Living Out Loud

Musical Memories


So why do I connect with music at such a physical, emotional and spiritual level? Hell, I don’t know why. But I know that I do. Music brings back moods, smells and feelings. Some songs give me a rush. Others make me all sappy and sentimental. And others make me want to help start the revolution. Here are eight of my musical memories. Feel free to add yours.

  1. I was in kindergarten when the Beatles released Let It Be. My Mom put it on the record player and let it play over and over and over. I got the “Get Back” imprint at an early age.
    2. One of my best friends in high school went nuts when Bruce Springsteen released The River. I’d see him in the halls singing Hungry Heart to himself. He was a lot cooler than me and I wanted some of that coolness. I joined the Columbia record club and The River was the first record I ordered. I still listen to it.
    3. My wife played me the CD, God Shuffled His Feet, on our first date. A week later we went to our first concert together – to see the Crash Test Dummies, only we called them “The Crushed Testonies” because a friend of ours thought that really was their name.
    4. In 1980 When I needed some energy or wanted to get fired up before a night out, I’d play Back in Black. I still do the same thing in 2024.  I have vague memories of adults worrying about us all becoming Satan worshippers from listening to AC/DC.
    5. I didn’t get into social justice and antiwar politics until I was in my late 30’s. I started exploring political music. That trail inevitably led to Phil Ochs. It was the first CD I listened to in the first CD player I ever had in a car. I just sat in my driveway listening being alternatively amused and angry at the stuff that was fucked up in 1965, because a lot of it is still fucked up today. Love Me, I’m a Liberal is one of the most profound songs ever offered.
    6. I watched this guitar player lead a blind but confident blind man, also a guitar picker, to a seat on a stage. Then I sat there and watched Doc Watson blow my mind with what he could do. At the end of the show, we all stood up and sang The old Carter family song, Keep on the Sunny Side.
    7. For a lot of my life, I’d stand up and place my hand over my heart when I was at an event and they played the Star Spangled Banner. I don’t do that any more. I just feel sad when I hear that song.
    8. I caught The Last Waltz, The Band’s final concert on some anonymous cable channel one evening. I went to the store and bought the CD the next day. I’ve listened to it more than any recording I own. As a matter of fact, I’m listening to it right this red-hot minute. In a lot of ways it sparked a musical revival in my soul. It’s a debt that I can’t repay