For some reason, this is the summer of nostalgia. I’ll be attending concerts of artists I’ve always wanted to see when I was younger. Tomorrow night, I’ll be seeing Sting and Peter Gabriel at the Hollywood Bowl. Peter Gabriel is an artist I’ve always wanted to see (sorry, Sting). I still cry on cue when I hear the song, “In Your Eyes.”
It reminds me of the time I spent in Paris after high school graduation. I was homesick and listened to that song over and over until I felt better. It also reminds me of a boyfriend in college. We had a tumultuous relationship that ended horribly and desperately. Yet, I still think fondly of him every time I hear that song.
A couple years ago, I finally saw the film “Say Anything” which of course had that famous scene with John Cusack holding up the ghetto blaster (Remember ghetto blasters? Maybe it’s boombox but we said ghetto blasters.). He stands outside Ione Skye’s window, blasting that song and it became one of the most romantic scenes in film for Gen X-ers.
We saw it at one of those outdoor movies, over at Exposition Park, and Ione Skye showed up with about a dozen “Lloyds” who all raised their ghetto blasters above their heads to honor her and the film. It was perfect. So now I think of that moment when I hear “In Your Eyes” as well.
Guns & Roses have reunited and are on tour and I’ll be seeing them next month. I loved Axl Rose and listened to my “Appetite for Destruction” tape cassette (yes, I had the tape cassette) over and over. “November Rain” from “Use Your Illusion I” reminds me of the summer I spent in Washington, D.C. interning at a TV station.
It was a wild crazy time as I’d never lived in a different state so far away from home before. I played that song over and over so when I hear it I think of 4th of July picnicking on the Mall, riding bikes over cobblestones through Alexandria, VA with my roommate, and our endless happy hours with too many Rolling Rocks in trendy Adams Morgan.
It got me thinking how music, especially certain songs, have such power. I can even recall the smells and sounds around me. It’s such a visceral experience. Does anything else do this so intensely? I guess photographs would do that, but it’s such a literal experience. You see the photo, you recall the moment it was taken and who you were with and where you were. Perhaps movies do, and yes, there are films I absolutely love, but it doesn’t transport me like music does.
I then thought of books that I love. When I recall my favorite books, like TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD or A LITTLE PRINCESS, I can’t remember where I was when I first read it or who even recommended it to me. (I guess my mom gave me A LITTLE PRINCESS). The book doesn’t bring back any memories or sensations of my past, not like music. I may recall who told me about an author or where I first saw the book or where I purchased it, but it’s not that same overwhelming emotion I get when I hear a certain song.
There is something else I feel when it comes to my favorite books. I get this fierce protectiveness over it, like it’s the best book ever and nobody will tell me otherwise. Thus, everyone else needs to read and love this book. “You HAVE to read this book!” Maybe it’s the bookseller in me. I get excited, and probably a little too intense, talking about a book I love. I talk about the characters like I know them personally, because, come on, I do.
It’s interesting to me how both types of art, music and books, elicit such strong emotions and reactions yet in completely different ways, at least with me. Anyone else feel this way with certain songs? Books? Other art forms?
Sarah M. Chen juggles several jobs including indie bookseller, transcriber, and insurance adjuster. Her crime fiction short stories have been accepted for publication online and in various anthologies, including All Due Respect, Plan B, Shotgun Honey, Crime Factory, Out of the Gutter, Betty Fedora, and, Dead Guns Press. Cleaning Up Finn is her first book available now with All Due Respect Books. www.sarahmchen.com