Prompt: Write about the three most important songs in your life — what do they mean to you?
Twist: Commit to a writing practice.
Music has always been a huge part of my life. Almost every significant memory I possess can be associated with one or more songs.
When I was six years old and my brother was two, my mother left my family and moved away, leaving us alone with my father.
Dad loved country music and I can remember riding around in his truck listening to Alabama, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton, George Strait, and so many more. Dad worked a lot, so we didn’t see him much through the week, but on the weekends we would go for long drives and he and I would sing at the top of our lungs to whatever song came on the radio. One of Dad’s favorite artists and, by default, mine, was Dan Seals. I loved anything he sang, but there is one song that still evokes a flood of emotions in me every time I hear it. The song is called, Everything That Glitters (Is Not Gold) and it is about a father raising his daughter on his own because her mother has left them for greener pastures.
Every time I heard that song growing up, I would be overcome with emotion and it kind of became a game to see if I could get through it without breaking down. I’ve gotten better as I’ve grown older, but some days it still overwhelms me. It will always take me back to my Dad’s old 1/2-ton truck driving down those long-since paved dirt roads.
If you were to ask me what my all-time favorite movie is I would tell you, without hesitation, that it is Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. You know; the one with Kevin Costner? The movie, itself, is grandiose. The action, the tragedy, the romance – it all draws me in, no matter how many times I see it. When Marian runs into Robin’s arms after he defeats The Sheriff of Nottingham, you could swim in the pond my tears have made. But the theme song from the movie, Bryan Adams’ Everything I Do (I Do It For You), brings to mind another memory.
I was in Grade 7 the year Robin Hood came out and was excited to be attending my first Jr. High School dance. I can remember standing self-consciously with my girlfriends, watching the boy I had had a crush on since Elementary, from across the room. After some coaxing (and merciless razzing), I worked up the courage to go ask my crush if he would dance with me during the next slow dance. Much to my amazement, he agreed! However anxiety and nerves got the better of me, and I retreated to the hallway when the song started, to avoid the situation. Yes, I was a 7th Grade chicken.
Standing in the hallway a couple songs later, mortified, my faced still streaked with tears, I watched my crush walk up to me with a heart-melting smile. Butterflies in my stomach, I stood in place and nearly fainted when he held his hand out to me and asked if I would dance with him. Trance-like, I allowed him to take my hand and lead me back into the gymnasium where he pulled me softly into his arms and we started to sway to the music. I can remember registering the song that was playing and the fact that it was from my favorite movie but, honestly, the rest of the moment was very much a blur.
When I got home that night, still floating on Cloud 9, I took a blank cassette and put it into my double cassette player so that I could record Everything I Do from Bryan Adams’ cassette onto one of its own over and over again. I didn’t want to have to rewind it every time I wanted to relive the most magickal moment I had experienced up until then.
I think I asked the boy out, at some point. But he was one of the most popular guys in the school and I was not a part of the elite, so he said no.
I moved away at the end of that year, but returned again in Grade 10. On my first day at the High School I went to my first class (English) and at the end of it, asked my teacher if he could tell me how to get to my next class (Science)? The teacher asked if anyone in the class could help me and a boy raised his hand. When I looked to see who it was, my heart skipped a beat when I realized it was my one-time crush. I have to admit the first strains of Everything I Do started playing in my head at that moment. We still remain friends to this day.
One of the biggest moments in my life happens to also be one of the worst. But it, too, is surrounded by music.
Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia, where I grew up, is known for its apples. Every Spring you can drive around and see trees covered in pink apple blossoms and can smell their sweet aroma permeating the air. Every year The Valley celebrates this blossoming with what is known as Apple Blossom weekend. A fair comes to town, there is a battle-of-the-bands, concerts, a parade, etc. There is even a Royal Court chosen. Being a very small town, the people who live there look forward to this every year and it is a huge event punctuated with camping, drinking, and parties.
In 1998, during Apple Blossom Weekend, I lost two close friends to a horrific car accident. They were cousins and they had been drinking and driving when they went over a cliff. The passenger had just gotten a new Camaro and, though it was his pride and joy, he couldn’t drive because he had hurt his foot. His cousin was driving, instead.
A bunch of us had a party on Friday night and I can remember how sobering it was to wake up to the news on Saturday morning. It was like someone had thrown a dump truck of ice water over us. It couldn’t be real, could it?
I was living with a girlfriend, at the time, and she had dated the passenger for a long time and still had feelings for him. What happened tore her to pieces and she couldn’t stop crying. I remember, at one point, sitting on the floor holding her and rocking her back and forth while Push by Matchbox Twenty played on a CD player in the background on repeat.
I didn’t go to the funeral. I am a super emotional person and I tend to pick up on others’ emotions, too, so things like funerals are more torture than usual for me. Some days I regret not going, but then I look at people I knew back then who are still actively mourning now, almost 17 years later, and I honestly think I made the right decision for me.
I was told they played two songs at the funeral: I’ll Be Missing You by Puff Daddy and Runaway Train by Soul Asylum.
If I’m honest, it was a long time before I could listen to Push, I’ll Be Missing You, or Runaway Train without tearing up and choking on sad memories. But now, when I hear these songs, they make me want to play another one, instead.
The owner of the car was a bit of a daredevil, and he loved to drive. I remember Summer days riding around in his car with another friend. We usually had the music blaring and sang along with all the songs we knew, laughing it up at one joke or another. One particular song, 1,2,3, Train With Me by Playahitty, makes me smile every time I hear it because my friend and I, who were sitting in the backseat, would lean out the windows and “dance” (as much as one can in a fast-moving vehicle with 3/4 of their body hanging out the window) while our driving friend cheered us on. It’s this song I like to think of when I think of my friends who were taken from us far too soon because it brings a smile to my face.
There are so many other songs I could list (and I know listed more than the assignment called for), but I think these ones hold the most significance for me. Or, at least, they do today.
Re: The Twist
Since started this exercise 3 days ago, I have already pledged to myself that I will write for a minimum of 20 minutes per day. I have always loved to write, and this exercise makes me remember how much.