I cranked it. Unless, of course, it was my soundtrack music. That wasn’t considered cool. But I would forget the teenage law of being cool and thought, as Huey Lewis put it, Hip To Be Square.
But with the windows up in whatever I was driving, I could listen to anything I wanted. I could even go back to those younger days and pretend my Camaro was the Falcon and Chewy was sitting next to me or pretend I was flying a plane with Indy telling me about his past adventures in my passenger seat. Maybe Willie Scott and Short Round was in the back seat listening with interest (I would give an occasional wink and knowing look to Willie and she’d slip one back to me).
Ahh, yes. Those were the days.
And since then, I’ve added more music to my loop. Nineties music, and some early 2000’s bands and singers. And big one that love is an ambient group out of Nashville, Tennessee. They’re called Hammock. Talk about soundtrack music. Their music has become infused with my life. I listen to their music more than any other when I write.
You never know when something new will come along and become important to you. Music can be one of those things.
I love to sit back and listen to music I listened to then and remember what I was doing when I heard it for the first time. It’s amazing how those images come swimming back to you. Maybe it’s a time when you responsibilities were small (chores, keeping your bedroom clean) and you had your whole life in front of you. When those notes and lyrics enter your brain, it takes you back and you can, for a moment or two, feel the way you did then.
Music is a time-travel device. And I use it everyday.
As I sit and sit and type this, I’m listening to Huey Lewis and The News’ Heart of Rock & Roll. I remember not only listening to this song in my car or in my headphones, but listening to it in my room as I imagined myself performing it in front of thousands of people in my room. I’d study Huey’s moves and his harmonica playing style and mimic it all for an invisible microphone. Occasionally, my father would enter without knocking to ask if I was going to cut the grass or take out the garbage or just to tell me to turn down the rock & roll. I’d quickly get off the stage and stare at some invisible point on the wall or toy and quickly nod my head and say ‘yes, on my way’. Not sure if he knew a stadium or arena was there with me as they waited for him to leave so I could finish the song. But, yeah, I’m sure he did.
He knew about my vivid imagination.
So, yeah, like millions of other people, I listen to my soundtrack, the music that marks moments in my life.
New music, old music, whatever that moves me.
Whatever music that helps me remember…
And, I say, they day we stop pretending to dance and sing the music we love in front of millions of invisible fans, we begin to die a little.
Go listen to YOUR music and sing and dance.
Go live to your soundtrack.
-Loyd Elmore Jr
October 8th, 2021
I’ve decided to keep a blog about how I’m dealing with depression. I’m going to consider this a form of therapy. It might not help anybody else but it might help me.