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There is a radio in my bathroom that remains plugged in.  This way, when I hit the light switch, voila, I have music as well.  I’ve always kept it this way, no matter where I’ve lived.  I just love to hear music as often as I can, even if it is in the can.

Sometimes a song will take me straight back in time and remind me of everything about a moment in my past, and this is the best kind of sometimes.  Songs are like smells that way.  They can trigger your memory to recall all the details of an instance.

All music is what awakes from you when you are reminded by the instruments. — Walt Whitman

I thought it would be fun to make a list of all the songs I can think of that have this effect on me, share the list with you, and ask you to post a comment with your own songs and the memories they induce.

Here are mine:

Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head” – sung by B.J. Thomas

In my memory this song is forever linked to the nursery rhyme

It’s raining, it’s pouring,

The old man is snoring,

He went to bed and he bumped his head,

And couldn’t get up in the morning.

When I was three years old we lived in an apartment on the third floor of one of the big, old Victorians around here, and from our window I could see the steeple of the Gothic Presbyterian church in East Liberty.  I was three, so I can’t explain anything about the memory other than if I hear the song “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head,” it most definitely always triggers the memory of the nursery rhyme and the view of the steeple from our window.

Suicide Is Painless” – theme song from M*A*S*H*.

I’m sure that many people my age can remember their parents tuning in to M*A*S*H* every week on TV.  It was one of my mother’s favorite programs, and I understood that it was funny, but most of the time the only thing that I could really laugh at was Jamie Farr in drag.  So it would make sense that the theme song would provoke memories of the show.  What I remember when I hear this theme song is my 5th grade music class at Liberty Elementary School.  That year we learned to sing this song and I can still clearly visualize the wide-ruled paper I wrote the lyrics on in pencil.

Through early morning fog I see
visions of the things to be
the pains that are withheld for me
I realize and I can see…

[chorus]:

That suicide is painless
It brings on many changes
and I can take or leave it if I please.

I try to find a way to make
all our little joys relate
without that ever-present hate
but now I know that it’s too late, and…

[Chorus]

The game of life is hard to play
I’m gonna lose it anyway
The losing card I’ll someday lay
so this is all I have to say.

[Chorus]

The only way to win is cheat
And lay it down before I’m beat
and to another give my seat
for that’s the only painless feat.

[Chorus]

MASH
The sword of time will pierce our skins
It doesn’t hurt when it begins
But as it works its way on in
The pain grows stronger…watch it grin, but…

[Chorus]

A brave man once requested me
to answer questions that are key
‘is it to be or not to be’
and I replied ‘oh why ask me?’

‘Cause suicide is painless
it brings on many changes
and I can take or leave it if I please.
…and you can do the same thing if you choose.

Such deep and gloomy lyrics to teach to a classroom full of children.  Obviously, I can’t forget it.

“I Think I’m Turning Japanese” – The Vapors

“Life in Tokyo” – Japan

Music will often play a kind of soundtrack to your life, especially to the good times with good friends.  I think it’s strange and interesting that there is an Asian theme to these two songs that will eternally be linked to my friendship with Elisabeth.

When I was 7 years old, I was walking back to my house from playing up the street.  The summer day was coming to an end.  It was just dusk outside.  My roller-skates with the pink rubber wheels were slung over my shoulder, tied together at the laces.  Sounds cliché, but it is 100% true.  I could see my mother sitting on the front porch with my 3-year-old brother.  And waiting to cross the street on the opposite curb was some lanky boy I’d never seen before.  As I got closer to home I saw this boy cross the street and go right up onto my porch and talk to my mother.  And as I got closer still, I realized that boy was a girl.  Elisabeth was taller than me but had shorter hair than me.  She was long and skinny.  She was wearing a t-shirt with horizontal alternating navy and white pin-stripes.  She had bubble-gum stuck to her shirt.  She had a white gauze bandage taped to her ankle – a burn from the exhaust pipe of her uncle’s motorcycle.  We became quick friends and over the years these songs were used in group choreographed dance contests we had at her birthday parties.  “I Think I’m Turning Japanese” can absolutely be considered our theme song.

“King of Pain” – The Police

I guess I must have been 12 years old when I read Cujo by Stephen King.  By this time we were living in that huge, drafty house that I did most of my growing up in.  My bedroom was on the first floor, while my mother and brother slept upstairs.  I’ve mostly always read in bed before switching off my bedside lamp and going to sleep.  I’ve not always read with the radio on as well, but that is what I was doing then.  Cujo was so scary and I felt so alone and vulnerable on the first floor.  I had the radio on quietly beside me as I read so as to comfort me.  And then the DeeJay played “King of Pain”.  It was the first time I’d ever heard it.  It was just as dark and eerie as Cujo.  I put the book down and listened to the lyrics and got even more creeped out.  Don’t get me wrong, I really love this song a lot, and part of it’s appeal is what it did to me that night.

“Need You Tonight” – INXS

“Tell It To My Heart” – Taylor Dayne

Okay, I just watched these videos and listened to the lyrics and got a little embarrassed.  Oh my.  Well, you can probably guess that these songs, and the videos, trigger my memories of my “dawn of womanhood”.  Let’s just say that the mature feelings expressed by the lyricists inaccurately describe my experience, but nonetheless, I am transported in time to a certain weekend of my life.  And we’ll leave it at that.

“Big Mouth Strikes Again” – The Smiths

When I married Mike in Oregon we spent a few nights in his mother’s guest bedroom before and after our “honeymoon”.  We listened to The Smiths in the damp coolness of Oregon’s November on the Columbia River.  It sounds slightly romantic, but I assure you, the lyrics should be “sweetness, I wasn’t joking when I said I’d like to smash every tooth in your head.”  I actually love Morrissey and The Smiths and think their lyrics are brilliant, but listening to this one is somewhat bittersweet.

I’m not trying to be morose here, there are songs by the dozens that take me back to happy, happy places.  I just felt this was a nice sampling to share, even if the last few do seem to remind me of things less than ideal.  C’est la vie.

Now it’s your turn.  In the comments section of this post, tell us about a song that transports you to another time and the memory it triggers.  More than one?  Great!  Let’s hear them!

Without music life would be a mistake. — Nietzsche

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After leaving Jenny’s we headed for the Redwood National Park. Once we got past the vineyards and slaughterhouses, northern California reminded me a lot of Oregon. A very natural coastal region. With LOTS of hippies and drifters. This is around the time the word about our trip must have really gotten out, because more and more frequently we passed people on the side of the road giving us the thumbs up. News travels fast, I’m really impressed!
By this time I’ve cut back on how much water I drink and have replaced it with coffee. I need loads of it to keep the road straight in front of me. Luckily, the trend that really took hold in Seattle has oozed it’s way across the nation. But this is something I never see back east and hadn’t seen anywhere else across the country until we got here. It’s like a post-Seattle drip. The roadside drive-through espresso stand.

And Mycol is still asking me why I can’t hold my water any longer than I do, which is about as long as half an hour on a seriously caffeinated morning. I pulled over in a very small town to use the restroom. The only one’s available were at the dock. They pull oysters from these waters. I spoke to a local woman while I admired the beauty and serenity of the Pacific on an early morning. She said we could get the freshest oysters on the half shell just about anywhere in that area. I don’t like oysters on the half shell. Oh, well. But I love this shot.

And this one.

Before this trip I’d been to a lot of places on the west coast. I’d been from San Diego to the Napa Valley, along the northwestern coast of Oregon and along the Columbia River, camped in Gifford Pinchot National Forest in Washington, as well as Seattle and through central Washington as far east as Moses Lake, in the center of the state. I’d always said that Oregon and Washington were some of the most beautiful places I’d been. After this trip I’ll have a stronger opinion about what geographical locations of the United States I’m most attracted to, but for now I will tell you that the final word on Oregon and Washington is that I like Oregon much better, but more on that next time. The other thing is, there is a definite feeling I get about being in California. There is an energy there that I pick up on and it exhilerates me. It definitely has to do with all the John Steinbeck I’ve read and Hollywood’s glorification of California, but nevertheless it is there. I even love the sound of the name “California”. So, as we traveled north into areas I’d not seen before I started to love it even more. Only I realized that it reminded me so much of Oregon at this point, which, I supposed helped Oregon to edge out Washington in my state ranking. It’s big nature out here. It’s the diversity of the blue ocean along the rocky shore that disappears into piney forests and mountains all in one view.


As we got closer to the Redwoods we passed a lot of roadside attractions with americana themes. They did not detract from the natural beauty of the area.


We made it to the Redwood National Park in good time that day. The impression on the way in was that it was remote and that we should stop at the last place possible to get gas, which was a single old-fashioned gas pump on the side of the road between a small convenience store and a place that sold wood-carved bears, lighthouses, windmills, etc. We did stop for gas there and then drove in on a road that was suddenly out of the bright wide open and into the depths of the forest, with sky-high trees on either side, everything shady green and brown with little dapples of sunlight dropping down from above. We entered the park, got our map, and chose a short hike on the Lady Bird Johnson trail, the “jewel” of the park where you could find examples of everything the Redwoods has to offer. Here is the first tree that everyone gets to see up close. It stands in the parking lot at the trailhead and greets them.

I know I haven’t posted basically since I’ve been home. I promise to continue with a little more dedication from now on. Before hitting the road I was a little scared. I was worried about how much it would cost, about what we would do if the car broke down, about whether or not all my “stuff” at home would be alright, and most of all about the safety of my family and how I felt most responsible because it was my idea and I was the driver and obviously Mycol’s safety is my responsibility anyhow. Now that I’m back I feel like I should have been more scared to return! Life seems rather ho-hum here, and it should scare the shit out of me! I wanted to come home and share my experiences with everyone, but like any big adventure you can’t really share it, not like you can with the people you went with. And besides, while you are still on some kind of high from it all, at home no one has moved an inch, they are all still exactly as you left them, like chess pieces on the board waiting for someone to start a game. And this static atmosphere will suck you right back in, until you feel almost like you never went anywhere and you’re back to worrying about all the same old things. So, maybe I haven’t posted because I’ve been trying to figure out how not to get dragged back down by the ever-churning cycle of school days, work days, and chores. Ah, well, I wish I was in Montana. See you back here next post, where I’ll take you on a tour of the Redwoods where we camped the night before heading up to Oregon.

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