Whether I hear it again on the radio or in my head, there are songs that mark my time. The past becomes the present when the melody is replayed as sure as a clock strikes midnight.
Anything by The Ray Conniff Singers resurrects my parents along with “Melody of Love” which I played for them on the family’s organ.
“Oh How Happy,” Shades of Blue, 1966, was the second 45 record I bought and I wore it out on my Sears Silvertone turntable. “Downtown,” Petula Clark, 1964, would be the first 45 to be worn away by manually placing the needle again and again at the beginning. My first 33 1/3 album (why a 1/3, I still don’t know) would be “The Beach Boys” around 1964.
“Lay Lady Lay,” Bob Dylan was the first record I played on the radio, 1969. The previous announcer just pulled it out and left the studio but it marked over 35 years in radio. Mercy’s “Love Can Make You Happy” was played often during those high school years for a friend and his girlfriend. (He didn’t marry her but it was “Their” song.) The Carpenter’s “Close to You” was first played by me in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, 1970. I loved the song so much, I returned the needle to the beginning and played it again. Months later a friend said he and his girlfriend were at the outdoor theater and waiting for the movie to begin wondered why the radio announcer would play a song twice! James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain” was also Manitowoc’s first hearing because of me, 1970.
Scott McKenzie’s “If You’re Going To San Francisco” was played when I asked if I could meet the radio announcer, 1966. The announcer I would replace years later was greeted one night by us seminarians requesting The Animal’s “We Gotta Get Outta This Place, 1969 and he complied. (We skipped campus and hitchhiked to get a decent burger and stopped at the radio station.)
Gershwin’s “They Can’t Take That Away From You” rang through my head as I lay prostrate in my ordination service, 1980. The Box Tops, “The Letter” is the remembered song while at St. Norbert’s College in DePere, Wisconsin. The four of us high schoolers decided to shoplift the “top 10” 45 records of the week. (Developing brains, what can I say! We could have chosen the “top 30”?) We got all ten, I regret it but that song was among them, 1967.
I hear Janis Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart,”1967 and remember a kind, petite woman who passed away but apparently had a dark side. Lou Rawls, “You’ll Never Find,” 1976 is another woman friend and we’d sing the life of it drowning out Lou. A San Fransisco summer internship turns out to be a big misunderstanding and I’m stuck there but with “Afternoon Delight,” Starlight Vocal Band, 1976 forever in my head.
My pretend radio show ran faithfully for two years on Saturday mornings and Henry Mancini’s “Bachelor In Paradise” was my theme song played at the beginning and the end of the show, 1965-66.
Two Milwaukee radio shows (talk show & rock show) run for over ten years and I think of stopping them both. Leaving for work, The Cornelius Brothers and Sister Rosie’s, “It’s Too Late To Turn Back Now” comes on the radio and I knew I was making the right decision, 1992.
If you’d read this far then I’m impressed because the songs are my markings and there are even more. And I hope to add more. I don’t know who Taylor Swift, Beyonce or Bruno Mars are but that’s for the new folks to clock their memories. I already have mine.
Books available on Amazon by Fr. Joe Jagodensky, SDS include,
“Living Faith’s Mysteries”
and “Spiritual Wonderings and Wanderings.”