Wednesday, March 8, 2017

SOLSC #8 - Musical Memories

For the fourth year, I am participating in the SOLSC and guiding students from my classroom and my school on the same writing journey. Here is the link to our school blog and the 15-20 students who are participating in the Classroom Challenge.

Music Memories - 

I'm not particularly musical, at least artistically, but songs have the ability to evoke emotions and memories for me. It's surprising to me how many things I remember, only because I hear a song that is linked to that event or the people associated with it. 

Growing up, I had almost no control over the music we listened to in the car with my parents. My mom preferred silence so we could talk and my dad had his own music or NPR. It was quite the amazing moment when my brother and I discovered, on our first joint radio, that there were radio stations beyond KADX JAZZ and KCFR (Public Radio). But my dad also had a million mix tapes that he had made and his college roommate opened a record store so he was always relatively in the know about good music. Santana and Jimmy Buffett were popular artists we sang along to in the truck as we headed up skiing. I especially remember my dad, younger brother and I belting out, Just the "Three" of Us, along with Grover Washington, while smiling at our clever change of the lyric.

Van Morrison has played a prominent role in several transitions in my life. Into the Mystic was my high school graduating class song, which for 1993 was a surprising but appropriate choice. Moondance is the song my wife and chose for the first dance at our wedding. Our first date (that wasn't actually a date) was a moonlight walk through the streets of Grinnell, Iowa while we were in college there. When I was leaving my first teaching job in Olathe, Colorado, the lyrics and music Steal My Heart Away  brought easy tears to my eyes then and now and seemed appropriate for the moment. I loved the students, colleagues, and friends I made in my nine years there and it was time to move on. It was one of the hardest decisions I ever made. I don't regret it, but I could have been very happy staying there.

Many songs bring me back to college, especially my first year when my memories are sharp, fresh and unblurred by the subsequent years. I was introduced to new people, passionate about their music and I did not always have control of what was playing around me or even in my dorm room. Plus, the student lounge on my floor had cable and MTV was often on and I spent many an hour watching Mother by Danzig and Dreams by The Cranberries among other early 1990s hits. 

Wow, as I have gotten going, I could add dozens more songs and memories. I have not even touched on my early days driving with friends from high school, the songs we danced to in college, music shared with my wife, or my attempts to stay current on popular music by blasting CDs made by my students on extended trips the past ten years. And of course, my daughter, who is six, has a heavy influence on the music I listen to these days and I'm sure there are neural pathways being currently formed that will affect my memories the rest of my life. I guess I'll save all those for another slice this year or in the future.


  1. Loved your post, Max. I have one drafted on the same topic, but I can't seem to get it off the ground. I especially appreciated your opening line - "I'm not particularly musical, at least artistically, but songs have the ability to evoke emotions and memories for me." What's interesting for me and my husband is that our son is a musician. Along with drums, he plays the upright bass, bass guitar and piano. There's nothing better than hearing your son and his band play Clapton's Crossroads! Finally - congratulations on your role as Lead Learner in your classroom. You are the reason your students are rising to the challenge. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Love your post, and wonder how many of us could write such a post and "dance" down memory lane to all the songs in our lives. I guess my most nostalgic ones come from college, and I'm old enough to have memorized almost all the Elvis songs in high school much to the dismay of the older relatives. I liked hearing your memories Max!

  3. This always happens to me. I am in the process of assembling an "overnight song" collection for the spring trip. I love your post and when I'm not in class/dragging down the wifi I will be sure to check out these songs. Great job!

  4. Great post idea. For me, it's funny the ways that songs are linked to specific memories but also specific places. Just hearing lyrics take me right back to that moment and that location. Definitely a slice idea worth stealing!