One of the reasons I started AudioPerfecta is because music makes me happy. Music makes me sad. Music makes me emotional. Really – music makes me feel. There’s scientific reasons for this – something about music triggering the release of endorphins. While I’m all for scientific explanations – as far as music goes, I really don’t care the reason. I just know that music makes me feel.
Going further – music makes me feel like a child. Music transports me to a time of my life that seems like something out of a fantasy. Looking back at my childhood, I can barely believe it happened. My life is so different now than it was in the early 80s. Of course, I’m different too. Even so – I enjoy how music makes me feel like a child. I enjoy going back in time when I didn’t have to be an adult. Come with me on a journey of my past, and explore some of these memories shaped by music.
It starts with donut music.
In my Spotify account, with all the AudioPerfecta playlists, you’ll also see a lot of unfinished playlists. One of those playlists is simply entitled “Donut Music.” The reasoning behind the name Donut Music connects itself to one of my earliest musical memories. Sunday mornings my dad set up the sound system at church, then come back in our family’s only car and pick up my mom and I, and sometimes he brought us donuts. I remember, sitting at the table eating these donuts, and listening to whatever music my parents decided to play. The sounds were haunting and soothing – and maybe triggered my love for music.
Donut music included songs like Chuck Girard’s “Rock and Roll Preacher.” I remember hearing Girard belt out the chorus in a high octave – I was awestruck. Another song, Keith Green’s “Lies.” The belting piano and – just like Giard – the high octaves Green reached with his vocals. Even now – I can’t put a finger on the feeling I have when listening to these songs.
I used to think every song played on those donut music mornings was a Christian song – but I was wrong! I realized my error a few months back when I heard Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Boxer” for probably the thousandth time. A memory hit me out of nowhere….this was one of the songs I listened to while eating Sunday morning donuts. This was donut music! I think my mom made sure the album disappeared because she really hated the promiscuity in “Cecilia.” Still – part of the memory always resided in my near cocnsious brain. I always remembered a duo singing “li li li…” I just didn’t put two and two together until several years afterwards. Sidenote…I wonder what my mom would say if she knew I named my laptop “Cecilia.”
But there’s more than Donut Music
Music was a big part of my childhood – especially my early childhood. The warm sounds of the late 70s and early 80s soothed my soul in ways I will never understand. Several months back, I featured some of these sounds in my Soft rock supercoma playlist. There’s a reason I used the term “supercoma,” as that’s kind of the feeling some of the soft rock songs of that era feel like. These songs transport me to a place, or maybe a time, when I was young and innocent. This music makes me feel like a child again – full of wonder and trying to make sense of the world around me.
A few of my favorite examples: What a Fool Believes by The Doobie Brothers. When Michael McDonald almost screams those high notes on the lyric, “No wise man has the power to reason away” I feel like a seven year old. Couple his voice with that bass line played by an electric piano and it doubles the effect! There’s Dionne Warwick’s version of “Say a Little Prayer.” As she sings the chorus….”Forever, and Ever, we never will part, oh how I love you.” Her voice sounds so high energy! There’s also the coda / horn solo. Again – I can’t describe how this music makes me feel…but it’s a good thing. It’s a very good thing. It’s almost like Christmas!
The feelings aren’t always good.
Today as I was walking to a coffee shop and listening to a playlist of brand new songs, I hear something familiar. In Michael Nau’s “No Quit,” I heard a hint of “Crystal Blue Persuasion” by Tommy James and the Shondells. Of course I had to listen to both songs back to back – and I found that there were more than hints in Nau’s song – “No Quit’s” guitars essentially plagiarize Crystal Blue Persuasion. I found something else though, as I listened to Tommy Jones – a dark feeling from somewhere hidden in the deepest parts of my mind.
Maybe it’s the slow tempo of Crystal Blue Persuasion. Maybe it’s the warm organ sounds. Whatever the reason – I feel dark – like I’m in a horror movie. Only it’s not the me of now – it’s 9 year old me. I’m going somewhere in the back of my parent’s old Ford Granada, and something bad and scary is about to happen. I have a similar feeling with Todd Rundgren’s “Hello It’s me.” I know I’m about to get slashed up in a true crime thriller. To this day, even though I find no evidence to support this theory, I’m convinced “Hello It’s Me” was part of “Looking for Mr. Goodbar” in the ending scene. Yeah – any copy of the movie you find has Gerry Rafferty’s “Baker Street” on it, but I know better!”
Music makes me feel ghastly dread.
In the 90s, I bought Fleming and John’s “Delusions of Grandeur, and made an interesting discovery. The title track had a part in the middle of the song – a solo horn, and then a female vocal singing up and down a musical scale. It reminded me of an old movie from the 30s, and an odd memory. For some reason, I slept in the living room a lot circa 1983. We had just gotten cable, and I woke up at probably 2 AM to my mom watching an old jazz film. The film had a yellowish tint from age and the medium of the film. There were trumpets and horns blaring with the tinny, deteriorated audio.
The sound of the horns scared me. Maybe it was my lethargic nature, maybe it was the poor quality of an old movie, or maybe it was something else. I felt like I was watching a bunch of ghosts on TV. The again – those people were probably dead, so maybe my mind knew this – and it scared me. I was an easily frightened child.
And yes – music makes me feel sad
I’ll be honest – I’ve cried a few times when typing this article out. Even the happiest songs, when they transport me back to childhood make me think of my own lost innocence. I think of a time when I didn’t worry about money, being unemployed, health issues, and so many other adult problems. I also miss my mom. So many of my early childhood memories were connected to her in some form or another – and so much of my musical influence were because of her love of music. When that part of my life comes back in memories, it naturally makes me think of her – and it makes me tear up a little (I’ve touched on this (and other parts of this article before).
That doesn’t mean the sadness is a bad thing. Sadness can be beautiful. There was a Pixar movie not all that long ago which said this very thing verbatim. Interestingly enough, Inside Out was the last movie I watched with my mom. I remember she kept falling asleep, and waking up, and falling asleep. I remember her passing gas really bad and getting embarrassed (of course, I thought it was funny). That was a special memory to me, even though she was a few weeks before dying. Despite the sadness – and maybe because of the sadness – I’ll cherish that memory forever.
Cherish your memories – musical or not.
This post was originally going to span the decades of my passion for music. I was going to talk about how a certain sad song pumped me up because I wasn’t paying attention to the lyrics. I was going to talk about the time when I started singing Warrant’s “Cherry Pie” in an inappropriate setting. There’s so many musical memories I have – bringing up so many feelings. There’s about a dozen I can think of just from childhood that I wasn’t able to get to in this article. Each one is something I cherish deeply. Each memory of music makes me wonder. In so many ways – music makes me feel.