It never ceases to amaze me just how closely related music is to writing. A memorable song tells a story just as much as any book does, and in a fraction of the time. A memorable song can melt years away, decades even, placing the listener in a weird sort of time warp that might last no more than three or four or five minutes.
They say the sense of smell is more memorable than any of the others, and that may be true - anyone who has ever gotten a whiff of that distinctive new-car smell will instantly recognize it even if they go years between actually sitting in new cars.
But for my money, music is equally transformative, at least if you are a music-lover. I heard a song on my way to work tonight that I had literally not listened to or even thought about in probably close to thirty-five years (Yes, I know, I'm getting freaking old, but that's not what this post is about, is it, wise-ass?), and the minute it came out of the speakers in my truck I was transported to my late teens.
The song? "It's All I Can Do," from The Cars second album, Candy-O, and if you're under forty you probably don't much remember The Cars, and if you're under twenty-five or thirty, you might not have ever heard of them. But for me, The Cars are one of those bands/artists that are memorable more because of what they represented than for the music they played.
They were huge when I was in my late teens and early twenties, partly because they originated in Boston, near where I grew up, but mostly because for a period of five to seven years you couldn't tune a radio to a rock station and go more than a few minutes without hearing a Cars song. I loved everything about The Cars, from their distinctive song beats to Ric Ocasek's distinctive voice to the fact that my dad just couldn't understand how the hell that crap was supposed to be considered music.
When I was a kid worked a lot outside, earning money by mowing lawns in my early teens and working as a groundskeeper at an estate when I got a little older. I had a small black hard-plastic transistor radio that I liked to listen to when I was working and the minute "It's All I Can Do" started playing in my truck I thought of that little radio and the smell of fresh-cut grass and the feel of the cool, damp earth on my fingers as I weeded flowerbeds. It was awesome.
Yeah, I know. Weird. I can admit that. But that didn't make it any less real, or any less enjoyable. For three minutes and forty-four seconds it was kind of cool being nineteen again.