A long, long time ago … I can still remember … how that music made me smile.
If you don’t know that song, you’re not American. And no, I’m not going to sing all nine minutes of it.
Don McLean’s American Pie is an iconic recount of the 1959 plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper – otherwise known as "the day the music died". It makes you want to drive your Chevy to the levee, drink whiskey and rye and dance… real… slow.
When you hear that song, it likely takes you back to a time in your life. For me, I remember sitting on the bed in my older sister’s room back in the 70’s singing it, along with the Knack’s “My Sharona”, Peter Frampton’s “Baby I Love Your Way” and Kansas’ “Dust in the Wind”.
Think about it. One song can transport your memories and affect you in ways that no other genre can. Does Candle in the Wind make you think of Marilyn Monroe or Princess Diana? Does Van Halen’s “Jump” take you back to high school or were you dancin’ to Diamond Dave in diapers at the time? And were you wishing you were younger during the Disco Era or flaunting the white Saturday Night Fever suit?
No matter what, we all have songs that make us FEEL. And that’s what music’s supposed to do. After a bad breakup, there were songs that would literally tear my heart out if I heard them on the radio. In times I was separated from my kids for long periods, Aerosmith’s “Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” and Phil Collins’ “You’ll Be in My Heart” made me teary for my babies. And my sister and I are still fighting over the rights to having Elton John’s “Funeral for a Friend” played at our memorial service.
I always love to hear stories about old songs from people my parents’ age (not that you’re old, Mom). I often wonder what interesting life ties there are to “I’ll Be Seeing You”, “When Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” or “Sentimental Journey” to a person from that era. I bet there are some grand tales to be told about chance meetings, war-time relationships, and lifetime romances that are now in their 50th or 60th year.
I wonder about kids of today and what their memories of music will be. Will Ke$ha’s “We R who we R” make them wax nostalgic of texting marathons into the wee hours of the morning? Is Katie Perry’s "California Girls" going to transport them back in time to the days of YouTube like Def Leppard did for us and MTV? Is Justin Bieber the new David Cassidy? And will these dark and brooding children listening to Slipknot, Disturbed and System of a Down grow up to wonder what the hell they were thinking?
Let’s take a little music poll. What’s a tune that has true meaning to you… and why? Post your comments below. Whether it’s the Beatles, Boston or the Bay City Rollers, I’m always a sucker for the story behind the song.