Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I found this post buried away in a folder on my laptop.  It's from two years ago but it still mostly true.

                A few weeks ago I was in the grocery store with my two year old son. The grocery store wasn’t very crowded and, as always was playing music.  While we were in the pasta aisle, the song Hey Jealousy by the Gin Blossoms came on.  Naturally, as I do anytime I heard a song I know the words to, I began to sing.
                Tomorrow we will drive around this town
                And let the cops chase us around            
                The past is gone but something might be found
                Hey Jealousy!

                My son quickly said “No sing, Daddy,” so I stopped.  But the song brought back a couple of memories.   The first memories go back to when that song first came out my senior year of high school.  It was all over the radio, I had just got my first guitar and my brother showed me the few chords I needed to know.  Soon I was strumming along to the CD on repeat in my six disc changer, and putting the song on every mix tape I made for my friends.  This lead to teaching them how to play it as well so our band, The Iron Potatoes, would have at least one real song in our repertoire.
                The song took on deeper meaning for me as its popularity waned, and I can’t but think about a high school love triangle between myself and my close friend Eric and a girl whose name rhymed with Purell.  The short story is that I was the side of the triangle that ended up alone.  The long story is that every band I have ever been in has played that song at some point and it always brings back those memories of high school, strumming the D and E and F minor chords on my acoustic guitar while sitting on the front porch at night.  It was the good kind of memory, the one you get lost in a little bit and forget where you are for a moment.
                The second thought quickly brought fear and panic.  Grocery stores were not bastions of new and hip music and yet here I was singing along.  This brought me back to my childhood.  I was the youngest of three and home alone with my mom while my brother and sister were of school age.  I spend a lot of time running errands with my mom.  The grocery store was my favorite, whether it was Butera or Kohl’s (both long gone from my hometown).  Back then grocery stores played music as well and to me it sounded old, ancient.  Even after I turned sixteen and started driving and volunteered to go to the grocery store (or more likely when there late at night to buy toilet paper to TP my friend’s houses) the music played at the grocery stores seemed ancient.
                As I’ve aged, I use this sort of time calculation to gauge how old things are.  For example, in 1984 when I was 9 years old and the Chicago Cubs made the postseason for the first time since 1945, my mom often mentioned the 1969 Cubs.  In 1984, the 1969 Cubs were fifteen years in the past but to me seemed ancient history.  So, add fifteen to 1984, and thus to someone who was nine years old in 1999, the 1984 Cubs would seem ancient.  This rule applies the same way backwards.
                Hey Jealousy came out in 1992.  Its 2010 today, so that song is 18 years old.  Take 18 years off of 1992, which brings us to 1974, ancient history, before I was born. 
                What it comes down to is that both memories make me feel older.  A lot older.  It makes my stomach nervous older.
                What it proves is how music is tied so much to memories of what was going on at the time.  The good news is that now when I heard Hey Jealousy, whether on the classic rock station or over the grocery store speakers, I now think of the time my son told me to stop singing it.

No comments: