Friday, November 16, 2007


I was in the check-out line of my neighborhood grocery/bodega last evening, when "Build Me Up, Buttercup" started up over the store's Muzak (or whatever) system. This store, smack in the heart of Spanish Harlem, plays a mix of Latin and Old Top 40 stuff, even though nothing but Spanish (language) is swirling around me.

Now, "Build Me Up, Buttercup" came out in winter of my senior year in high school. Music does tend to tug at things long-buried. So, I have all the "then" memories whenever I hear the song: school talent shows, the big senior therm paper, Senior Prom, club retreats, Awards Day, planning for college, etc. But last night I heard the song in the "now." "Now" means a shopping in a largely Spanish-speaking area of New York City, living in a small, but cozy apartment, working in Midtown Manhattan, the subway, and Central Park. A million light years away from Chattanooga, Tennessee, City High School, and Clairol Hot Rollers.

This happens to me all the time. I'll hear an old song, remembering where and what I was when it became embedded in my heart and soul, then look around at the very different place and time of my life today. I just smile and shake my head. Never in my wildest dream would I have imagined it.

Does this happen to you? You hear a song that brings back memories, then look around at where your standing today? A very interesting juxtaposition, me thinks.


petercmoore said...

Happens to me sometimes.

Strangely, though, the songs which really have this effect on my all seem to come from early summer 1982. I was fifteen, the summer was coming, we were taking our 'O'levels. We would be leaving school within weeks.

I was lucky - I really didn't need to study for my exams, and most classes were cancelled for personal revision time - so I, along with Sean, Phil, Richard and Adrian spent all our school time (it seemed like months at the time - it was probably 2 or 3 weeks) lazing around on the school field, checking out the girls' hockey or netball teams and listening to the Top 40 which Sean would tape from the Radio every Sunday night.

Now when I hear "Centrefold" by J. Geils Band, "Abracadabra" by Steve Miller (it was a good year for US guitar bands!), "I Want Candy" by Bow Wow Wow or "The Look of Love" by ABC I'm taken back 25 years.

I think the fact that this was, really, the last time that we would be totally carefree and (for the most part) innocent is the trigger for making those musical memories so strong.

Em said...

I can't say that music causes that reaction. But there are other things that bring the past/present into startling contrast. And, like you, where I am now seems light years away from where I began and from where I thought I would be.

Joy Des Jardins said...

Me thinks you are right Mary. Yes, it happens to me often, and I kind of like the little trip back in time.

Liz Hinds said...

It is a million light years, isn't it, between then and now? But you're happy right?

Come and see George, my puppy!!!