Me and You Are Subject to the Blues Now Andthen

by Staff

Every time I hear “Kiss Me Deadly” by Generation X I feel a littlequeasy, like a crush-stricken teenager, as the song was basically thelove-scene soundtrack to my adolescence. It was playing when I kissedmy first realgirlfriend and, amazingly, the second.

But not when I lost my virginity, The Doors have that distincthonor. It happened two songs into the second disc of their Best Ofalbum (Jim Morrison works fast), during “Roadhouse Blues.” It wasn’tthe best experience, as it ended during L.A. Woman (look up the tracklisting yourself to find out just how bad that is).

“L.A. Woman” though, the song and the album, don’t just remind meof horrid first experiences, but instead of a routine I’ve had foryears. Every time I drive south over the Grapevine (usually in thedead of night), I queue up Simon and Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits as Ibegin to ascend, and it usually carries me most of the way across.Then, as I hit the downgrade, I strap on L.A. Woman, and the titletrack kicks in about halfway down as the lights of the valley spreadout before me.

I have other musical routines. One of my favorites was every NewYear’s Eve at my old house, at the very second the new year began,we’d play “With a Little Help From My Friends” (The Beatles version)and stand in a circle, arm in arm, singing at the top of our lungs,as champagne rained down in my living room.

That song would be followed by the Circle Jerks rendition of “Puta Little Love In Your Heart,” then Joe Cocker’s version of theearlier song. Then, we’d play all three of ’em again. And again.Sometimes again until the authorities had to be called in to stop it.

I have a lot of songs that remind me of the road, of love lost, ofshimmering moments, wonderful and awful, throughout my life. Iassociate certain artists, albums and songs with people, locationsand remembrances of eras and moments. For as long as I can remember,music has provided a constant soundtrack to my life.

As powerful as many of these musical associations are, the fondestmoments flood back when I listen to Neil Diamond, because Neilreminds me of my mother.

When I hear “Holly Holy” I remember the two of us driving, singingat the top of our lungs. “Forever in Blue Jeans” makes me think ofhow poor we were growing up and how hard she tried to keep me and mysiblings healthy and happy, how she would sacrifice her own comfort,forego her own needs, sometimes even food, to make sure we were takencare of.

I danced with my mom to “Cracklin’ Rosie” at my high schoolgraduation party and watched as my mother and father, who divorcedwhen I was young and never got along well since, danced to “SweetCaroline” on the same occasion, one of just a few in my life wherethey were even in the same room.

Other songs, other moments, other memories.

During our whiskey-sopped high school weekends, my friend Patrickand I would stay up long after everyone else had passed out,listening to Neil and plotting the greatest plan we’d ever hatched:The next time he toured anywhere near us we’d do whatever wasnecessary to take our moms to see him, just the four of us.

Unfortunately, we never got the chance. My mom passed away, avictim of breast cancer, when I was 19 years old.

As strongly as music affects me, there was a list of songs that Icouldn’t even bear to listen to after that. Even songs I never likedbefore developed new meanings that were too much for me to bear.

And under no circumstances could I listen to Neil. The sound ofhis voice would cause me to panic and flee. I’d hear it in a grocerystore and ditch my cart; I’d walk out the door in fear of anemotional outbreak. Once I stopped a crowded elevator and got off,opting to walk up five flights of stairs rather than hear his dreadedvoice.

But I still loved Neil, always have. After about two years theinevitable showdown came. I locked myself in my room and turned thestereo up as loud as possible, dug out my dusty CD copy of NeilDiamond’s Greatest Hits from its hiding place, placed the disc in thetray and hit play.

Neil’s sonic assault was almost more than I could bear, but I heldmy ground, and soon we reached a breaking point. Tears of sorrow andpain transformed into tears of joy as Neil regaled me not withmemories of her painful suffering and tragic death, but instead withthose of her life well-spent giving and helping people, memories ofwhat a wonderful individual she was.

And now I can enjoy the music and the experience they summonwithout breaking down, remember the good times we shared and applythe music to new experiences, to tomorrow’s memories.

–This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of TheDaily Aztec. Send e-mail to letters@thedailyaztec.com.Anonymous letters will not be printed — include your full name,major and year in school.

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