The Soundtrack Of My Life

Before I get started on my topic du jour, I want to just take a moment to acknowledge that, on this day in 2013, I had to say goodbye to my favourite polar bear boy, but got the honour of tossing him some fish during his final Keeper Talk at the Toronto Zoo! It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and something I will treasure always. I love that fool bear. Miss you, Hudson!

Anyway, I’ve been big into music pretty much since I was in the womb. Not in a cultured, knowledgeable music snob kind of way, and certainly not in a way that would suggest I can dance any better than a white guy, or sing as well as someone who is tone deaf…I’m actually not great at creating music at all. BUT I love to listen to it. I always have. I always have a song in my head (sometimes stuck there against my will, but mostly I like whatever’s β€œplaying”), and am one of those people who CAN’T really have it playing if I need to focus on anything else, because it’s distracting as hell to me. I want to let me mind go wherever the music takes it, not force myself to concentrate on anything else, like reading, working or conversation.

I spent hours upon hours in my room, listening to music and just thinking about things. I’m pretty sure I did that daily up until I got my own apartment, in my early 30’s. Actually, even more recently than that…probably up until I got my PVR, actually! Haha Damn television. πŸ˜‰

I still do it now, just less often. Definitely while I am cleaning, and every day travelling back and forth on public transit. Music helps me control my rage, apparently!

I don’t have music on when out for a walk with Brody, though. That’s our time together and I want to spend it more with him than inside my own head.

My musical upbringing was deliciously varied. My parents introduced me to classic rock from the 50’s and 60’s, then other crazy things like Roger Whitakker, Johnny Horton, a bunch of country music when my dad was going through that phase, and – who was that ukulele guy? George Formby! Yeah.

My grandfather on my dad’s side was a huge fan of big band music. An ex introduced me to jazz in my 20’s. And then there was just plain old growing up in the 80’s. The first vinyl I ever got was Olivia Newton-John’s Greatest Hits Volume 2. My first cassette tape was Bryan Adams Reckless. I actually kept buying vinyl and then recording them onto cassette pretty much right up until I was buying CD’s, but I did have a few cassettes, in the end. I also recorded a LOT of songs off the radio. Ever do THAT? You wait and wait for the one song you want to come on, and then inevitably lose the beginning of it while the recorder got going. Good times.

It never fails to amaze me how versatile music is. Like different scents, a song can often re-create a memory so strongly that it transports you back in time. I have songs that take me back to different moments of past relationships (and break-ups, let’s be real), and some that just evoke a certain feeling from another time – like elementary school, or high school – various periods of time, I guess is what I’m saying. Then there are more specific memories, like AC/DC Back In Black being played at the back of the bus every day on the way to school in Grade 9. Or how I was sure I could run forever if I had Flashdance (Oh What A Feeling) playing on my headphones. Or singing Lean On Me before the audience arrived to warm up for a band/choir performance and help get rid of any jitters.

The first time I asked a boy to dance was to Every Rose Has Its Thorn in high school. I can still remember the shirt he was wearing and how good he smelled up close. My University residence floor’s pre-going-out routine was to turn off the lights in our lounge, put on hats, and dance on the furniture to KLF’s 3am Eternal. It’s how we bonded, or something. But every time it was played at the bar, you’d better believe we all dropped what we were doing and danced in a circle together, because D-1 RULES!!!

Where was I?

Ah yes, various movie soundtrack songs – anything from Grease brings up memories (especially my host teacher and I showing the Grade 8 kids how it’s done at their graduation dance), that song from Karate Kid about being the best around makes me want to kick some ass through a competition. Mortal Kombat just makes me want to kick some ass in general. Peter Gabriel’s In Your Eyes makes me want to sleep with John Cusack and then break up with him in the hopes that he’ll do that thing with the stereo outside my window.

Anything we played or sang in high school – including the parodies (Phantom of the Oprey most of all).

And any concert I’ve ever been to I am often transported to when I hear various songs in my head. Madonna, Alanis, Melissa Etheridge, Mel C, Gogol Bordello, Rage Against The Machine…Mini Pops… Β 

You know, the usual.

Music is memory. I feel like I’m not making as many musical memories as I used to, but it’s possible that I am, and just won’t realize it until somewhere down the road. Until then, I’m content with re-living memories through music – and living each day surrounded by music – and basically just enjoying the ongoing soundtrack of my life.

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