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

I have lots of bad memories. You can’t get through forty years of living without acquiring some, and a dysfunctional family and some really bad choices on my part have left me with more than my fair share in the tears and regrets department. The odd thing is, I don’t seem to associate any of those bad memories with music.

There are plenty of songs that make me cry. A sad or sentimental song will wring the last teardrop out of me in three minutes flat. But there are no unhappy memories in the music. Even in the songs that bring to mind a lost friend or a family member who’s passed away, the music brings only good memories...

:shuffle:

Let The Music Play by Shannon. I’m with The Other Michael, and we’re dancing at his grandparents’ 40th anniversary. Ron’s laughing and telling Michael to skip to the part where the space between us disappears. Michael isn't ready yet to tell his grandfather why we’re not a couple, but at this point neither of us can see the harm in humoring the old man a little bit. A little dirty dancing will keep him from giving Michael grief for a few days...

:shuffle:

I’m Not In Love, 10cc. I’m in the “way back” of the station wagon, back when there were flip-up seats back there. I’m dozing off as we’re driving home from the Dells. Dad has promised that he will wake me at the state line so that I can tell people I walked from Wisconsin to Illinois. There’s a whispered interlude in this song – be quiet, big boys don’t cry – and it scares the shit out of me in my half-awake stage. Dad explains, but I’m wide awake now...

:shuffle:

Sad Eyes by Robert John. I’m ditching school again, hanging out at Roman’s and tentatively fending off the equally tentative advances Debbie is making toward me. I think she might be gay. I wonder if I am gay? Kimmy and Mike are making out by the jukebox, Myron calls me a space cadet and Rats is looking for weed...

:shuffle:

The Girl All The Bad Guys Want, Bowling For Soup. Trekking into the city with a car full of teenagers and someone else's husband. Katie's broken the keychain, Sam's talking to strangers and are you standing in a hole? Good thing we brought the Human Wall, the girls would be moshed to bits. Excuse me, officer, where the hell am I...

:shuffle:

Pink Floyd, Comfortably Numb. I’m waiting tables on a Saturday and the place is packed. I’ve got The Wall on cassette in my purse, so I can give it to John. I tell Sonja that John is pretty special. When he shows up after a 45 mile drive to drop off a skein of embroidery floss, Sonja starts to believe me. She contrives to walk past the table where he sits. When she comes back, she tells me, “God knows you could do worse.” Now all I have to do is ditch Thomas for good...

:shuffle:

Goody Two-Shoes, Adam Ant. Splitting a room with eight people because we’ll be sleeping in shifts if we sleep at all. Jayson’s in the bathroom changing and Rosalie’s putting the finishing touches on my vampire costume. There’s a panel discussion on sex in zero gee, then a midnight film festival in the hucksters’ room. Alan uses a sword to hack a kiwi fruit in half and there are Ninja Turtles at the door...

:shuffle:

Barenaked Ladies singing One Week. I can hear Kiel repeating “chickety-china the Chinese chicken” over and over in the back seat. Beth has dropped a tray of baked eyeballs, and tells me I’m the only person in the world who knows why that is funny. We’re headed to Pearl Art and maybe the paper store if there’s time...

:shuffle:

Fleetwood Mac, Gold Dust Woman. Avocado green curtains and shag carpet. Uncle Paul leaving lavishly illustrated notes on the bathroom mirror for me. Loading up grocery boxes for the party, and are you really going to eat those clams RAW? I promise not to tell anyone about the steaks he nicked from the grocery store if he lets me drive home...

:shuffle:

George Thorogood. Move It On Over. I’m driving a rusted ’71 Ford Galaxie 500 completely covered with tempera paint. Heather’s sitting shotgun and we’re hopelessly lost on the backroads of Wisconsin. How hard could it be to find the only concert venue within 100 miles? By the time we get there, Edgar Winter is onstage, so Heather and I hang in the parking lot for a bit, when two security types stop to admire the car. We score backstage passes...

:shuffle:

Wham – Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go. Such a silly, bouncy song, because I’m in a silly, bouncy mood. Stereo is cranked all the way up and the house is shaking. I’m trying to fold up the sofa bed and Karen’s telling me to be careful. She’s making coffee and shaking her head. I’m fine. Haven’t felt this good in weeks. Oooh. Muscle cramp? Ow! Oh my God, call John, I think my water just broke…

:shuffle:

Velvet Goldmine by Bowie. It’s Karebear’s birthday, and we’re having a Kleptomaniac party. All the gifts are stolen. No retail, no personal belongings, that’s the rule. David snagged the salt shakers from Denny’s, Jamie brought a construction sawhorse and the light won't stop blinking. I walked right out of the Biograph Theater with their big Marlboro ashtray. Spaz comes in with the winning gift, the street sign from the corner of Lincoln and Columbia...

:shuffle:

Storybook Love, Willie DeVille. The dress is long and white and the garter is slipping down my leg. John pulls his hand away as I go to slip the ring on his finger. He leans toward me and whispers, “The LEFT hand, honey.” My sister and Traci are struggling not to laugh and failing miserably. Grandpa is wearing red suspenders and yellow socks, Mom is wearing a pink dress and a red nose. We’re too broke to afford a honeymoon, but Pete and Jo and Al and Karen put their heads together and buy us a night at the Holiday Inn...

:shuffle:

4000 songs, each with its own moment in time. The people and places of my past stay with me long after the laughter fades and the tears dry. Even as I finish this column, the media player shuffles to 2112, by Rush, and I’m in Robin’s bedroom after a sleepover...


ABOUT JULI MCCARTHY

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

more about juli mccarthy

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