Last weekend I embarked on a mini road trip with my mother to visit my sister, who lives in northern Michigan. We ate at Cracker Barrel both on the way there and on the way back. I don't think I've ever eaten at Cracker Barrel before this, and to be honest, it wasn't that great. I'll take Denny's or Bob Evans breakfast instead. But my mom has made the trip enough that she knew which exit had the good Cracker Barrel versus the other two that had not so good Cracker Barrels. It was pretty amusing, particularly when she asked me if I could wait 20 miles to eat so we could go to the good one.
While we were driving back to the D, we found a radio station that was playing an old Casey Kasem Top 40 broadcast from the late seventies. I was born in 1974, so this was probably broadcast when I was maybe three or four years old. What was odd about it is that he played "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue" by Crystal Gayle and I had this moment where all of a sudden I was about three years old and my dad was singing that song, and dancing with me. I was standing on his feet. It was like a whoosh of a memory. I remembered my dad singing that song around the house. (My dad had brown eyes, my mom has blue, and all of us kids have either blue or green. The green is the recessive from both our grandpas.) That song was big in 1977, which means I was three. So how do I remember this? I don't know.
Anyway, I told my mom that song reminded me of dad, and it took her about five seconds, but then it came back to her, too. "Your dad always used to sing this song. How do you remember that?" I don't know. I just did. And if it was 1977, my dad was 30 years old when that was happening. Jesus. My dad died in 1993, by the way. I don't know if I've ever mentioned that.
This got me to thinking about the songs that remind me of my parents, because there are quite a few, and they are all tied to a specific memory, if vague. It's strange the way a song can do that. So, here they are:
1. Promises, Promises by Naked Eyes. No idea, but recall this video on MTV and both of my parents singing along to this song.
2. Karma Chameleon, by Culture Club. We had this album on tape, and I recall us listening to it while driving to Jenny Wiley state park. Or possibly Hartwick Pines. At any rate, some state park. And we listened to this tape over and over again.
3. Living on a Prayer by Bon Jovi. This is my mom all the way. She loved this song and sang along to it whenever it came on the radio. I thought she was the biggest dork ever. She was 37 years old. See the irony?
4. Night Moves by Bob Seger. My dad loved Bob Seger. He even bought a '60 Chevy and fixed it up. I chose this song, because I remember him singing this one, but any Bob Seger song makes me think of him. I also remember his orange Bob Seger t-shirt.
5. Summer Nights from Grease. Oh how I loved Grease. There is a picture of a four year old me next to a Barbie record player with the Grease album on it. I didn't catch all the dirty jokes or anything like that. I just wanted to be Sandy. Or even Olivia Newton John. Either one would've been fine with me. So, my dad and I used to sing Summer Nights together. I was Sandy and he was Danny. Now that I think about it, the lyrics make that sound a little creepy, but it wasn't. I always used to make him sing it with me.
6. Kashmir, Led Zeppelin. This is dad. He bought the Led Zeppelin box CD set off one of those TV ads. And I took ownership it from him when I was in high school. He knew I took it, and didn't really mind. But I can't hear the opening notes of Kashmir without feeling a little guilty about that.
7. When Doves Cry and Purple Rain, by Prince. This is mom. She took some class (she was always taking classes), and they watched Purple Rain. From that moment on, she was obsessed with Purple Rain. She still thinks it is one of the best movies ever made.
8. Every Breath You Take by The Police. Again, mom. She listened to this song so much that I am still sick of it twenty years later.
9. Isn't She Lovely by Stevie Wonder. I wasn't there for this, but when my parents were on the way to the hospital when my mom was in labor with H this song came on and my dad looked at my mom and said "It's another girl." At least that's the story. This was back before you could find out the sex of the baby beforehand. At any rate, whenever I hear this song I always think of that. It's H's song.
10. Cat's In The Cradle, cover by Ugly Kid Joe. This one is my issue, and reminds me of my dad. I was only 19 when I lost him, so I was at an age where I was only beginning to get to know him as a person as opposed to a parent. The line "What I'd really like Dad is to borrow the car keys, see you later can I have them please?" basically epitomized by high school relationship with him, so as I had just gotten to college our relationship had changed. And it got cut short. I don't feel guilt over it, but it still makes me sad. I wish every day he was here now, and every time I hear this song it makes me sad.