I often wonder if I wasn’t born fifty years too late. I think I missed my era – those Big Band days when Sinatra ruled, and men wore hats, and everyone knew how to fox trot. It was the age of the MGM musical and those American standards I love so well – the music which comprises a large percentage of my iPod library.
Nevertheless, I seem to be stuck in a 1970’s music groove lately. It started with that Jackson Browne phase a few months back, which was followed by a several-week span of devotion to Pandora’s Fleetwood Mac station. Now I’m in the midst of a Paul Simon infatuation.
Much of his music is evocative of my younger days: Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Boxer” and “Sounds of Silence” remind me of my sophomore year of high school, when seniors Elayne and Zach (my paragons of alternative hipness, at that time) would lounge around the band hall listening to these songs, and I discovered that it could be cool to listen to your parents’ music.
I can’t hear “Kodachrome” without thinking about the road trip that Carms and I took to North Carolina during the fall of my senior year. Driving home from Chapel Hill, heading over hills towards the John H. Kerr Dam, we blasted our mix tape with this song and gave special emphasis to the lyrics “When I think back on all the crap I learned in high school…”
“Late in the Evening” and “You Can Call Me Al” always remind me of college - Virginia football in Scott Stadium, the faint smell of bourbon, and the pep band blasting these songs in between plays.
This past week, in addition to those nostalgic tracks, I had “American Tune” burned on my brain. Seriously stuck in my head. I couldn’t shake it, so I decided to just give in to it – I listened to it constantly in the hopes that my brain would get tired of it and allow me move on to other songs. No such luck.
I tried another tactic – maybe if I learned to play it myself, my brain would let it go and move on? The guitar was out – C & F are still outside my chord repertoire and "American Tune" calls for both– so I got the piano sheet music. I plunked through the song a dozen times or more. I sang it while washing dishes. I hummed it while walking to the grocery store. My poor roommate and neighbors probably wished I could pick a new song as much as I wished it for myself.
Finally, I’m happy to report, the obsession has abated. Think I got it out of my system. I’m humming “Graceland” now and dreaming of taking another road trip down south. “For reasons I cannot explain - There's some part of me wants to see Graceland…”
Who’s with me?