Has a song ever powerfully restored a lost memory for you?
One has for me. In college, I was collecting Paul McCartney on vinyl – everything he recorded after he left the Beatles. It was the mid 1980s; everybody was selling their records to buy CDs and discarded albums could be had for a buck or two a pop. One day a record-collecting buddy took me to a little store that sold the singles that had come out of juke boxes. The store was full of boxes of used-up 45-RPM records, thousands and thousands of the things for a quarter each. I bought at least a dozen McCartney singles that day. I grew up during a time when it was impossible to avoid hearing McCartney songs on the radio, so I was very surprised that I didn’t recognize one of the singles: “Another Day.”
When we got back to our dorm, I played “Another Day” first. And suddenly I was three years old, eating my breakfast cereal at the kitchen table. This song was playing on the radio. It was brand new then, and I remember having looked forward to hearing it, and being happy when it played. I didn’t know who Paul McCartney was then, but I was clearly already a fan. The radio sat atop the refrigerator; I could see its white plastic top and round chrome dial. The refrigerator was white and square-shouldered and slathered with chrome. It stood on the brown tile floor right next to the kitchen table, with its steel legs and brown laminate top. Mom would have been behind me at the counter making a lunch to send with my father to work. We still lived in the tiny house on Rabbit Hill then. Those were happy days. I became dizzy as the forgotten memory flooded my mind. I was so struck that I’m sure my mouth hung open.
Of course I remembered the song, I just hadn’t heard it in years. I listened to “Another Day” over and over again that afternoon so I could linger in the kitchen on Rabbit Hill.
And then there was the time Paul McCartney saved my life. He has no idea, of course. Read that story.