Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Soundtrack to My Youth

"I think George Michael may have died..."

I was sitting at the dining room table at Mom's, having just finished Christmas supper, when I received the text.  The year two thousand and sixteen, already cursed with so much darkness and death, had claimed yet another.

I suppose you never know how news like that will hit you until it does.  But amidst all the usual Christmas gaiety - the excitement of the nephews and niece, the adults talking, some Christmas movie on the television -- it took everything within me to keep from weeping openly.

I walked down the hall for a moment to gather myself.  When I returned, I told my sister the news.  She looked shocked for a second, then sang a couple of lines of "Faith" and moved on.  She didn't get it.  She was a bit too young then.

"Then" being somewhere in the vicinity of 1988.

Faith.  Father Figure.  Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go.  One More Try.  Careless Whisper.  That music was the soundtrack to my youth.

For me, it represents those sweet spot days of thirteen to nineteen.  First cars and awkward first kisses.  Bonfires and pep rallies and hanging out at the mall.  Falling in love and first broken hearts.  When the real world had mostly yet to begin to erode the innocence.

I remember being on a field trip.  We were going to Helen Keller's birthplace, I think.  On the bus, I had strategically positioned myself on the seat in front of Annalisa Gray, on whom I had a little crush.  She was listening to the "Faith" album on her Walkman, which made her even more appealing.  

Though I had both the "Make It Big" and "Music From the Edge of Heaven" cassettes from the Wham! days, I had not yet procured my own copy of George Michael's first solo album.  I daydreamed that we might share headphones while listening to it, but as reality would have it, I think she loaned me her Walkman long enough to listen to one song.

The next year, she and I would perfect the art of the tongueless kiss.  (Is art the right word?)  I got my own copy of "Faith" and flat wore it out.  As it almost always does, the music outlived the crush.

I guess eventually the music outlives us all...

"I'm looking out for angels, just trying to find some peace..."