When I think of years gone by, at any different point in my life, there is always background music playing. In my head, I live in my own movie soundtrack. If I go back to junior high school, it is mostly the Beatles--mostly Rubber Soul. In high school it is much more varied, but certain songs do conjure up certain boyfriends. "Worst that Could Happen" (Johnny Maestro and the Brooklyn Bridge) makes me think of the guy I didn't really like, while "Cherish" (The Association) makes me think of the guy I married.
If I want to conjure up the 50's and what must have been countless hours spent in old fashioned diners, all I have to do is play some Doo-wop on the Jukeboxes. The Platters especially make me think of booth tables, Wallboxes (the term for the jukebox extension that was at the end of each table), and cream for coffee in tiny glass bottles.
But the funny part is that my span of recollection, and the feeling of "having been there" is actually much longer than my actual life.
For example, even though I grew up in the 50's and 60's I have a sense of what the 20's MAY have been like thanks to artwork, silent films, photos, and Rapsody in Blue. It is not hard to conjure up the Jazz Age in all it's glory when you listen to George Gershwin music or that of Irving Berlin, with songs like "Remember" and "Always." When you go to the Jazz Age web site, make sure to click on the music links. Happy Feet is the epitome of the 20's in my mind.Add that to the fact that the first "antique" my husband and I ever bought in the 70's was an old wind up RCA Victor "Victrola" with the collection of old 78's--mostly from post WWI thru the 30's.
Because I was home sick a lot as a kid, and because I lived in the sphere of wonderful NY TV, where old movies ran over and over again on any one of 6 stations, I also feel like I WAS THERE when it comes to the 30's and 40's.
Years of watching The Little Rascals, Fred and Ginger tap dance, and the Andrews Sisters appear in old Abbot and Costello movies helps me think that I know what the "dress" and the atmosphere was like during the FDR years. I got that old feeling again last night when I caught part of a rebroadcast of Ken Burns' "JAZZ" documentary. Yeah, "I remeber that" I thought to myself.
To some extent, these time machine feelings also slip back to the late 19th century from the combination of period art, photos and certain composers. Ditto to the Ragtime years when I hear Scott Joplin rags (great site where you can hear the rags played) . And, for the record, I never understod why they used Joplin in "The Sting," when it really should have been Irving Berlin or Cole Porter.
So, the other night, when we were sitting with a couple of glasses of wine and listening to Joni Mitchell's "Blue," I was back in Buffalo, in 1975, sewing dolls and puppets--which is when and where I listened to that album ALL of the time. That was a simple time also filled with Phoebe Snow and Poetry Man, another bit of background music for those years.
Of course, the time mchine does not stop collecting data. It's not hard to put myself about 5,10,15, 20 years ago, depending what album I play. And last year while painting the art for my book? Well, I will always be lost in the prairies with Roy Rogers and the Sons of the Pioneers. I played it over and over again. That, and Emmy Lou Harris and Willie Nelson and Hank Williams Jr. Yeehaw!