When Keith Richards rips into the “fuzz box” riff from “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” do you see a 17 year old Laurence Fishburne dancing with a transistor radio on the back of a PBR, while Martin Sheen watches “Lance” water ski? That’s the power of music!
How many of us who have seen Reservoir Dogs hear “Stuck In The Middle With You” and instantly think of Michael Madsen dancing with a straight razor? That’s the power of music! Or “Old Time Rock And Roll,” comes on and we see a young Tom Cruise slide across the hall floor in his BVD’s. That, unfortunately, is the power of music!
The song, “Pretty in Pink,” by The Psychedelic Furs was made famous by John Hughes in his movie by the same name, but to me it will always be track-1, side-1 of Talk, Talk, Talk.
Gretchen was way too high-brow to be consorting with the likes of us but she was in love with my friend, Nick. (The names have been changed to shield the guilty and protect the innocent). Gretchen couldn’t stand me; she thought that I was a bad influence on her true love. And I was. But Nick was an absolute dirt-bag without any help from the outside. I think it would be fair to say that she found me to be revolting in the absolute.
And this is where the power of music comes in: Gretchen and I had a moment. A fleeting, memorable, majestic moment that is seared into the mind like a fossil left in the shale. And yesterday, I dug up that fossil!
I was driving with my youngest son in the car when “Pretty in Pink” came over the radio and I was transported to 1987 and sitting in a suburban living room with my friend’s “model” girlfriend, eating macaroni and cheese. Music has that power.
I believe in an attempt to bridge the “I hope you slide under a gas truck and taste your own blood” chasm that was our relationship, Gretchen invited me over for lunch. The fig leaf she used was, “I really like ‘that song’ from ‘that movie’ and Nick said that you’re really into that band.” So over I came, bearing gifts, and under my arm were the aforementioned Talk, Talk, Talk and my favorite Furs album, Mirror Moves.
I introduced Gretchen to The Psychedelic Furs and she introduced me to gourmet macaroni and cheese. Not ordinary mac and cheese but this had crumbs and a crust on it and to this day, I have never had mac and cheese like Gretchen’s. I even tasted it in the car, yesterday, as the song played on the radio. That is the power of music!
The peace accord didn’t last long, she would loathe me again, but we did have that one moment and although nothing about it was sexual, it was intimate. That is the power of music!
I don’t know where Gretchen is right now, I hope she married well and is enjoying life but I do know this: wherever she may be, when she hears The Psychedelic Furs, Gretchen will think of me. Maybe with a grimace, or a sneer or even a dismissive smile, but she’ll be thinking of me! That’s the power of music!
As a married man, there are a few songs that I have to turn off out of deference for my wife. Phil Collin’s “Against All Odds,” belongs to my first love and therefore is chained in a vault deep in the recesses of my mind. One time, my wife got into the car and “caught” me listening to Skid Row’s “I Remember You.” I had to nonchalantly reach down and change it before she noticed that another old girlfriend had pinned down my memory and was dragging me into the past. That song now shares the cell with “Against All Odds.” That’s the power of music.
While we were trying to pick our wedding song, I recommended the greatest love song ever penned, sung or performed by mortal man – “Unchained Melody.” She smirked. I had unknowingly stumbled on what must have been her song with an ex-boyfriend, because I knew that the sneer just couldn’t be about the music. Heck, if it were the song she was sneering at, the wedding would be off. We ended up going with Vince Gill’s, “Whenever You Come Around,” which is like sending back the Porterhouse at Shula’s and just gnawing on a bread stick.
For many years after, when the Righteous Brothers would break into, “Oh, my love, my darling, I’ve hungered for your touch,” I would change the station out of deference for my wife. Then it occurred to me to let it play. As a matter of fact, now I turn it up because it’s a win/win – I love the song and it makes my wife cringe.
I’m not going to let some bygone relationship steal my joy, and the fact that it reminds her of a man that couldn’t keep her because he wasn’t up to the task, makes it even better. Every woman should be reminded from time to time of the mistake that she may have made; it helps to keep them humble. That’s the power of music!
Music can praise God or summon the demons; it can woo, wound, heal, engage and enrage. It is music that brings the boxer out of the tunnel and the bride down the aisle. It is the song that makes you run harder, drive faster, and reach further. The right song can bring you to your knees in tearful remembrance or simply make you smile. A song can take you back in time to that beach on Spring Break or to that car on Blueberry Hill. Music has a mysterious grasp on the soul. I’m not sure, this side of Heaven, that we will fully appreciate it’s blessing or it’s power.
Image: Courtesy of: http://www.flickr.com/photos/epiclectic/4375177900/