04 June 2010

Musings on Music and Memories

I am often taken by the sudden and particular wonder of a moment and must stop all to bend myself over my notebook and attempt putting it to words. Sometimes this urge to record is convenient, like when I am spiral clomping my way up the seven flights to my apartment and I gain a little rest on the fifth floor. But sometimes it is in the darkness of a sidewalk and I later look on the words with complete confusion as though I had held a pen while suffering an epileptic seizure. But I cannot deny my mind’s need to remember these moments… though I often feel I do them an injustice in my attempts to describe them.

Opening my notebook every few days is like tearing into a mental Christmas morning, where page by page I unwrap things I had forgotten I had thought, and things I had forgotten I had seen (Peeves, this is your cue to chide me for my excessive use of “things”). It seems that I am only sometimes able to be fully aware of my surroundings and open to things that make me marvel for some strange reason, when another time they would seem happenstance and nothing worth blogging home about (very very bad joke). But tonight I took a walk with Coldplay in my ears and no aim in sight and this same walk took on an almost otherworldly feel as my gaze moved from inward to outward.

I passed an elderly couple in matching white pajamas, holding onto each other as they made their way down a stone walkway.

I watched a young woman, very pregnant, rub her belly with a look of distraction, as though it were a magic lamp and not a baby, and she had some wish for it.

A tiny rodent-like spaniel of a dog stood, epically, below a street light, crowing like Peter Pan, its yippy little voice demanding to not only be noticed, but listened to, as though it had something very important to tell us all, but was waiting until it had our full attention.

Small bands of adults slowly phased from one Tai Chi position to another, full of concentration as wilder bands of little boys darted around them, contrasting their peaceful poses by waving plastic weapons at each other.

On a night like this, I feel so… full. As though my soul has eaten a big meal and cannot imagine ever being hungry again.

I bond moments with music, and tonight I re-bonded Coldplay’s Viva La Vida Album (It had formerly been associated with about a month of mornings at work, handling cash by myself… nothing to be missed). But track one—Life in Technicolor—will henceforth be always associated with the skillful balance of walking while reading poetry while eating a Magnum bar (moment of respect for magnum bars: are they not the loveliest of all tasty international ice cream treats? Dear Obama, please bring Magnum bars to America, that is CHANGE I CAN BELIEVE IN) So yes, as Chris Martin withheld his vocal skill and just tickled my ears with his instrumental prowess I strained my eyes against the fading light to read the words of Eliot, and strained my mind to comprehend them, and a musically branded moment was born. I will forever think of “The Hollow Men” and fudgey wonderment when I hear “Life In Technicolor.”

Coldplay was well chosen for this night, because there was an uncharacteristically strong and persistent wind, and a strangeness in the air that even the flocks of frolicking poodles seemed to take note of, pausing every so often in their poodley frolickness to pay homage by standing still, their curly tufts rustling in the breeze.

(Pause: I really am sorry for writing things like that, but it gives me such a good chuckle)

Strange, the things we notice when we are not too deeply committed to our own thoughts… I saw a little girl, probably four years old, in a frilly pink dress with her hair neatly pulled back… she was briefly unattended and seized the moment by taking the empty water bottle in her hand to a big pile of sand, where she scooped in a fair amount, capped it, held it high, and shook it like a maraca to a beat and a tune that was entirely in her own head. Her happy little body did a happy little dance that was familiar to me, as it is the sort of thing I do in celebration, when completely alone.

Overcome by my amusement, I stop to jot this moment down, and a spotted little terrier marches up and presumptuously sniffs at me and it is all too much and I have to throw my head back and laugh. Now, THAT is a moment I want forever bonded to a song, for me to revisit in the future.

Songs have such an amazing power to take me back to times when I have been other Lauren’s than the one I am now. I could catalogue my former selves in neat little playlists… like…

1. Maroon 5- “She Will Be Loved” – I was a Lauren who drove a civic with manual shift and manual windows and it was autumn and I ate every meal alone in my dorm room, where I painted all night, slept half the day and failed my entire first semester of classes.

2. Elton John – “Levon” – I was a Lauren who wished I had the strength to give up a secret I should never have had to keep.

3. Stroke Nine – “Little Black Back Pack” – I was a Lauren whose mind and soul weighed much less than it does now, and who spent hours driving with my sis Moolissa, jamming with the windows down, sitting at green lights (tsk tsk, Moo) and getting sunburns through the moonroof while making multiple stops at Sonic during a summer I still recall as an all-time favorite.

4. Dave Matthews Band – “Pig” – I was a Lauren who borrowed the strength of friends to give up a secret I should never have had to keep. (and wore tapestries with these friends, while dancing around the house and the yard—3 woot salute goes out to Peeves and Sars: Woot! Woot! Woot!)

5. Imogene Heap – “Speeding Cars” – I was a Lauren whose mind was bent on law school (yeah … I know, I now think it as ridiculous as you) and who slept in a tent in my bedroom because I had thrown my bed away and it was cold on the floor because the window was like a hole, and who doesn’t want to sleep in a tent in their bedroom anyways?

6. Led Zepplin – “When the Levees Break” (im sorry, is that the actual name? woops) –I was a Lauren who planned on buying a house (WTF!) and could not sit flat on my rear because my tailbone was broken. This was also the Lauren who learned how to drink liquor straight without a mixer because A: my butt hurt like the dickens, and I don’t like taking pills and B: it was hella cold outside and my puppy required near two hours of walking come sleet or snow and I had no decent coat and C: It was booze or abuse of the puppy, and she was too expensive to mistreat.

7. G. Love & Special Sauce- “Milk and Cereal” –I was a Lauren who never slept (that hasn’t changed!) but stayed up late with my sister Dawana, watching funny videos all night while she refinished her kitchen cabinets and we talked about the harder things in life, ending every night near dawn with a little laugh and an “it’s been fun.”

8. Jimi Hendrix – “Angel” – I was a Lauren who felt too much fear and turned it into spite and hand painted signs on bedsheets that I hung on our front porch for all of Norman to puzzle over.

9. The Lion King Intro Song That Is Just A Bunch of Noises/”When You Believe” from The Prince of Egypt- I was a Lauren who lived rent free on a mattress on the floor of a house of girls who reminded me what it was to care and be cared for, in a time when I had lost my understanding of joy. (woots all around for K-Bag, Peeves, Schmalone, and Mandaze)

10. Jefferson Starship- that “nothin’s gonna stop us” song – I was a Lauren (who for some reason or another listened to Dehlila at night and often heard this song) who did not sleep at night (again, that hasn’t changed!) but held my infant niece, Layni, while her parents slept, and came to the decision that I DID in fact believe in “love” as something mysterious and powerful and difficult to explain, because I did not know why, but I loved that baby.

11. Matchbox 20 – “How Far We’ve Come” – I was a Lauren who could look forward to Wednesday nights, when I would chill at the Montford Inn with me sista Brittness, and we would eat pizza shuttle, cheezits, and brownies, and drink the hotel’s wine (tsk tsk) and watch very ridiculous TV (America’s Next Top Model, anyone?) and talk about life and what we wanted to do and be.

Oh so many more I could put down….

12. Micheal Buble- “Haven’t Met You Yet” – I was a Lauren who could not listen to this song without dancing (very badly, I am sure) even if it was at a table at starbucks, or in the middle of an intersection, or on the roof of her building (seemingly locked door + jiggling = “what a lovely view!”)

Oh wait. I’m still number 12. Oh geeze, I guess I’m still all of them, in one way or another.

There are some songs that have more memories than I could ever list, like the proclaimers’ “I’m Gonna Be” (the I would walk 500 miles song) and “Defying Gravity” from Wicked, and Cohen’s “Walking in Memphis” (love that song!!!!!!)

There are songs I have loved, even recently, that I can’t listen to right now, because I don’t trust myself not to regress into thoughts and feelings and memories I don’t want to revisit. They are thus… momentarily retired. Like a Broadway musical, I will one day bring them back to myself in some glorious revival tour, and decide whether those thoughts have value in revisiting, or whether they should be forever stripped from those songs so that I can actually enjoy them again. It is unbelievable how a song or an album has such power to lob me back to a specific time in my life. Unbelievable…

There’s a matchbox 20 song that will always remind me of a very long and very cold trek across Vienna, a Ben Folds’ song that will put me in Sars’ old red Jetta, a Jack Johnson album that reminds me of a beautiful night spent with friends at Fenway (NOT the stadium, but the lovely green house in N-town) that I journaled near ten pages about, sitting on my front porch later that night during a thunderstorm. Another song is me crossing state lines in a monsoon after flying across the country on my birthday to pick up the land rover I had bought on Ebay, another is sitting in a bathtub crying for hours, and another is me and my nephew Ty jumping on my bed when he was only a toddler… another is me and my nephew Ty, now nearly ten years old, laughing at my brother Russell trying to dance, just a little over a month ago.

Agh, here I have done it again, getting all long-winded and over-exampley, but I could not help it—my ipod is plugged into a speaker that is churning out such wonders as “Mr. Jones” and Usher’s “Love in this Club” and I would continue to write run-on sentences all night if it weren’t for the apple sitting in the kitchen begging my hungry stomach to carry it out to the balcony, where I will eat it with a knife and fancy myself some sort of pirate, looking out across the city and its smog and neon lights that are all I have for stars and thus gladly count and make wishes upon. So I say to you now, Good Night. Because it is.

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