When we graduated High School my best friend and I hit a stretch of nostalgia. We had this need to try to preserve or at least commemorate the relationships we had, or perhaps just document who we had been during those years of our lives. It was the time before email. Before digital photography. It was before easy access to video cameras that didn't require a shoulder to, well, shoulder some of the weight. It was before you could, gasp, burn your own CDs. Before scrapbooking skyrocketed to all it's glory. We were just "that" far north of the 80s.
The process of creating our shared memento was somewhat laborious but not difficult. We made tapes. Between our own collections and what we could gather at the library - a good decade before iTunes - we would spend hours in front of our parent's stereos carefully starting and stopping the source and destination tapes until we had a mix that captured the desired effect.
It's been years since I've listened to the results. I came across one during a garage sale purge last year - and as much as I wanted to take the walk down memory lane my inability to locate an actual tape player got in the way of my desire.
This morning, as usual, I woke up way too early as my husband moved around the room readying himself for work. This morning, not like usual, I couldn't drift back off to even an uneasy sleep. Instead I pulled a pillow over my head, reached a hand into the nightstand and pulled out my little Shuffle. Plugged neatly into a world of random music, I was at least able to wander around aimlessly in my own mind.
As the garage door closed behind his car leaving and I lay wide awake staring at the ceiling, it was clear that I had no hope of doing anything more than sitting in the dark listening to music that seemed like a good idea to preserve on this device. I crept down the dark hall way and flipped the computer on. The player moved from a ballad by Rascal Flatts to a heavy drum beat and loud rocking vocals of Bon Jovi from a time when big hair was best way to identify a rocker.
I waited for the PC to warm up and in the dark haven of my home, I danced around like it was the prom all over again. The music slid seamlessly to Jerry Lee Lewis and so did I. The pre-coffee blitz of energy left me happy to find my leather chair waiting for me. I slipped in and began typing as the music transitioned into a little Billy Joel and from there into Norah Jones.
Her music oozed over my ear drums like caramel dripping from a spoon dipped into in a sundae. It made me wonder what someone who came across my collection of songs on this MP3 player would surmise about me simply based on the eclectic collection it contained.
Last year someone sent me one of those "get to know you forwards" that asked one simple question "What's on your iPod play list?" It seemed frivolous at the time and, since most of my listening time is spent "Oh yeah! I remember this song. Hmm, didn't realize I had put it on" it also seemed nearly impossible. Now, though, I think I see the wisdom behind the question.
Music is expression. The music that calls you can be a window to who you are - what moves you, what calls to you and what sets your feet dancing and your voice singing (off key or clear as it may be). It's not that the lyrics speak for me, but they do speak something about me.
I'll leave it up to you to decide what it says. I've got some old Nelson song to bop around to now and perhaps after that a little Nickelback.