I wrote ten pages yesterday to Paul Simon's Graceland. I was vaguely aware of this album when it first came out back in the late 80s--I spent as much time as anyone else back then bopping along to the radio as he sang, "You can call...meeee...Al..." But it wasn't a pivotal landmark of time and place for me, the way it was for some folks.
My pivotal landmarks are far more embarrassing, but it's all coming out now that I'm writing a novel and need to imagine characters in earlier parts of their lives. And I'm finding an eclectic playlist as I take this little jaunt down memory lane.
I started listening to romantic music with themes of love & loss as soon as I was old enough to spin the dial on my Dad's beat up old radio. So far before I had any idea what I was singing or what it meant to be "lost in love," lyrics by Styx, Air Supply, and Journey filled the room as I belted them out into my hairbrush. They mixed in with the tunes from the Grateful Dead and Crosby, Stills & Nash drifting out from under my brothers' bedroom door, and my parents' steady rotation of The Captain & Tennille, Tony Orlando & Dawn, and the Mamas & The Papas. (To this day, I equate having an ampersand in your name with musical success of a certain sort...)
Eventually, I moved on to REM and INXS...even an embarrassing phase with A Flock of Seagulls. And I'm not sure how it happened, but I know every word to every song on at least two different albums by The Who.
When I read Jancee Dunn's novel, Don't You Forget About Me, I realized how powerful songs can be in acclimating a reader to a certain time and place. So that's what I'm trying to do. It's fun, and embarrassing, and dredging up all sorts of random memories I'm not sure what to do with. So I'm trying to capture it on paper, seeing what sort of scenes result that I probably wouldn't have come up with except for this infusion of musical memory.
How about you--what are your musical landmarks?