Tuesday, April 22, 2008

calandria: the soundtrack

A friend and I were chatting the other day about how some songs are so incredibly evocative. You hear it, and your suddenly see, smell, taste, feel what you did when you used to listen to that particular song. Here's my list:

1. "Baroque and Blue" from "Bolling Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano Trio," 1976. I don't know what year my mom bought this album, but I don't remember not hearing it. It always seemed to be playing. And I clearly remember asking, "Mom, why are the flute and piano in bed together? And why is the flute blowing smoke rings? That is so silly! Hahahaha! I don't get it, Mom. Why are they in bed together? Mom, did you know that a lady down at the barn can blow smoke rings? But, how come they are in that bed? Are they tired?"

2. "Boy from New York City," "The Best of Manhattan Transfer," 1981. I think Mom has some incriminating video of me actually lip syncing to this one when I was about eleven. Again, I don't remember there being a year of my life that I didn't listen to and sing along with this incredibly awesome record. Other favorites that I still occasionally belt out, "Operator," "Java Jive," and "A Nightingale Sang in Berkley Square."

3. "New York, New York," Nina Hagen's "Fearless," 1984. Auntie Lee, being eight years older than me as well as a person of ultimate hipness, was a major musical influence in my pre-adolescent years. That's why I knew all the lyrics on"Fearless," including "My Sensation" which I now see has some very inappropriate lyrics for a ten-year old. (Hello, Auntie? What were you thinkin'? :-)) Other Lee-inspired favorites were "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)" and "Don't You (Forget About Me)," both technically before my time.

4. In fifth grade I bought my first single, Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger." Our record player didn't have a little raised circle in the middle so the single wouldn't fit right. Though a weird, warpy version of the song resulted, I played it again and again anyway.

5. Billy Idol's "Mony Mony," 1987. I started going to the teen dances held in the town hall of our little central Maine burg the year before I started high school, 1988. Teen dances were the ultimate because the Senior boys went. Oh my gosh, the Senior boys, Squeeeeeeee! Once I overheard the following conversation between two twerpy hicks who were observing the dance floor as if they were masters of all they surveyed: "See that one?" (They meant me.) "Her?" "Yeah, the one dancing a lot. Think she's hot?" "She's ok, but she wears too much makeup." Too much makeup? No such thing in 1988. They were right that I danced a lot. I loved to dance, but my moves were not of the hippest. I wasn't in Elaine of Seinfeld territory, but headed that way. Whenever I hear "Mony Mony," I'm back in Shiretown, smelling the smoke machine, watching the video projected on the screen, hearing the boys chant that obscene whatever it was between Billy Idol's lyrics, doing my dance. Other songs (among many) evocative of Teen Dance, Maine: "Sweet Child of Mine," Guns 'n' Roses; "Simply Irresistible," Robert Palmer; and "Girlfriend," Pebbles. 1988 was an incredible year for music, no?

6. "More Than a Feeling," Boston. This album came out in '76 when I was two, but classic 70s rock from "Top of the Mountain. 105. T.O.Ssssss..." was what all cool kids listened to in my town. This was my favorite song for driving my red Nissan Sentra home after school, windows down, screaming at the top of my lungs, doing about 85. I insisted on playing 105 TOS for the cows (even though the other milkers always grumped that cows preferred country western) during my milk shift. Other awesome driving/milking cows songs from back in the day: "Fat Bottom Girls," Queen; "Black Water,"Doobie Brothers; and "Gimme Three Steps," Lynyrd Skynyrd.

7. "Lambada," 1990. The summer I went to Ecuador as an exchange student, I heard this song everywhere. On the street, at home, at dances, at restaurants, etc. The girls at La Inmaculada, the Catholic girls' school we went to, played it during recess and danced together. I remember so vividly looking down from the second floor to the courtyard below to see two pairs of little girls, about 6 or 7 years old at the most, dancing the Lambada like no body's business. I don't know who sang this particular version, but in the video, which I loved, a short, black Brazilian boy dances with a tall, blond girl. I can't find anything about it on the net. My search only turns up a cheesy movie that came out that year.

8. "Otro dia mas sin verte," Jon Secada. In 1992 I started my Freshman year at Brigham Young University. I discovered that there were Latin dances held at the Women's Center in Provo every Friday night about a half-hour walk from my dorm. I cajoled various roommates into going with me almost every Friday. I turned down potentially-boring dates to go. Latin dances made the teen dances seem hopelessly dull. I didn't know Spanish very well at that time so I don't remember the other songs I salsa-d, merengue-d, and cumbia-d to every week.

9. "No One Else On Earth," Wynona Judd, 1992. Sung by my roommates and me at Budge Hall ad nauseum Freshman year. We even choreographed it. Another song we couldn't leave alone was "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" by En Vogue.

10. "Fruta Fresca," Carlos Vives 1999. This is my favorite of the many songs Georgie, Lidia, and I used to dance to together. We started this tradition when Lidia was a fussy-in-the-afternoon newborn. Putting on some music and dancing every day around 4 or 5 pm used to make us all so happy. I don't know why we stopped this wonderful tradition! Some other family dance favorites: "Bidi Bidi Bum Bum" and "Technocumbia" by Selena, "Estoy Aqui" by Shakria (from Pies Descalzos, back when Shakira wasn't so commercial), and "La Chula," by Mana.

Can you think of ten songs that take you there?


Anonymous said...

That was fun to read. I had a good time writing about it on my blog too.

Mama Ava said...

1. Queen--Bohemian Rhapsody
2. Supertramp--Take the Long Way Home
3. Eric Clapton--Cocaine
4. 3 Times a Lady--Commodores
5. Anything by the Eagles
6. Journey--Don't Stop Believin'
7. Springsteen--Born in the USA
8. Styx--Come Sail Away
9. REO Speedwagon--Keep on Loving You
10. Night Ranger--Sister Christian

Wow--that was a blast from the past. I'm definitely not as well rounded as you, Calandria, although Cameron has several of these (plus Simon and Garfunkel, Elvis, and Barry Manilow) on his iPod. Just so long as he doesn't admit to the Barry Manilow part in public!

Gabriela said...

totally laughing about the "teen dances" and the senior boys. Too funny-all of those songs I can remember and they bring back similar memories!

I had no idea BYU had latin dances-and I'm sure they made the teen dances seem boring-most things that Latins do make what we do seem boring. :)

Michelle said...

Love it! What a great and diverse list.

Mony Mony was a big favorite at our stake dances too.

And Eye of the Tiger! How could I forget that one? My sisters and cousins and I choreographed a dance to this one--as the group "Caffeine Free Cokes"--and forced all of our family to watch it.

I love your list Mama Ava. All those great 80's songs...

Calandria said...

those are some great songs, mama ava!

michelle, I love the name of your dance troupe. ;-)

Auntie Lee said...

I now have that Nina Hagen album in German if you want to learn it?

hee hee