If you asked me when I was 14 about the soundtrack to my life, I would immediately conjure Friday nights, home alone, dressed in bathrobe and bearclaw slippers, bellowing the words to every song on Journey’s Escape album, particularly loudly “Don’t Stop Believin'”: Just a small town girl, livin’ in a lonely world/ She took the midnight train goin’ anywhere … Some will win, some will lose/ Some were born to sing the blues /Oh, the movie never ends/ It goes on and on and on and on …
If you said ‘music soundtrack’ to me when I was 24, 26, 27, I’d look at you, probably bleary-eyed because I’d been out until some ridiculous hour with my alt rock, musician boyfriend the night before, and in the same tone reserved for “Bless you!” when someone sneezes, I would say, “Yeah, me plus one!” Which meant, yes, of course I’ve heard of whatever music group I imagine you’re talking about, assuming they’re playing some club in L.A. Put me on the media list, and I’m bringing someone, whom I’ll either pass out on or get in a raging fight with in the hallway closest to the club’s ladies bathroom. Thus, my soundtrack for this period would have to include the morning ringing in my ears from perilously loud late-night angst rock lyrics with an overdub of someone repeating, “But that’s not what I asked you.”
Music has always played a prominent part in the backdrop that scrolls out behind me as I go. When I cook, for instance, I like to listen to music, most often something in Spanish, like Bebe or La Oreja de Van Gogh or flamenco guitar. Not because I have any Spanish heritage, but because Los Angeles, the place in which I was born and raised, and many of the dishes I prepare have a pronounced Spanish sabor. When I kayak, I almost always paddle downriver accompanied by some mind worm or another. Mind worm is my term for the insidious song that infects me and percolates out of me at random intervals almost without my consciousness. Often that mind worm is a commercial jingle such as the whistled theme to Enzyte, “for natural male enhancement.” Go figure.
Nowadays, the mention of music makes me think in circles. I sit in a circle or semi-circle to play mbira with fellow mbira players, all our parts harmonizing and swirling above our heads like hummingbirds ascending, their spiraling flight patterns buzzing ever higher. I sit in campfire circles listening to friends play guitar. I run around in circles listening to an iPod.
I’m curious what other folks think of as their personal soundtracks. Post a comment, if you would, please. Much obliged.