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shuffling through time and space
the soundtrack of my life, part one
by juli mccarthy

In a life filled with twists and turns, music has been the one constant. No matter where I am or what I am doing, music has the ability to pick me up and put me somewhere else. I’ve become very fond of my computer’s Media Player, and have loaded over 4000 songs (and that’s not counting Christmas music). Almost every song in that collection is attached to a memory.

I’m particularly fond of the shuffle feature on my media player. It’s much like hopping into the WayBack Machine with Mr. Peabody and his boy, Sherman, and setting the dial on “random.” I’ve got forty years of memories to track...


Last Night I Didn’t Get To Sleep At All, by the Fifth Dimension. We’re pulling into the driveway behind my grandparents’ house. It must be a Sunday, because after dinner we’re in the stamp-sized living room with its gilded mandolin-and-fruit wall plaque over the piano. Poppy teaches me to play “shave and a haircut, two bits” and I spend the rest of the evening finishing his performances with that gleeful little flourish...


Led Zeppelin, Over The Hills And Far Away. Rob’s got his guitar out. He’s naked. So am I. Fletch, the world’s fattest cat, is curled up on the end of the bed. The light is on in the bathroom, and there’s incense burning on the preserved tree trunk that serves as a bedside table. Rob’s fingers aren’t cooperating, and he flubs the intro. We laugh, kiss, and kick the cat off the bed...


Jesus... actually, Judas, in the person of Murray Head. It’s Heaven On Their Minds and Janie’s guzzling Mountain Dew in the living room. There are cigarette burns on the arm of the sofa, blonde stripes in my hair, and an earring that wasn’t there the night before in my left ear. Beth was here last night with a hickey the size of a silver dollar – she says she got it from Sonny. Sure hope Kim doesn’t find out about that. Janie and I watch the sun come up...


Jay Ferguson – whatever happened to that guy? Thunder Island. I’m peddling like mad to get my bike up the hill on Pine street. I can hear the generator for my bike light whirring, and I’m watching the light flicker as I falter, then give up and walk my bike the rest of the way up. Robin and Julia and Sally are picking wild strawberries in the field behind Robin’s house. In a year, we won’t be able to find any strawberries – they’re already breaking ground toward the back of the field for the new subdivision...


REO Speedwagon, Time For Me To Fly and the summer of first love. Michael. Oh, Michael. In the pool, on the porch, in the basement. There’s a green polka-dot bikini on the floor, a white sundress hanging in the closet. A chain made from pull tabs crisscrosses the ceiling. Did you go by way of China to get those cigarettes, and don’t kiss that girl in front of your mother. He’s on the balcony and who do you think you are, Superman? Hot sweet kisses and we just fell asleep, I swear, nothing happened...


Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. Cyndi Lauper dances on the screen while this girl dances on the bar, sells shots and flirts with Tim in the kitchen. Tim calls me The Killer, probably my favorite nickname ever. Glen’s working the door and showing up for dinner every night at Mom’s. There are freshly canned hot peppers and watch geese honking at 5:30 in the morning and not enough sleep and I’m matching Mark drink-for-drink. Powder puff football against the girls from Oliver’s and do you call that a fashion statement? Thirty crystal shotglasses killed in one fell swoop by a drunk putting on his coat...


Bohemian Rhapsody. Queen, of course. Uncle Mike says I can use the headphones if I promise to sit still. I don’t understand how Freddie’s voice moves from one ear to the other. Poppy’s schnauzer, Bogie, is barking in the upstairs hallway and Nonny’s making gravy. I don’t think I’m allowed to look at the Beatles book, and this feeling is confirmed when I see the naked lady. There’s an orange VW in the driveway, and Mom calls it the Great Pumpkin...


Safety Dance! Men Without Hats. And mannequins without heads. Alan was sleeping on the floor when I tied his ankle to the mannequin on wheels. I forgot, and now he’s up. Before I can shout a warning, he starts walking, then turns and punches the mannequin rattling behind him. His face when the mannequin’s head goes flying is too funny. I can’t stop laughing...


Oh, Wings. Silly Love Songs. It’s hot. Daddy’s loaded the car and we’re off to the flea market. Mom finds a girl who makes personalized macrame chokers, and she’s excited because Kajon has never been able to buy anything with her name on it. This weekend we’ve got jewelry. Next weekend it might be candles or incense or designer soaps...


Vanessa Williams is singing Colors of The Wind and I’m taking my daughter to Grandma’s house. She’s got jelly shoes and she wants to show them off to Grandpa. She wants to play with the flashlight, but her fingers are too little to work the switch, so Dick spends twenty minutes turning it off and on while I sit in the kitchen and copy out a recipe for porcupine meatballs. Rose is wrapping birthday gifts for Mary. Everything she picked out is purple...


Don’t Rain On My Parade, Barbra Streisand. Only it was sung by Laura, my English teacher by day, my co-cast member by night. We’re doing a Broadway review, and Laura’s singing this one. Me? I’m dancing with a little old man, and this is the ugliest costume ever, all pink nylon and sequins. After rehearsal, Laura and Scott and I go out for coffee. Kevin’s being moody and Steve is smoking a joint behind the church...


Southern Cross, CSN. Jesus GOD, how much did I drink? And I smoked WHAT? Karen’s broken her ankle trying to jump a foot-high barrier and can’t feel a thing, she’s so wasted, and we’re dying with laughter. Lee’s not as big as Karen is, but he’s going to carry her in anyway, because we paid a fortune for these tickets. Here comes Security, act normal! Oh man, who’s going to explain this to Karen’s mom...


Ahhhh, good times, good times...

(...to be continued...)


A whole gallon of attitude, poured into a pint container.

more about juli mccarthy


shuffling through time and space, part two
the soundtrack of my life, continued
by juli mccarthy
topic: music
published: 8.15.05

when i was 15, moby was a dick
does getting older mean turning the volume down?
by juli mccarthy
topic: music
published: 8.14.00


robert melos
8.3.05 @ 3:02a

Musical memories. I love this. Now I'm remembering so much I'd forgotten of my own musical memories. Fantastic piece. Can't wait for the sequel.

russ carr
8.3.05 @ 10:53a

Thanks for remembering that Murray Head had a life before he spent that night in Bangkok. I played that album to death.

matt kelley
8.3.05 @ 11:31a

Great visuals to accentuate the audibles, Juli. Some of your random song picks brought me distant memories too, though none involved naked guys with guitars. I'm assuming there's something by Bowling For Soup in Part II.

Trivia -- Murray Head, whose real-life brother Anthony played Giles on "Buffy."

stephen cook
8.3.05 @ 11:38a

Nice job Juli. I think we should all try to write one of these. I can't wait to do my next shuffle. My IPOD is charging as we speak!!

juli mccarthy
8.3.05 @ 11:41a

Honestly, Stephen, the only reason I don't have an iPod is that I can't stand having things stuck in my ears. The actual stereo has capacity limits, so when I figured out the Windows Media Player, I went crazy. It's like my own personal radio station - no commercials, no DJs, and they only play songs I like.

russ carr
8.3.05 @ 11:54a

Matt Kelley brings the Buffy Love! And on a not-entirely-unrelated tangent to bring this back to music, I had the libretto for "Once More, With Feeling" running through my head while cooking dinner the other night. "First I'll help her, then I'll kill her/I think this line's mostly filler..."

Juli, you can use old-style cans with an iPod, too, as long as you've got an adapter. Many audio companies are bringing out updated versions of cans specifically for digital music players, too.

juli mccarthy
8.3.05 @ 12:34p

Thanks Russ, but I don't like headphones really any better than I like earplug thingies. I don't know if I can explain it, but I always think there's something really antisocial about walking around with private music.

tracey kelley
8.4.05 @ 10:53a

Heh - very cool stuff here.

Sometimes, I really dig headphones, especially when I'm trying to really get into the music or get into what I'm doing with the music.

juli mccarthy
8.4.05 @ 11:02a

Well, there is that, Tracey. Yeah, sometimes I just curl up on the floor in front of the stereo with 'phones on and REALLY listen to the music, but that's when actively listening to the music is the whole purpose.

sandra thompson
8.12.05 @ 9:07a

Since most of you have never lived in a world without headphones, perhaps I should tell you about my first experience with them: I'd just eaten four hits of church acid and been taken to a friend's house by some other friends. He handed me his newly acquired headphones and I put them on to listen. I'll never forget that girl in the room with no eyes.

jael mchenry
8.12.05 @ 3:06p

"Church acid?"

I am creeped out on many levels.

Great expression of how music transports you, Juli.

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