This blog post was published on August 19, 2013. It was brought to mind by a memory of driving in my car with my kids and, Katey, the eight-year-old neighbour girl I would occasionally look after. A love song was playing on the radio. “Why are there so many songs about love?” Katey asked me. “Because that’s what grownups think about,” I replied. Then, “What do you think about, Katey?” “Oh,” she said. “Pets. And snacks.” I feel like I’ve come full circle. Back then, I really did think a lot about love, but in my sixties I find that I, too, think mostly about pets. And snacks.
Lately, random things that happened decades ago pop into my head for no good reason and I think, “Where have you been hiding out all these years? Because I had no idea you were even there. ”Maybe my brain is like an old potato gone soft starting to sprout … or an apartment where sheer population pressure has forced normally photophobic cockroaches to come out of the woodwork, quite literally, and range about the walls in broad daylight.
What’s increasingly clear to me is that we forget nothing. We just toss it onto the burgeoning rubbish heap of our mind – mine is approximately the size of the Deonar dumping ground in Mumbai about now. Then, every once in a while, a breeze riffles through the detritus and voila!
Buried along with all the rest of the garbage are the lyrics of hundreds of songs. I don’t listen to music much anymore. I’m not sure why. Perhaps because my life has ceased to be, alternatively, a moving drama or a romantic comedy and become, instead, a documentary and, as such, no longer needs a soundtrack. But still, all those lyrics! Amazing!
I am reminded of this when, every once in a while, I join my husband in a sing-along to his ukulele stylings . . . and, magically, I know all the words! Most of the songs that date back to my teenage years induce in me a kind of pleasant, if somewhat grinding nostalgia, but some give me cause me to get up on my hind legs.
For example, Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s Twenty-Four Hours From Tulsa, as performed by Gene Pitney.
Dearest darlin’ I had to write to say that I won’t be home anymore
’cause something happened to me while I was drivin’ home
And I’m not the same anymore
I remember thinking that this was SUCH a tragic tale. After all, the poor guy was, “only twenty four hours from Tulsa,” when he, not to put too fine a point on it, cheated on his “dearest darlin’.“ If only he could have waited, the teenage me lamented! After all, it was only twenty four hours! But, alas, he could not. His new love proved irresistible, not that there seemed to have been a whole lot of resisting going on. Au contraire! “She took me to the cafe, I asked her if she would stay, she said ‘OK’.” No need to bring out the violins; mine were out and tuning up. Poor, poor Gene Pitney! He “gone and ruint” his life, as Ma Perkins would have put it. But he was in love! It was romantic!
So thought the sixteen-year old me.
The sixty-one year old me thinks this: “Dude! It was twenty-four hours! You couldn’t wait twenty-four hours? What does that say about your impulse control?
“I hate to do this to you. But I love somebody new. What can I do?”
Take responsibility for your fuck-ups, that’s what! As for your new “love,” the one that you told you would die, “before I would let her out of my arms,” I give her three months tops before either she sees the light or you pull this “what can I do?” shit all over again. And your “dearest darlin’”, the one you couldn’t wait twenty four hours for? She’s well rid of your sorry ass. And what is that you say? “And I can never, never, never—go home again.” Boo hoo! Damn straight you can’t! Because she’s getting the house!
I guess this might why I don’t listen to music anymore