Friday, March 29, 2013

My Country Stroll Down Memory Lane

I have told you in a past blog about the first time I ever heard Friends in Low Places by Garth Brooks. What an amazing moment in my life. Such a short, sweet memory that was so intense that I can remember it vividly. Where I was, what I was doing, who I was with, the scenery, everything!

The top 3 country albums (cassette tapes actually)  to impact my memory bank the most are some that I will love forever, even though some of them take me to a dark time in my history.

Time travel with me, if you will, back to 1990 when I was sweet sixteen. I had a wicked crush on a boy from school that drove a Camaro. We had  fun together, a lot of laughs.  He was however, a bit of a heart anyway.
He was  in between bouts with his own girlfriend of hot and heavy turned hot and cold every other day, it seemed. I was the one on the sidelines. But the short times we did have together, I'll never forget! 
There were lots of good tunes on the radio that year and I listened to all of them, but I had one cassette that I played constantly during that tempestuous time. It was Tanya Tucker's album Strong Enough to Bend.  I knew every word to every song from beginning to end. I always played it while I was getting ready for work at Showbiz Pizza Place, now known as Chuck E. Cheese (sadly). I would sit at my lighted  mirror in my basement bedroom of wood paneling and faux wood carpet (yes!) and blare Tanya's  music while curling my hair.
My relationship with this boy would last into our 20's but we were never exclusive, nor were we ever consistent. We would sometimes go years without talking. But when we got together it was like we never left off. Alas it was always over as quickly as it began.
I don't look back sadly at those times. It gave me my first real taste of angst, longing and heartache. Those are good things when  you are young. I'll pass now days, but you get my meaning I hope.
I can't hear Tanya Tucker without thinking back to those times in my life.

Fast forward a few years after highschool. I graduated in 1992 and had been in a relationship with a boy soon after the one I just told you about. It was a rocky road from day one because we were not meant to be together. I know that now, I just didn't know it then.  I hung on, thinking things would get  better. I had no idea that the sooner I broke free, the better my life would get. Which it did but it took me years to do it.
Even more than heartache that I had felt from other boys in my past, this one caused great heartBREAK. Very different. It wasn't a fun, achy, longing type. It was down right brutal on my  heart.
During this very dark time, I also had a lot of fun. I was, afterall, growing up! I drank too much, smoked too much, partied....just entirely too much. And it was a blast. But amidst all of it, I was also hurting deeply. I was so lost and I didn't know how to get myself out of it. I eventually figured it out but in the meantime I dove into music, as I always did.
I had 2 cassette tapes that I listened to non stop during some of those times. One was Tim McGraw's All I want is a Life. The other one was a George Jones greatest hits album with the song He Stopped Loving Her Today.
Unlike the Tanya Tucker songs, when I hear these songs now, they take me back but to a dark time. I don't like the feeling they give me. I'm slowly getting reaquainted with the songs and learning to love them again but it is not as simple as you might believe.
 When I hear the Tanya songs, I get lost in my own mind, a fun place. But these others are taking me a little longer. Even after all these years.
Of course we all know that I am a very happily married woman these days. I have been deeply in love with my husband for almost 13 years now (and counting). Memories are so deeply embedded in my mind though. Some I can just never forget. Some I can even recall certain smells, the day of the week, was it sunny or cloudy. So many details are remembered.
Even more profound than my memories themselves are the songs I connect them to. Songs are POWERFUL!! 
I am thankful for music. All the heartaches have led me to the most amazing places. And the music along the way, well, simply marvelous.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Hello Paradise City....we meet again.

Music and books were the number one influence in my life from the time I was a small girl, to present day. People are becoming more and more inspiring to me but when I was a kid, that was not the case. People regularly disappointed me. But music and books.....NEVER! They were always there for me.

Today finds me thinking about one band. Guns N Roses. My relationship with that band's music is a long one. Starting all the way back in 1987 when I was 13 years old. And just a little reminder....I was not a pleasant 13 year old! (Sorry Mom & Dad)

I remember the first time I ever heard/saw a Guns N Roses video  on MTV back when it was king. Welcome to the Jungle came on. I was hooked the second I heard the music start and Axl stepped off the bus in the video. My eyes and mind were nowhere else, they were simply glued to the tv.
No other band  sounded like them at the time. None.

After that I immediately had to own the cassette tape. But I really didn't need to since the album was being played virtually on repeat on every radio station I listened to. I remember spending the night with my friend Lara one night. Her mom drove us to White Castle, you know, to order like 20 cheeseburgers, and we heard Mr. Brownstone on the radio. Lara and I were just jamming, we didn't care what the song was about. Her Mom then informed us that the song was about heroine. Our 13 year old minds were it's not! No way man, you're crazy. Guess who was right? Not us!

That didn't stop me from being a fan. If anything, it inspired me to learn more about them. Fast forward to Highschool. My freshman year, my best friend in the whole world was named Chad. He was a few years older than me but we lived in the same neighborhood. He picked me up for school every day in his classic Mustang. We did nothing but have fun together. One night we went to a party. I remember this party because I had a crush on one of the boys there. I don't remember who it was now but I remember the feeling I had that night. The party was dimly lit, everyone was drinking from a keg. I had braces on my teeth and my hair was huge! Of course someone was playing the Guns N Roses tape and my heart was racing and anxious over this boy! What a sweet feeling that was.

Next thing you know, there is a concert coming up. Not G N R but rather Ozzy Osbourne. It was now '88 or '89 and we loved us some Ozzy. Chad and I didn't have money to go so we put up a collection in the smoking area at our highschool. (Yes we had a smoking area! So wrong but at the time, so right!) I remember exactly what I was wearing that day. I had on a black Tshirt. The logo and writing was hot purple. It was the cover of the Ozzy Osbourne/Randy Rhodes tribute album (another one of my obsessions at the time) We begged everyone we knew to give us money so we could go to this concert. And they did! We had enough money to go.  So that evening we met up with a bunch of friends at the townhouses where many of the kids from our highschool lived. We all set out to go  have the time of our lives to see OZZY! There was a convoy of cars and Chad, another boy and myself were at the end of the line, I believe. We were riding in his Mustang. What song was on the radio? Paradise City by Guns N Roses. I mean we were jamming so hard. Next thing you know the song is at the very end when it's just going crazy and we get cut off by a semi truck and slam into a guard rail...............The details after that are not so pleasant. But don't worry, we all survived and are still friends to this very day!

After that, I still loved my Guns N Roses. But I could never, ever, ever, ever, EVER listen to Paradise City again. UNTIL................Last Saturday night. Almost 25 years later. Last Saturday my husband and our friends went out to celebrate my 39th birthday. We are all sitting at the table, laughing, listening to music and enjoying our time together. Then what song comes on? Paradise City. At first I tried to escape, as I had done so for years and years. I always succeeded at turning the channel or leaving the room. But this time was different. I couldn't just get up and leave, or turn the channel. My husband looked at me and we all sort of panicked for a hot second. Then something happened. I said I'm ready. I'm ready to hear it. I want to make this song my bitch!!!!!!! And I did! I sang it, I jammed to it and now I love it all over again.

This is just one more reminder to me that if you are able to face the pain of your past, you will be so free. What an amazing feeling! Here's to you Guns N Roses....THANK YOU for the memories!

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