They say that the sense of smell is the strongest link to our memories. Recently, I went to an elementary school to vote. I’m not sure if it’s the scent of crayons that makes it distinct, but whatever it is, I was transported back. I felt an overwhelming urge to get in line, jump REALLY high to see if I could touch the ceiling, and sit cross-legged for story time. There’s another link to memories that may be just as strong as the sense of smell, and that’s music. Although I could quote Kenny Chesney right now, since the appropriate verse has nothing to do with sexy tractors, I’ll simply move on.
Tiffany – I Think We’re Alone Now
This song was popular when I was in kindergarten. It must’ve been one of those tunes that came on the radio again and again, a song you struggle to get away from, and yet there’s one memory that comes to mind when I hear it. Generically, I remember riding the bus to and from school. I stopped riding the bus to school in second grade after a new school was built within walking distance of my parent’s house, so perhaps it was the uniqueness of the bus ride that makes me make that connection. Maybe it has to do with the adventure that was the bus ride: the bus driver pulling over approximately once a day to tell us to calm down, not having to wear a seat belt because, well, there weren’t any, seeing the big lake that we passed that I now recognize was probably just a small pond, in retrospect. It all comes flooding back when I hear Tiffany today.
Skee Lo – I Wish
Many of my happiest childhood memories are of coming to Pittsburgh to spend time with my extended family. We would usually stay with my grandparents and other family members would come over to visit. One summer, when this song was popular, my sister and I were watching tv with some of our cousins. This jam came on, and, surrounded by a clock that gongs on the half hour, Precious Moments figurines, and an ornate coffee table, we had a very serious debate about whether or not this rap song was cool. Trust me: I absolutely get the irony now! Recently, this song was used in the background of a car commercial, and I had a good chuckle thinking about our gangster selves. 🙂
The Beatles – Yesterday
I went to Paris for a weekend trip when I was in England, and I took the metro to get around. Being a huge tourist area, you see a lot of musicians who “train jump.” I’m not sure if there’s an actual term for this, but basically, guys with guitars hop on a lucky metro train, assault you with their version of music, and eagerly wait for the passengers to throw money at them. Naturally, some are better than others, and somehow, the worst performer I saw, who was singing Yesterday, is the only one I can remember. The singer knew the words perfectly, although he didn’t seem to know their meaning because he sang in a monotone voice. I struggle to believe that this detail was on purpose, and yet I was touched, maybe because I was on a train by myself in Paris.
En Vogue – Don’t Let Go
This isn’t an original memory; it’s my husband’s that I now have in my memory bank. When this song came on Sirius’ 90’s on 9, he shared that this was one of his and his sister’s dish washing songs. They were tasked with cleaning up in the kitchen growing up, and, despite dreading it, the two of them made it fun. They would turn up the music nice and loudly, split up who was washing and who was drying, and sing at the top of their lungs. I can almost see my sister-in-law rocking out to a wooden spoon, while my husband did some serious head-banging over the sink.