Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Muzak of Our Lives

A few months back I was in the grocery store and King Harvest's "Dancing in the Moonlight" came over the speakers. It prompted in me a wave of nostalgia for my childhood so acute that I rushed to gather my purchases of skim milk, pickles and packaged tortellini so I could immediately tear home and download (steal) it off of Acquisition.

Suddenly I was eager to acquire (steal) more music online that would remind me of the blissful and simple time of my childhood before my younger brother and sister came along, forever mucking up my life by making me love them so powerfully that it literally breaks my heart when they announce things like, say, "I'm moving to Germany for three years!" Just as an example, of course. (Although, my brother IS moving to Germany for three years, that little asshole. Who does he think he is? A GROWNUP capable of MAKING HIS OWN CHOICES, or something?)

ANYWAY, some of my fondest memories of this time pre-siblings are of riding on the front bench seat in between my parents in their '67 Old Cutlass Supreme ("Old Blue") on the winding roads that ran between our house and a nearby state park in South Dakota, listening to the radio. This was back in the days when people didn't take ridiculously overprotective precautions regarding their children, such as using carseats or not smoking two packs a day while pregnant. Bah! Who needs it? I turned out FINE.

The radio station of choice during those drives was liklely LITE 92.5 KELO-FM, whose playlist, magically, hasn't changed in the last 25 years or so, at least as far as I can tell. Whenever I go home it's like a time audio capsule. The Doobies were light back then, and hey man, they're still light today.

I went on a downloading binge -- the Doobie Brothers, Crosby, Stills & Nash, the Allman Brothers, and my top-top favorite, Ambrosia. "How Much I Feel" has got to be one of the best songs of all time. And, no, I'm not kidding. When he "tries to recall when they were as one," I want to write poetry and run naked into the ocean. Make a wish, and they'll make it come true. Plus, how great is it that four guys sitting around in California trying to think of what to name their band thought their most awesome, bad-ass, rock-star option was "AMBROSIA." Sweet.

The problem with nos-rock (nostalgia rock) is that you can't conjure it up. It has to come TO you, really, be it in a grocery store or an elevator. You can't remember it unprompted. But once you hear it, the songs blow through the heavy curtains of fogged-over memories, dulled as they are by years of alcohol abuse and lack of sleep. They take you back to that place where you're sitting between your parents, looking forward to an afternoon of running around in a pile of leaves. A place where you have yet to dream up names for the babies that are still on the way. (As an aside, when asked, I wanted to name my sister "Cookie" and my monikor of choice for my brother was "Casey Helmet." Surprisingly, my parents thanked me for my input and then went with other options.)

So, here's my question: what songs do you recommend from the 1970s in the vein of the Doobies and Ambrosia that will flow through my ipod, taking me out of a subway car where I'm crammed in between a loudmouthed hooligan eating chicken wings and a smelly bum who just pooped himself, and back to that benchseat in the Oldsmobile of my youth?

Tell me, so I can steal back my earliest memories from the Internet.


Anonymous Melissa said...

A little late, I realize, but I came across your brilliance while actually searching for a KELO playlist online so that I can make a nos-rock album for my sister! Your sentiments are mine exactly, yet my husband cringes while I am downloading Anne Murray, Orleans, and Poco songs. Since I obviously also grew up in SF and return only once a year to see family, I'm thinking KELO is some sort of on-air drug that has drawn us all in with it's addictive Dan Fogelberg-esque playlist. I guess folks that didn't grow up with Light and Easy 92.5 K-E-L-O FM just won't understand....

11:26 AM  

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