Moved by Manilow.

barryThis week’s WordPress writing challenge was to write about how music moves me.

Hearing certain songs can bring me back to the exact slices of time in my life as quickly as the sound of a can opener can bring a cat to the kitchen.  These melodies are able to suspend any current moment, often squeezing my heart a little in the process.

Not knowing this challenge was coming, I coincidentally picked up a vinyl record last week while traveling for the kids’ fall break last week in Portland, Oregon.  In keeping with the “Keep Portland Weird” vibe, we seemed to find hat stores or vinyl record stores on every other corner.  On our last night there, I finally made the family stop in one of the vinyl record stores, determined to find an album that would take me back for a little mini-vacation within my vacation. They humored me.

I knew exactly which one I needed to find because I could see the album cover in my head (or maybe I knew subconsciously which one I could easily find without breaking the bank because no one else would want it).  I flipped through the album covers in the small “Pop” section as my kids marveled at the sight of these round, black plastic discs of music throughout the store.  I quickly found the album I was looking for as if it had been right there waiting for me.  The guy at the register didn’t even flinch as I placed the shiny white Barry Manilow album on the counter.  I paid the full $3.60 for it and am now this record’s proud owner.

Here is my list of top time-transporting music,  along with the moments that flash through my mind when I hear it. Good old Barry in his white disco suit and gold chain tops the list.

  • Any Barry Manilow or old Chicago tune –  I can hear the words of  ‘Copa Cabana’ and  ‘Boogie Woogie Woogie’ and  “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?’ as they swirled about our dark wood-paneled family room as my mom and sister and I listened to them on the turntable of our silver stereo with a hard, clear plastic box top that set upon my grandfather’s antique steamer trunk which was nestled in our groovy brown shag carpet.
  • ‘Amazing Grace’ – Sitting next to my grandmother in church and hearing her beautiful voice as I watched tears well up in her eyes as she sang it with all her heart,  Just writing about it makes my own do the same.
  • ‘Jungle Love’ by Steve Miller Band –  Driving my Dad’s jeep one summer while my car was being repaired and playing this song over and over again in the boombox that I had chain-locked to the passenger seat because the jeep didn’t have a stereo.
  • ‘Mercedes Benz’ by Janis Joplin – Cruising on the interstate with my friend Marcy for twelve hours to Connecticut for the summer in my little red car.  I couldn’t stand Janis Joplin when the trip began but Marcy was determined to make me a fan.   It worked.
  • Any Sinead O’Connor tune – Sitting with my junior year college housemate on our rickety rattan love seat in our little old house on Duncan Street that had an old gas stove and windows painted so many times they hardly opened.
  • ‘Sugar Pie Honey Bunch” by the Four Tops – Riding in my dad’s car long ago with this song roaring, watching the music take him back and hearing him whistle along in exact harmony.  I love hearing him whistle.
  • Johnny Cash and other old country songs- Learning to waterski on my friend Kelly’s boat at the lake.  I can hear the boat radio in the background along with the sound of the idling engine as her dad made yet another roundabout to let me try again, and again, and again to get up on those skis.  He was ever so patient and determined to get me up on those skis. And he did.
  • Aretha Franklin’s ‘Dr. Feelgood’ and anything Harry Connick, especially ‘All of Me’ –  So many moments of that fall during my senior year of college when I met MacGyver.
  • Styx “Too Much Time on My Hands” – I can see my college friend’s face making fun of me for how excited I became every time a Styx song came on the radio.
  • ‘Rosana’ by Kool and the Gang – First boyfriend back in high school, riding in his old Camero.
  • REO Speedwagon – Cruising on my tenspeed bicycle with no hands with my Sony Walkman strapped to the center of the handlebars.  Because I was cool.
  • ‘Jagged Little Pill’ by Alanis Morisette – Working at my most fun ad agency job in an old warehouse with a school bus in the middle which served as my colleague’s office.
  • Michael Jackson and Billy Squier tunes – Walking to Skaggs Alpha Beta grocery store in 7th grade with my friend Lisa with two headsets plugged into that same Sony Walkman.  Because we were both cool.
  • Sheryl Crowe’s ‘Soak up the Sun’ – All the bittersweet memories with my dear friend Courtney who lost her battle with cancer years ago.  It was her theme song that last year and it makes me smile.
  • Black Crowe’s Hard to Handle –  Riding in my friend Mel’s little red Nissan Sentra while we air-drummed and air-guitared this song in traffic one night when she drove me home after a very long day at that ad agency.
  • ‘Like a Virgin’ album by Madonna and Prince’s ‘Little Red Corvette’ – Wearing out the cassette deck in my first car listening to these tunes while driving to and from my high school job selling shoes at the mall.
  • ‘Rock Lobster’ by the B52s, and the entire BeeGee’s ‘Saturday Night Fever’ album – Dancing with my sister as she taught me the dance moves to these songs on that same brown shag carpet on that same shiny stereo with the clear, hard plastic top.

Whew, there you have it, a lengthy smattering of songs and their corresponding flashing moments, many close to my heart.

Clearly music moves me.  Along with white disco suits and gold chains.

What songs move you?

27 thoughts on “Moved by Manilow.

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  4. I so agree! Music definitely transports me. I have connections with so many you listed, but after reading your post, I’m left singing, Can’t Smile Without You. I remember singing that song in the way way back of our family station wagon. :)

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  9. I also entered the Music challenge and I’m visiting other site to see how various bloggers interpreted the assignment. Your post has me smiling and bouncing my head to the beat. By the way, the B-52s are the stars of my own music memory.

  10. I had a lot of the same favorites you did. But I would add to that anything by Carole King, Judy Collins, Linda Ronstadt, and Elton John. One of my first concerts was in 1978 and the t-shirt was $4! Hard to imagine.

  11. It would be a heck of a long list, so here are a few of my alltime favorites.
    Long Cool Woman – The Hollys; Bridge Over Troubled Water – Simon & Garfunkel; Gimme Shelter – The Rolling Stones; LA Woman – The Doors; Centerfield – John Fogerty; Quarter of a Man – David Lindley; Watching the Detectives – Elvis Costello; Ain’t Too Proud to Beg – The Temptations.

  12. Barry Manilow – always a great favorite. It’s interesting how he got his start in the music industry: He wrote the “Pepsi Generation” jingle and it went over so big, that his career flew to the moon.

    Loved all your music group references and what memories they brought to mind. Thanks for a little (long?) stroll “down memory lane.”

  13. I’m picturing you and Mel in that little red Nissan Sentra after that very long day at the ad agency. Man, an ice age ago.

  14. Ha, music is great like that, just like certain smells. Garth Brooks takes me back to my college years when I finally broke down and listened to country (for a girl, of course) and of all things, Weird Al Yankovich reminds me of riding in my car with my brothers and mom singing along to eat it on our way to being left in the car while mom went inside to shop for 45 minutes. Lol.

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