I have discovered the secret to time travel.
I was in a store the other day when the radio played Build Me Up Buttercup by The Foundations. I wasn’t the only person who started singing along. I could hear some guy a couple of aisles over, faintly but clearly, “da-dum, da-dum, da-dum, da-dum, WHY do you build me up…”
Build Me Up Buttercup is not a musically important song; in fact it’s pretty lame. That doesn’t matter. When I hear that song I am 9 years old again, up in my bedroom listening to the top-40 on my sister’s transistor radio and singing along at the top of my lungs.
Music is a time machine.
Certain songs have the power to instantly transport us back to specific places in our past. Whether the music is any good is immaterial – our memories are what matter. Take the song Mairzy Doats. You’d have to go a long way to find a sillier song. But when I hear it, I find myself back in Jeanne Cain’s living room the summer we were 10. Her parents had that record and we replayed the tricky parts over and over again, determined to figure out what the heck they were saying. I still know all the words.
I think the most powerful songs are those we learn during puberty. Something about all the growth and hormonal upheaval going on causes the music of that time to become hardwired into our DNA. It is a time for discovery, and finding “your” music is a big part of the process.
When I hear What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye, I have to sing along. Passionately. My middle-aged, white, establishment self may be scrubbing pots at the kitchen sink, but in my heart I am a 12-year-old militant, looking for something to protest. Right on, brother!
When I am old and senile, drooling in my chair at Shady Acres and unable to remember my own name, I will still know all the words to Stairway to Heaven. When it plays, I will be in 7th grade again, playing spin the bottle in Keith O’Brien’s basement and experiencing my first kiss.
On my deathbed, moments away from meeting My Maker, if someone plays In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida by Iron Butterfly (the first album I owned,) I will be back in the gym at a high school dance. I will rise up…then stand around and shuffle my feet awkwardly. Although it was great to listen to, you could never really dance to that sort of music.
My favorite song, Roundabout by Yes, transports me to college. I do believe that song would bring me back, even if I had already passed over to The Other Side. Yea, verily, it would tear the veil of death! But that probably wouldn’t work if I was already embalmed. And it would be a limited time thing that would only last the length of the song. Then it’s right back to dead.
Music is a time machine and it doesn’t cost a thing to hop aboard. Your ticket is a pocketful of great memories.
What songs punch your ticket to ride?
*Special thanks to my good buddy, blogging goddess and PhotoShop pro Miss Darla from She’s A Maineiac. She used her mad skillz to take the disco-Peg picture she ran in her 6/13 Blogger of the Month post (why can’t EVERY month be Peg-o-Leg month? Just sayin’…) and drop it into this time machine picture.