Joni Mitchell's lyrics are playing in the background, sung by Judy Collins...
lyrics are such a funny thing...words that some songwriter penned a few years ago or a lot of years ago...they have the power to take me back in time to the very first time I heard a song or the last time I listened to a certain song without crying.
Last night we rented "Music and Lyrics" with Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore. What a delightful movie! We were laughing out loud from the very first frame...they have an incredible on-screen chemistry that is rare. His solemn and often sad characterization of a role is balanced perfectly by her 'sunshine and lollipops' nature. A delight to watch!
When was the last time you laughed out loud for a couple of hours straight, relaxing and enjoying a movie like this? Its been too long for me, so this felt like a gift from the angels. The soundtrack from the movie was full of nostalgic music and it was a lovely listen.
The Kingston Trio is singing "The Ballad of Tom Dooley" in the background, on PBS...I've immediately flashed back to a hot, humid Manitoba summer day, school is out and we are free for the summer! Walking east out of my home town, along a dusty gravel road toward the dugout at English's farm, we sang this song over and over, until our throats were raw...laughing and chasing each other through the summer heat and into the cold, muddy, bloodsucker-filled water at the bottom of the dugout.
What is it that makes the music and lyrics of any given song such a powerful trigger deep within our memory banks? Maybe it is a connection to our soul that happens when we hear a familiar song from long ago. Perhaps it turns a switch on somewhere deep within our subconscious minds, allowing the free-flowing emotions to have full rein in our hearts. Whatever it is, there's nothing like the flood of feeling-good or feeling-bad that flows when a song touches us.
Now, the Highwaymen are singing "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?" and I am in awe about the timelessness of those words...haven't we learned anything since this was a hit in the early 60's?
Well, haven't we?
I guess not.
How else is it that the lyrics are as fresh in today's world of the war in Iraq and the conflict in Afghanistan as they were back then, with the Vietnam war ongoing...
"Where have all the soldiers gone, long time passing?
Where have all the soldiers gone, long time ago?
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Gone to graveyards everyone...
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?"
Remember Peter, Paul and Mary's lovely version of "Lemon Tree?"
Or, Glen Yarborough's "Baby, the Rain Must Fall?"
Gordon Lightfoot's ballads...
...the Beach Boys' endless summers...
I wonder if there are popular songs today that will be remembered like these, half a dozen decades from now, when my grandchildren are my age. There are none that I can think of, but then I'm listening to 50 year old songs most of the time, so I'd not know what is current nor if it is any good, would I?
Funny how a song has this much effect on a person...
Funny, maybe...but I think I like it!
What are your favorite touchstones of musical memory?
Can you make a list of them and keep it in a journal somewhere?
I'm going to.