Embracing One's Inner Old Lady
In Search of a Quiet Afternoon

Music on My Mind

category_bug_journal2.gif In an entry he posted over last weekend, Fred First of Fragments From Floyd laments the fading of memories once evoked by popular music from his youth.

“…until lately,” he writes, “the songs have been able to reconnect me with the spirit of that age; with specific people, events, eras in my life - even the moods evoked by certain perfumes or the smells of places where specific things happened…But I am less and less able to squint my eyes and see the where of it, the who, even the when. It is becoming music that still finds - will always find - a welcome place in my heart, but my mind less and less can tell me why.”

Aging is a much longer and more diverse process than adolescence; we each do it differently and, of course, we cannot predict how it will happen. It’s another of those little jokes Mother Nature saves up to spring on us unexpectedly.

Unlike Fred, my experience with music from bygone days, so far, remains strong and clear. When I hear even a scrap of Peggy Sue, I’m back in high school, most particularly at a party when that Buddy Holly tune had just been released, and it’s all we played for the entire evening.

I know exactly why a painful sadness came over me when I heard the Theme from Zorba the Greek recently for the first time in several years. And when I rediscovered Manhattan Tower a couple of years ago, I all but became the little girl I was when I first listened to it a half century ago.

Hearing Hi Lili, Hi-Lo sung by Leslie Caron can send me into a whole string of memories of my father. It was his favorite song.

Sometimes, one’s taste changes so radically that some music from times past is no longer tolerable. Two old favorites, Janis Joplin and The Doors, are now extremely irritating to me (with the exception of Janis’s Pearl album) and though I can recall the mood and some events from the years when they were in regular rotation on my phonograph, they don’t resonate for me anymore.

Fred consoles himself for his loss with this heartening thought:

“Time passes. And it sweeps with it some our most precious memories. There is nothing to it but to make new ones.”

One of Fred’s readers, Trish, left this smart comment for him:

“Hark Carolyn Heilbrun on the pleasure that old age affords of living in the now. Many of our greatest sages report that the more we can do this, neither projecting fancifully into the future, not pining uselessly into the past for pleasant or bitter memories, the more likely we are to experience the flow state, the spiritual bliss, the existential serenity and the just plain freedom from depression that many of us wish we could have, if only for a few minutes of relief.”

What about you? What is your experience with music and memories?


When I hear "Manhattan Towers", I am transported back to 1955--my first semester in college--listening to the (only) local radio station as I studied. Because I had told my mother of the way the piece spoke to me, she had Grandmother give the LP (that's "long play"--as in vinyl recording--for the younger readers) to me for my 18th birthday. It's time that I went downstairs to play it...it's been too long.

The music of the Beatles and the Beach Boys always takes me back to the carefree days of high school. My girlfriends and I sang along with all the songs and I know whenever we hear one now, no matter that we may be far away from each other, we are together in our memories and thinking about each other.

Goodness, where to start? Music marks many milestones for us all. Goodnight, Irene, brings me memories of my grandfather playing his guitar and singing. San Antonio Rose is my grandmother playing the piano. Of course, all the late 60's and early 70's rock music always sends me to my teens. Beach Boys music is summer forever. Simon and Garfunkel - a coming of age. Creedence Clearwater brings memories of Vietnam.

I'm searching for "Manhattan Towers" vinyl recording for my father. Do you have any suggestsions as to where to find it?

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