I often think about the power of music. It lifts us up when we are sad, calms our nerves, makes us laugh, and brings us to tears. Music is a time machine, transporting us back to another time by just the sounds of a few notes in a song.
When I hear a song called “Poor People of Paris”, I am a little girl—not because I remember the song but because Grandma told me many times how I loved to dance to that song which was number one on the Billboard charts during the spring of 1956. It is interesting that an orchestral tune made the list during a year when Elvis dominated the chart for twenty-five weeks.
I hear “March of the Toys”, and I am sitting in Aunt Marian’s family room on Thanksgiving Day with my cousins watching the Laurel and Hardy movie, “March of the Wooden Soldiers.” That movie would keep all of us youngins busy and out of the hair of the adults who were preparing our Thanksgiving feast. I wonder if you are the only cousins who have never seen it.
“I Go to Rio” by Pablo Cruise plays on the radio, and I am suddenly in the Wyoming desert with Dad on our way to Yellowstone Park in 1978. We rented a car with an eight-track player, and knowing radio reception would be erratic, we stopped in a store in Salt Lake City, Utah and picked up some tunes for the car, which we played over and over for the seven hour drive.
Then there are the wedding songs. “Color My World” was a very popular song in the early seventies often used for a couple’s first dance. I am at my cousin Tommy’s wedding when I hear that song.
“Here, There and Everywhere” beams me back to our wedding. We chose that as our first dance because we liked the Beatles, but more importantly, it was representative of Dad’s work life—always on the road somewhere.
When Billy Joel’s “Just the Way You Are” plays, I seesaw between Aunt Ar and Uncle Paul’s 1980 wedding in New Jersey and Kelly and Mark’s wedding twenty-eight years later in South Carolina. The music transporter zaps us around quite quickly! And Jamie, I am so sorry to tell you that I associate the Pharrell Williams song “Happy” with your wedding more than any other since it was played so much that day even though you did not want it played at all!
Grandma gave me a music box when Kelly was born. It is a clown in a square-shaped box which plays a song called “Be a Clown” used in the movie “Singing in the Rain.” Boom! I am back in time rocking each of you and thinking of Grandma.
You all loved the Disney movies, so I will always think of each of you when a song from “Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast,” or “Aladdin” is played. Occasionally I switch to the Disney Station on my car’s satellite radio hoping to hear one of those songs. When I hear “The Circle of Life,” I am back on the playground at Valley View School watching at least one (quite possibly all) of you exercising with the school during ACES (All Children Exercising Simultaneously) Day. Do they still continue that tradition?
And then there are songs or artists that always make you remember the person. “Queen” is Billy, “Steely Dan” is Dad, Billy Joel is Aunt Ar, Celine Dion’s “Because You Loved Me” is Uncle Larry, and “Over the Rainbow” is a sweet little boy named Daniel. Hear the song, remember the person and close your eyes. In a snap you are somewhere else. It happens all the time. The power of music!