Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Early Tunes

A good writer knows the importance of the five senses.

You have to make you reader see the world your characters inhabit. A reader needs to hear the pinched nasal wine of you protagonist's ex-wife to sympathize when she nags him for some long ago sin. They should taste your characters blood when that same ex-wife goes beyond nagging and hires a fat guy named Bruno to teach him lesson. They want to feel that jagged broken tooth scrape against a fat lip. They need to smell the damped oil stained concrete when said characters is left in a crumpled heap an eerie parking garage. (Does anything good ever happen in a parking garage?)

Anyway, a good song not only uses these same techniques but what I find fascinating about music, is that I often, years later, hear a song and have it instantly take me back in time to another time and place. Given that fact, I'm going to from time to time talk about a few songs and where they take me.

First I'm going to talk about the ten songs that take me back to early childhood. The songs that make me think of the days when I traipsed the halls of Oakdale Elementary.

#10 We Got The Beat -- The Go-Gos -- Okay, this song makes me think of one of the great movies of all time, Fast Times at Ridgemont High. And thinking of that movie brings about memories of Phoebe Cates illustrious dive sequence which is film making at its best and perhaps the catalyst for the onset of puberty for me as well as all preadolescent boys in the early 80s.

We Got The Beat - Go-Gos

#9 Good Ol' Boys -- Waylon Jennings -- Back in the day me and my buddies thought Dukes of Hazard was the greatest television show ever created. We used to write our own episodes and fashion all kinds of crap into bows and arrows to pretend we were like Bo and Luke Duke trying to evade Roscoe P Coltrane by shooting dynamite arrows.

The Dukes of Hazzard - Waylon Jennings

#8 Jack and Diane -- John Cougar Mellancamp - Yeah I know he's cougarless these days but back then I thought a mellancamp was a bunch of tenters eating watermelons. Also the first time I saw the video (Why doesn't MTV show music videos anymore?) for this one I was so young that I found it disgusting when Jack french kissed Diane.

Jack and Diane - John Mellencamp

#7 Anything by Ray Stevens -- Okay I'll admit there was once a time I thought Ray Stevens was the most clever and witty fellow in the world. The Streak, Three Legged Man, Ahab the Arab. I loved that stuff when I was a grade schooler.

The Pirate Song - Ray Stevens

#6 Gonna Hire a Wino -- David Frizzell - Sadly this song was pretty much my mother's theme song. and while it is a cleverly written tale about a woman who is married to a man who drinks too much, it still makes me a little sad to hear it.

Im Gonna Hire A Wino - Lefty Frizzell

#5 The Trooper -- Iron Maiden - This is the song that propelled me into the metal phase of my youth. the imagery in the song still impresses me but the mullet it spawned was not a pretty sight.

The Trooper - Iron Maiden

#4 King of the Road -- Roger Miller - Sure this song is way older than I am but I remember my dad singing it's lyrics over and over. I actually hated it because of that same reason. an while I can appreciate the song now it still makes me feel like a little kid. I have included R.E.M's version of the song because it most differs from my dad's.

King Of The Road - R.E.M.

#3 Big Balls -- AC/DC - Okay I'm not proud of it, but me and one of my buddies stole this cassette from my older brother and blared it for the sole purpose of traumatizing the little Jehovah's Witness girl that lived across the street.

big balls.....AC/DC

#2 A Boy Named Sue -- Johnny Cash - My name is Sue! How do you do? Man did I love that song. And you can't go wrong with Johnny.

A Boy Named Sue - Johnny Cash

#1 Footloose -- Kenny Loggins - I'm going to share my exact imagery for this one. With one note this song makes me think of my friend's butt stuck in a bucket. Here's the scene. I'm twelve, he's twelve. We are locked out of my house and he's gotta go the bathroom REALLY bad. I'm talking serious sit down kind of go not a simple leak. But we can't get in and we are too far from his house for him to make it. So he fins this empty bucket in my backyard and for whatever reason decides it will make a fine toilet. As he sits and does his business he sings these lyrics ...

Loose, footloose,
Kick off your Sunday shoes

The movie was brand new but his sister had taken him. I hadn't even heard of it yet. I asked him about it and he told me about the movie. Then he discovered that his butt was stuck in the bucket. So anytime I hear Footloose I remember him screaming and yelling for me to help while I laughed until tears came and my side hurt. Yeah, he finally got the bucket off and yeah he wanted to kill me for laughing. But not nearly as bad as he would want to kill me if I named him here in my blog.

So give me a song that harkens up images of your school days.


Kristen Painter said...

King of the Road always reminds me (fondly) of my late paternal grandmother.

Songs that remind me of my high school days are pretty much anything off the Breakfast Club soundtrack.

alex keto said...

I liked the bit about the AC/DC song and the Jehovah's witness.

but hey look on the bright side, you gave her a reason to keep trying to clean up the world. Afterall, there were still folks like you around.

Angie Ledbetter said...

Guitarzan! :) I know I'm older than you, but I musta been enjoying some of those same tunes when they first came out.

Elton John's Mad Man Across the Water album. Sweet!

Anonymous said...

footloose was the first cassette i ever purchased. i was so proud! :)

we also used to stay up late sneaking listens to dr. demento's show.

hmm ... songs. these are embarrassing: wham's wake me up before you go go, cyndi lauper girls just wanna have fun. good times. :)

Melissa Amateis said...

You have GOT to put the butt in the bucket in a book some day! That was HILARIOUS.

Songs always bring me right back to those "cherished" memories, too. Whenever I hear Pearl Jam's remake of that song about the car crash (can't remember the name), I literally get nauseous since when it came out, I was in the early stages of my pregnancy.

Tracy said...

The first one that came to mind was Step by Step by New Kids on the Block... So now that everyone is already laughing at me, I'll continue.

The scene is me and my best friends sitting in my basement in our sleeping bags with popcorn and all kinds of snacks, watching the PayPerView concert my parents ordered for my birthday --- and bawling our eyes out because we loved them so much.... LOL. I still have a special place in my heart for Jonathan... shhh :)

G. B. Miller said...

AC/DC was the first rock band I followed in high school.

However, my favorite song that brings back memories (sad and otherwise) is "Take Me Home, Country Roads" (John Denver).

Runer up would be "When The Stars Beging to Fall" (The Seekers).

Lyzzydee said...

This is really weird because some of those songs featured in my youth/childhood and we are not the same age!! My dad was a mad Johny Cash fan so I was subjected to loads of his stuff, including a boy named sue, mum loves Kenny Rogers so Ruby, don't take your love to town featured as well. Mysef I was in love with Donny Osmond, who was quite obviously saving himself for me, I have to admit to going to see him in concert twice in a year in London, sell out venues, he didn't save himself for me and is now a bloody fantastic looking grand dad. Standby me always reminds me of the Stephen King movie of the same name, again I am very bitter because I consider that I discovered Stephen King long before he was popular and I was hoping that my relationship with him would remain exclusive and again I have been let down.
The first track I ever bought was Simon and Garfunkles Bridge over troubled water, still love it and still can't hit the high notes!!!
Feel good songs, B52's love shack, Lulu - Shout, Plus I love Feargal Sharkey and A good Heart. (I have a fair few of those songs on my blog) Great post Travis!!

pattinase (abbott) said...

Sad to say, I'd be talking about the Beatles and the Stones.

Blogless Troll said...

I used to beg my mom to roll down the car window so I could jump in like Bo and Luke.

Anonymous said...

boy named sue = one of my favorite songs ever.

I remember one day I discovered a pile of cassettes that belonged to my mom and dad--two Marvin Gayes, one Four Tops, and Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels. I still remember the summer that I listened to those four tapes one after the other after the other. I can't hear any of the songs now without remembered dancing around my room... to lyrics I didn't quite understand...


C.S. Perry said...

I like "Baby Elephant Walk."

It reminds me of elephants.

the walking man said...

While every song 'cept the metal was one that i listened to occasionally. we had a homogeneous 'hood you see...but the one that always takes me back through time is "Won't Get Fooled Again."

Detroit was well radicalized by the time I was 15.


I love all those songs..
my school day songs were done by the platters, chuck berry, fats domino,elvis, ricky nelson,and bill haley and the comets..good times..

March2theSea said...

I graduated in 1988 from highschool and if you read the yearbook most folks had their favorite band as U2 as the Joshua Tree was really big at the time. To this day the intro to Where the Streets Have No Name instantly rewind my life. Pour Some Sugar on Me was MASSIVE that summer/fall so it was right after we go out of highschool but had the summer..so I can't really think of the beach without someone having the Leppard tape close at hand.

Great post..you know me and music...so I dug.
Well done.

Jess said...

Rock on, T. Music is a worthy post, always. I love it!

Throwing in the bucket story was simply hilarious.

Cloudia said...

John Lennon's IMAGINE puts me in a refuge cathedral. I have asked for it at my (hopefully distant) funeral... aloha!

Barbara Martin said...

I'm with Patti Abbott on the Stones, though I would add Deep Purple and Meatloaf. At my high school graduation the theme song was "Those Were The Days" sung by Mary Hopkin. There were disagreements among the student body whether this was a good choice. Today, I'd say it was a great choice and certainly reflects our growing up years.

Growing up in grade school through the 50s I listened to whatever my oldest brothers listened to: Buddy Holly, Paul Anka, The Everly Brothers, Marty Robbins, The Platters, etc. The list goes on.

Thanks for the nostalgia, Travis.

Bubblewench said...

Anything Johnny Cash.. I remember buying the AC/DC album with Big Balls and just playing it over and over to piss off my mom...