Saturday, March 18, 2006

The songs of our lives

I've just had the most amazing experience. I was watching TV tonight and I dozed off. When I woke up, there was an infomercial on about the songs of the '70s. It's one of those Time Life collections.

And here's the scary part. I watched the entire half-hour and I knew EVERY FRIGGIN SONG!

I find it amazing how these 150 songs are so recognizable. I know there was a lot of other music (heck, I've still got plenty of vinyl records to prove it, although my 8-tracks are gone now...) but these songs have survived. Not that they were necessarily great songs ("Seem's It never Rains in Southern California" or "Brandy") but they have become memorable. ("Everybody was Kung-Fu Fighting!")

Waking up to an infomercial reminds me of the old Steve Goodman song, Vegematic:
Fell asleep last night with the T-V on. Oh, what a dream I had.
I dreamed I answered every single one of those late night mail order ads.
And four to six weeks later, much to my surprise,
The mailman came to my front door, and I couldn't believe my eyes
When he brought the Vegematic, and the Pocket Fisherman too,
Illuminated illustrated history of life,
And Boxcar Willie with a Ginzu knife,
A bamboo steamer, and a Garden Weasel too,
And a tie-dyed, dayglow souvenir shirt from Six Flags Over Burbank.

There's a larger point here about the power and the place in our society for music. It's not a new thing, of course. It's been a part of society for as long as we've been around. And each generation finds its own identity through the songs they grow up with. And even if I would never say I "liked" these songs, at least not all of them, I can't deny that I recognize -- and identify with -- them. Interesting how powerful this linkage is.

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1 comment:

Paul said...

I hear you, Dave. It's scary how many songs the brain can record. I always stop and watch these infomercials just to see how many songs I remember. I'm amazed at how many I know -- even if they're not from my generation.

I also love the fact that when you hear a song from your past, it immediately conjurs up old memories and feelings.