In the movie, Before Sunset, Ethan Hawke is on a book tour where he is talking about his next project: this idea of a song transporting you back in time. How it grabs you and can make you remember things you’d forgotten – all of it locked within a song.
I feel the same way, where the music moment can transport you back to those memories you might not always have right at your fingertips. Things you thought had been lost are now crystal clear once again.
Def Leppard – Hysteria
One of the first albums I ever owned, I nearly wore out the cassette tape as it would play behind me while I shot baskets throughout so many afternoons. But more than anything it transports me back to a particular summer where I’m maybe 12 or 13 at my grandparents’ house in south Georgia. My sister and I would normally spend two weeks with them every summer and hand out with our cousin. The thing was that south Georgia heat is nothing to play with. We’re talking 100 degrees easily during most afternoons, and in the area I’m talking about, it was probably closer to scrubland than woods sometimes (so not as much shade to potentially keep you cool). We tried to stick to the indoors as much as possible, but even back then the adults were always wondering why we weren’t outside playing (I wondered if adults didn’t feel heat in the same way, but now, as an adult, I know it’s certainly not the case). So I took a basketball out to the weathered and battered goal and turned on Def Leppard and cooked in the heat.
Guns N’ Roses – November Rain
When you are a poor high school student, you really depend on tape trading with your friends in order to experience anything more than what your own feeble funds might allow you to purchase. One of those tapes was a copy of Use Your Illusion 1 (and 2 as well) which Chad Shonk had made a copy of for me. I devoured that tape over the course of many weeks before I finally decided to just go and get the CD. Imagine my surprise when this song Novemeber Rain came pouring through my stero… a song I did not recognize at all. I popped back on the tape, fast forwarded to where the song appeared and got a weird gabled version of the song that was abruptly shortened as well. So it was that one of the bands greatest songs finally managed to be appreciated by me… months after the album had been out.
Korn – Blind
Right after I graduated from high school, my parents moved the family up to Richmond, Virginia, leaving their oldest in behind in Georgia to begin college at GA Tech in the fall. It was a great summer as for many weeks I pretty much was by myself. My dad would be down about every other week, but otherwise I was on my own (luckily for them, I was anything but a wild kid – I wouldn’t have known how to throw a party even if I’d wanted to). Just before the end of summer, the movers came and packed up all our worldly items and off we went to Richmond, where I think I technically lived for about two weeks.
It was there I discovered a record shop a couple of miles away from the new house. Every couple of days I would pop up there to see if they had anything of interest. And one day they had these sampler tapes from a band named KORN. Free means go ahead and grab one just in case. I got home, popped it into the stero, and was blown away by what I heard. Suddenly, a random trip to the store had introduced me (and my friends shortly thereafter) to not only a brand new band but the beginnings of a whole new music (Nu Metal).
John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.
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