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What's your soundtrack?

July 18, 2012
Music is fun. Deep, right? Have you listened to a song or artist for the first time in years and felt like you had gone back in time in the blink of an eye? The memories seem more real than reality itself.

For some of you, that may be hearing an old Bob Dylan tune and instantly feeling like you're back in the '60s. Maybe you turn the dial on the radio and hear The Boss sing of his "Glory Days" and you, too, are back in your own glory days of high school complete with a 30-inch waist and full head of hair. Or perhaps you put a long forgotten mix tape in the cassette player and "Hangin' Tough" by New Kids on the Block starts playing and, well, forget that one.

For me, every time I hear John Mellencamp's "Human Wheels," I think of my college newspaper editor and his girlfriend. Specifically, I remember walking to the parking lot with them one cool autumn evening and telling her that Mellencamp's album of the same name was much better than she gave it credit for in a review she wrote for the newspaper.

It's nothing special, having no more significance than what I had for lunch that day, but it's one of my favorite memories. I guess it's because it was at the beginning of my sophomore year and it was then that I started getting involved and really enjoying college.

Really, when you think about it, music may be the best way for us to tell our life stories. Favorite artists, even the types of music we like, change through the years, but those changes illustrate the changes in our lives.

In the early '80s, I liked Hall and Oates (that's the second time in two weeks they've been mentioned in the paper!), Michael Jackson (who didn't?) and Rick Springfield (hey, I had an older sister, I was impressionable and say what you want, but "Jesse's Girl" still rocks).

By the time I entered middle school, I didn't care a whole lot about music and just listened to whatever Top-40 hit happened to be playing on WDJX.

Then, in high school, I "rediscovered" music. Specifically, I discovered that I not only liked, but really liked Van Halen. However, no matter what my parents probably thought because of the number of times they heard "Right Now" blaring from my boom box (yep, boom box), my tastes were diverse.

A quick flip through my cassette collection shows Bad Company (love the classic rock), Warrant (best of the hair bands; R.I.P. Janie Lane), Janet Jackson ("Black Cat" shreds), Huey Lewis (big band meets 1950s meets 1980s pop) and C+C Music Factory ("Gonna Make You Sweat"; R.I.P. David Cole).

The eclectic mix probably represented a teenager's attempt for self-identity. Or, then again, maybe I just liked really, really different types of music at the time.

Anyway, as I've gotten older and settled down in life, so has my musical taste. Sure, I still enjoy Van Halen, Aerosmith and The Who, but I also find myself listening to Christian artists like Third Day, BarlowGirl and the Newsboys. When I'm on deadline, I like putting in my ear buds and turning on some Norah Jones. Her soulful melodies and comforting voice almost make me forget the pressure of the moment.

There are certain songs that I love to hear because they are associated with good memories. Then, there are others that I cringe when they come on the radio because I remember hearing them when I was going through a rough stretch.

Music is such a deep and personal thing that we cannot help but associate IT with different periods of our lives. It grows with us, and we grow with it. However, like a snapshot in a photo album, it can bring a rush of memories in an instant.

I'd love to hear about the soundtrack of your life. If a song makes you think about a particular time in your life every time you hear it, let me know. If I receive enough, I'll list them in another column. If you'd like, you can remain anonymous. Just drop me a note at cadams@clarionnews.net.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go pop in "Right Now." Now, where did I put that boom box?

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