Saturday, March 18, 2006


My twin brother emailed us an old piece of music Friday morning. Something by the Moody Blues. We listened, and it sent me on a journey back in time in an instant. Some music just does that. Suddenly it's 1969, I'm 17 and sitting cross-legged on the floor in my older brother's bedroom. I'm with my siblings, and we're stoned together. We've just smoked a lot of hash from Tangiers and we're laughing at everything and nothing at all. I look at them and realize that we share this moment like we share our parents' genes. There will never be anyone else that will have this combination of time and genetics. We look at each other. I haven't said a word, but I think they must know what I'm thinking. We're reading each other's minds, or at least we think we are. That makes us laugh even more.

Recently, I asked my mother about nostalgia and music. I wondered if the heart-pulling nostalgia I feel when I listen to certain songs is just a visceral longing for my young self. That seems a reasonable explanation, and I know that must be part of it. But my mom feels a tug on her heart too when she hears some music by The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, or Crosby, Stills, and Nash. I say, "But mom your nostalgia can't be for your youth, so why do you think it tugs at you?" We talk about it. She tells me that she feels something about that generation of kids who thought they could change the world. She saw us march against the war, challenge authority, protect the environment; she heard us talk about living on communes; she watched us plant our first gardens, build cabins, and try to live our dreams. All of that floods her memory when she hears that music. She said that she feels like she has two sets of music that set her remembrances in motion, the one she shared with my dad-- all that Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, and String of Pearls, big band sound; and the one her children listened to, while they were coming of age. They live in her like separate soundtracks, and both stir her passions.

I try to imagine what it will be like thirty years from now, and wonder if people will feel nostalgic for hip hop or rap music. Will their nostalgia feel like this? Or are my teen years irrevocably entwined with a time, a zeitgeist that was markedly different from other times. I had a good and crazy friend many, many years ago who told me that the way some eras are marked by particular artistic movements (classical, neo-classical, impressionism, etc), our time was marked by a movement in music. An era that is long over. What era do we live in now? What will people remember and be stirred by?

For a beautiful look at what the 60s embraced and encompassed, please check this post by our dear friend at the Secret Garden.

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