Music, like a certain smell, always transports me to the spot where a song’s melody means the most. Mumford and Sons is playing overhead and instantly I feel like I am standing in Whole Foods in the lovely Kensington neighborhood of London. Dave and I would live there if we could. I feel the autumn warmth, sunshine is peeking through the doorway, where I see a ginormous cornucopia display surrounded by colorful autumn leaves and Whole Foods treats. Davy holds my hand as we stand there trying to figure out what part of the store we should go to first. There are three levels of awesomeness. I am missing my boys something fierce, and decide to distract my longings by venturing in and look for some yummy dark chocolate. That is what this song does for me. It feels like a big, giant hug, a hug filled with so much love I may just explode.
The Beatles’ Blackbird is playing in my mind and as many times as I have looked up the simple lyrics I cannot keep them in my brain. Every night as we put Kyle to sleep, or each time baby Kyle (that is what we called him) took a nap I sang to him and most days it was, The Beatles, “Blackbird.” His birth was a tough one, and in those first few months he was so tender and new. We thought he might break. Each time I sang to him the memory of his crazy, terrible, and long birth eased, I stopped fearing things like those solid five minutes when his heart did not beat. I began to let go of the horror that day was. Instead, I began to breathe, I began to see that our little Kyle would be ok, at least for now.
“Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise
Black bird singing in the dead of night
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see
all your life
you were only waiting for this moment to be free.”
We would play the song often, and those lyrics gave me hope and then Dave and I would sing,
“Kyle bug sleeping in the sweet dark night,
Please sleep and rest your heart tonight.
We love you!
Sweet little Kyle Bug. We love you.”
I know. How sappy. It was and yes, it totally helped.
Music has always been a big part of me, a love given to me by mom that I wanted to pass onto him. I did because eventually as we played Blackbird, baby Kyle began howling along. It was pure delight.
Further back my mind takes me to Yellowstone National Park. Riding along in our Camper, the six of us sat in the back, driving ourselves crazy. My mom made a valiant effort, quizzing us with her name-all-the-presidents and-name-all-of-the-states flash cards. I could name them then. I am sure I cannot name them now. Without the use of electronics we were forced to entertain ourselves! It is crazy we even survived [wink, wink]. We had a few cassette tapes. Roberta Flack’s, “Killing Me Softly;” Simon and Garfunkel’s, “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” and Elton’s John’s, “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.” Wait, and looking back, my parents weren’t so musically lame after all. We listened to those songs over and over again, often fastforwarding to Simon and Garfunkel’s, “Ceceila,” as we belted those words at the top of our lungs:
“Cecilia, you’re breaking my heart,
You’re shaking my confidence daily.
Oh Cecilia, I’m down on my knees,
I’m begging you please to come home.
Come on home.”
We played that Simon and Garfunkel tape so often I think it broke. Yes, the tape wore so thin it literally snapped and broke in half. We prided ourselves at harmonizing to “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” and after we were bored with that we made our up own songs.
Growing up in a true Brady-Bunch-Styled family was no picnic. Out of respect (and because it hurts her feelings every time I do) for my mom I try not to mention my childhood. My parents have since divorced, and in my youngest-child-point-of-view, our family is more Humpty-Dumpty-after-he-fell-off-the-wall then Humpty Dumpty before-he-was-put-back-together-again. Honestly, some days, like this one, it feels like I do not have many good memories of the six of us getting along and enjoying each other. Then I push further, and I find those happy spaces. Because in that rickety old camper somewhere between Yellowstone National Park and the Needles Highway, we, the six kids, came together, united and made up our own lyrics for Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. Those crazy lyrics still make me smile.
“Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.
There is a toad in the road.
It is red.
Because it is dead.”
And thank God our song is part of my soundtrack too.
PS And if you think of it, maybe it is these happy memories that took place on the road that instilled in me my always-and-forever Travel LOVE!
2 thoughts on “The Soundtrack of My Memory”
“Cecelia” holds a special memory for me, too. Being 14-15-16, hanging at the beach with my bff Ashley (don’t even know where she is now), we blasted that song in her Mom’s red Dodge Challenger as we drove around (Illegally! Her mom let me drive before I had a real license!)looking for cute boys to talk to. We decided we’d tell people we were fraternal twins named Celeste and Cecelia, and I got to be Cecelia because I was older. There was that one night we met two of the cutest boys EVER – blonde surfer boys with those awesome late 80’s bowl haircuts – and we hung out at the arcade with them until it was WAY LATE and I looked at her, after calling her Celeste all night, and screamed “Oh shit, ASHLEY, it’s past curfew!!” Cute blonde surfer dudes were like “we thought your name was Celeste?” So we just ran away, jumped in the Challenger and sped off. We had to avoid the cute blonde boys for the rest of the week! Womp womp! Shakin’ my confidence daily, indeed!
Michelle, your tales of your teenage escapades with Celeste & Cecelia, I mean, ASHLEY (wink wink). I love that you get how music takes us places. What’s Careless Whispers takes me to a similar space. Summertime hanging with my besties, Marianne and Melanie singing our lungs out as we take the long bus ride to Church Girls Camp. It was the summer we all wanted to look like Madonna and I fear ever posting a picture from that time. Sadly or hilariously another girl from camp did. Go Aqua Net, O ring bracelets and headbands! Michelle, you rock! I think we would have had a blast as crazy teens (& now, btw). 🙂