I Know It By Heart

Last Kiss by Wednesday. A song about a boy and a girl on a date. They get into a car accident and the girl dies in the boy’s arms. I was about nine years old when I taped it from the radio–and played it over and over and over.

“Hey, watch this,” I told my mom one day. The song began to play and I burst into tears. “Isn’t that neat?” I was impressed that a song could make me cry.

Soon I didn’t have to play the song, just thinking about it made me sob.  I worried when I couldn’t get it out of my head (yes, it became a nasty earworm) because I was crying all the time.

I remember sobbing to my grandma, “I can’t stop thinking about it. And when I think about it, I can’t stop crying. What if it never goes away?” I was haunted by that awful fate. My grandma just stared at me, trying to think of something to say. She had no clue what I was talking about.

Eventually the song faded from my mind, until Pearl Jam covered it in the late nineties. Had it always been that corny?

Memories, music and emotions intertwining throughout our lives. One small snippet of a tune can trigger a torrent of memories. I can’t remember my cell phone number, but I can remember song verses from thirty years ago and how I felt or where I was when I heard them.

I still know the chorus (in Spanish) to the Clash’s Should I Stay or Should I Go. A friend and I went to watch our favorite band at a bar. They covered Should I Stay or Should I Go (part of the chorus is sung in Spanish) and we wanted to know the words in Spanish. Before the band came out, my friend went on stage and swiped the  strategically place cards with the Spanish lyrics. They didn’t sing the chorus in Spanish that night but I still know it by heart.

Sea of Love by the Honeydrippers–Our first dance as a married couple. Then there was our honeymoon. The lead singer of the Platters performed. Although he had aged his voice was still awesome. We bought Smoke Gets in Your Eyes when we returned home.

Our first house was in upstate New York and I was so homesick for Michigan. I was going to school full-time and working. My husband worked third shift and we never saw each other.  I was up very late one night listening to Pachelbel’s Canon in D and looking out the window at the giant fir trees in our backyard. The first snow of the season began to fall, large downy flakes, shimmering in the glow of the street lights. Everything silent, still and sleeping, except for the swirling snow and the serene music. For that moment, such peace.

We may be sick of it, but it's still beautiful.

There are so many more memories and songs they could fill a book. What are some of your musical memories? If you want to share the song along with a memory, paste a link  with your comment.


4 comments on “I Know It By Heart

  1. Baker Street by Geryy Rafferty. He died in January this year but I still rmember the hanting sax swelling up from the middle of the song and the way it washed over me. I was in college then and had discovered the pleasure of dancing. It always reminds me of that time and the fresh- faced friendships I enjoyed.


  2. Playing air drums to D’Yer Mak”er while driving around Warren in a mustard-yellow Dodge Duster


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