I love music. I don’t think I’m unique in this regard. But I will seize upon a song and listen to it over and over, memorizing the lyrics and singing it myself. As a result, certain songs remind me strongly of what I was going through in my life when I was listening to them.
Listening to “Sledgehammer” by Peter Gabriel evokes sitting in high school, wishing desperately that I could kick the habit and shed my skin.
Listening to “The Boys of Summer” and other songs from Building the Perfect Beast evokes driving to and attending Macon Community College.
Listening to “Beyond the Silver Rainbow” by Genesis evokes walking the streets of Austin, looking for a job.
Listening to “The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota” by Weird Al Yankovic evokes working at Origin, testing the PlayStation and Saturn versions of Crusader: No Remorse.
Listening to Body Count evokes that time I lived in a crack house. (I don’t willingly listen to Body Count any more.)
Yesterday, while I was shopping, “The Game of Love” by Wayne Fontana & the Mindbenders came on the overhead speakers and I was instantly transported.
Back when I was in high school, I didn’t have a computer. This was like not having oxygen. I played and programmed the computers at school and we had a family computer (a Tandy 1000, actually a pretty good machine), but I had no machine of my own and my time on the Tandy was always extremely limited.
But I had (and still have) a friend named Dennis Borders. He was one of a clique of young men at our high school that all had Commodore 64s. They would get together to play and trade games (ie, pirate them). They were constantly bringing game materials to school, which I would devour ravenously. I read the manual for Ultima III months before I actually got to play the game; the world the manual described enraptured me and it pained me that I couldn’t visit it right away.
And every once in a while, every 4-5 months or so, after months of me pleading and begging, my mother would let me stay overnight at Dennis’ house.
Forty-eight hours of pure, unadulterated computer gaming. It was heaven. I refused to sleep. We played Ultima III, Ultima IV, Ghostbusters, Gauntlet, Ghosts ‘n Goblins, Hardball, Impossible Mission, Moebius, Winter Games, Summer Games, Questron, Questron II, Legacy of the Ancients, Uridium. We would also play some paper-and-pencil Dungeons & Dragons, which was wonderfully illicit, because my mother hates role-playing games; she thinks they are Satanic.
(Yes, that’s right, the two things I loved most in high school – RPGs and computers – my mother despised. We didn’t get along very well.)
In the late 80’s, a movie called Good Morning Vietnam came out. It was a good movie, but the real star was the soundtrack. Dennis made a mix tape for my sister (who he was sweet on at the time) that had “Game of Love” on it, and we listened to it like crazy.
So for a moment, I was transported back to Dennis’ house. For a moment, I was at his house, joystick in hand, staring at his TV, finally, finally happy.
It was pretty awesome.