… and my sound’s laid down by the Underground. I drink up all the Hennessey ya got on ya shelf so just let me introduce myself…
Okay, so while being new to this virtual township may be semi-accurate, it should be known that don’t have a sound, and if I did, Digital Underground probably would not be assisting in its creation. It is also not likely that I will drink up any of your Hennessey, as I truly cannot stand cognac, let alone ingesting it in mass quantities. And, I am not really introducing myself, so much as I am introducing this blog, It Resonates.
So why is it that I have chosen to start this blog off with lyrics from The Humpty Dance?
Because it fits the theme of this blog.
Recently, it dawned on me that I have the tendency to use two cultural institutions as reference points in my life: sports and music. By referencing the important moments of these institutions, I am able to recall anything from my age, to my geographic location at the time, to my taste in food and clothing at the referenced time.
For example, I remember that I was in elementary school when the Giants played the A’s in the Bay Bridge Series, and the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake struck. My mother stopped
picking out clothes for me the year before, so I was probably wearing some solid colored non-descript sweat pants and tee-shirt or sweat shirt. I also recall that I would eat instant ramen or yaki soba with scrambled eggs after school every day, and I was carrying some on a wooden tray into the TV room of our house when the earthquake struck.
Well… maybe that is not a fair example since the earthquake itself was so memorable.
How about the Summers between 1984-1987? The Lakers played the Celtics in the NBA finals three times! We would be in Los Angeles for the final games of each series as it was our summer break, and we would visit our family in LA once school ended for my brother and me.
A family friend and her partner had their own clothing and accessory line in LA at the time, Boom Boom Wiz. They made tee-shirts, earrings, pins, and bolos, thus the family thought it would be cute to dress my brother and me in this apparel. In retrospect, some of the clothing was horrifically racist. One of the more popular designs, “Little Drummer Boy,” was basically a sambo caricature, complete with little dreadlocks and red lips, playing a djembe.
At Grandma and M’s (he did not like being called Grandpa) house, we would eat a lot of Special K, TV dinners, and bagels. The bagels would be accompanied with a traditional spread of lox, onions, tomatoes, and cream cheeses. I was a picky eater at the time, so I just had mine toasted with butter.
I also remember my brother saying something very profound for a five-year-old near the beginning of game five of the 1987 series. With the Lakers up 3-1 in the series, my Dad and Uncle J., two huge Laker fans, asked my brother the seemingly rhetorical question, “Which team do you want to win?”
My brother replied flatly (I am pretty sure he had yet to rid himself of his speech impediment), “Shewtics.”
With faces unable to hide their surprise and amusement at the blasphemy just witnessed, they looked at eachother and laughed as they asked,”Why the Celtics?”
Without missing a beat, my brother quieted their laughter with the very thoughtful response, “Sho theow can be anodoour game.”
The Celtics ended up winning game five, there would be a game six, and the Lakers closed out the series easily.
While sports tend to remind me of specific where-were-you-when-this-happened-moments, music seems to evoke memories of routine.
Numerous Beatles songs remind me of being glued to the television screen watching the the psychedelic images of the Yellow Submarine movie on VHS over and over again. I was particularly drawn to Jeremy Boob, the Nowhere Man; I even drew pictures of him with John Lennon, one of which hangs on the wall in my parents kitchen.
On some evenings, my mom and dad would break out their acoustic guitars to play and sing songs for my brother and me. I, of course, requested that my dad sing Nowhere Man every single time.
While the Beatles were the first group I think of as tied to memory, they only mark the beginning of a long list of artists I connect with different periods of my life.
I associate Motown, especially The Temptations, with riding in my father’s old 1976 Volkswagon Beetle. It was gold and had dark brown faux-leather and light brown corduroy upholstery acting as a thin buffer between the springs threatening to protrude from the seats, and my little grade school behind. Equipped with nothing but an AM/FM radio; sports talk shows, and oldies (especially Motown) would be our only accompaniment in crossing back and fourth over the Bay Bridge.
Conversely, I associate the Beetles, Paul Simon’s Graceland, and Michael Jackson’s, Thriller, with car rides in my mother’s 1980 Honda Accord Hatchback; sitting in the front seat with the windows down during day-time errands, slightly embarrassed by the attention I perceived us receiving from those outside the car due to the music blaring within.
Baby You Can Drive My Car always had me wondering why I could not drive, seeing as how I was far older than a baby, and the members of the Beatles were permitting one their babies to do so.
I was forever butchering the lyrics to Michael’s songs, and my mother never corrected me (maybe because she didn’t understand half of what he was saying either). As Beat It came through the speakers, I would sing along emphatically with MJ:
Nomo watcha feed and weed it
Donno watch funky
Donno watch right
It doesn’t matter
Ooze wronger right
Just beat it.
Paul Simon had me mesmerized with the imagery in his songs. I visualized red lasers shooting through a rain forest like a storm trooper crossfire, or watching myself playing kickball in slow-motion as an imaginary camera followed me as I reflected upon the lyrics contained within Boy in the Bubble. I wanted to Meet Tanana, and inspect the Diamonds on the Soles of her Shoes.
I remember considering all of these things while running my hand along the slipstream behind the side mirror outside of the passenger-side window.
These music-associated memories nearly span my entire life. From Free to Be You and Me telling me that it was okay for boys to like dolls, to REALLY falling in love with Hip Hop the day I heard Mos Def & Talib Kweli Present Blackstar during my sophomore year in college:
So much on my mind that it can’t recline
Blastin holes in the night til she bled sunshine
Breathe in, inhale vapors from bright stars that shine
Breathe out, weed smoke retrace the skyline
Heard the bass ride out like an ancient mating call
I can’t take it y’all, I can feel the city breathin
Chest heavin, against the flesh of the evening
Sigh before we die like the last train leaving
In short, music is inextricably interwoven with my memory. There truly is a soundtrack accompanying my life. Moreover, when the music is not playing in the background of thoughts of the past, I am often pondering the messages within each song, or allowing lyrics and melodies to shift me to a place of introspection. More so than sports, music has (and probably always will have) the capacity to connect with my life on multiple levels.
Music has always held meaning for me; be it my past, or present, it resonates in by head and chest both literally and figuratively. Hence, I have decided that this dynamic in my life will be this blog’s namesake. Each posting will reference or reflect upon music as I continue to document my life and the accompanying soundtrack.
Thanks for reading.