In cognitive theory you learn that each person has their own filing system, unique to themselves. This filing system dictates how a person will respond to certain events or actions in their life. It tells us how memories are formed and what might trigger memories. Many of my memories are centered around music which really should not surprise anyone.
A few weeks ago I heard a song on a compilation cd that triggered a memory, a powerful memory and one I had not thought of since the early 80s. It was a bit surprising as I had heard the song a hundred times and never once had that particular memory. What is really strange is that a few weeks from now I will gather with friends for our next vinyl party and I have a sub-theme to my selected songs maybe because of this memory or maybe as a result of just looking for songs. Some of you might believe that life is a series of choices all leading to becoming something, a search for some mystical thing. I don’t mean to dive into the deep end here but a lot of my upcoming theme centers around becoming. We become a man, become a social worker, become a father or mother and the list goes on.
I cannot remember the when, although I know the approximate time frame. I had just bought a 1984 Trans Am. So it could have been late 1983 or early 1984. That’s probably the least important thing about the memory. I had a small group of friends from high school. When we graduated we all went separate directions. I went to school. Another of my friends faced his sexuality and explored that. My best friend got married shortly after graduation to his high school sweetheart. They are still married. He worked and went to school part time. I went over to my friend’s house, chatted with him showed him my new car. I wanted to go run around and I was wanting to buy an album (actually a cassette.) It was pretty cool when my other friend also showed up and we went out together. We ended up at Target and I bought this cassette. There was a little bit of the old horseplay but not much which was understandable. We piled back in my car and I put my new music in and cranked it. Less than one song later they wanted to turn the music down and wanted to go home. They had other things going on. I said my goodbyes a little later and realized how far we had drifted. Where once we had all been on a path together now we were on different paths and I realized that my path wasn’t better or more special than theirs just different.
It might seem strange that a song like Motley Crue’s Shout at the Devil would engender so much in me. It isn’t the music or the lyrics though that reminded me of my friends. Life happens. It moves whether we are sitting still or moving rapidly towards a goal. Life happens whether you are rich or you are poor, faithful or skeptic. As I said I had never had that memory before with any song now it seems unlikely I will be able to hear it and not think of it. That’s both the power of music and the power of memories.
I first heard the album Shout at the Devil in the small town I worked in during the summer, weekend and holidays. A young guy I sometimes rode around with was in love with the song Knock em Dead Kid, which admittedly is a great song. He would drive around for hours listening to that one song which is probably why people were not riding around with him. Just a thought.
Motley Crue just seemed to appeal to my metal loving half, the music driving and Mick’s guitar which I have always thought is incredibly underrated. He is the drive for that band, the wall of sound that emanates. It wasn’t the make up either or the spandex and leather or even the big hair. It was just this band and like other bands no matter whether they like each other or hate each other together there is something mgical about them. This isn’t a comparison but they remind me of the Rolling Stones. Mick Jagger isn’t the greatest singer, and until recently Keith Richards was rarely viewed as some great guitarist. Charlie Watts has one of the smallest drum kits ever for a drummer in a rock and roll band. Whoever the second guitarist has been when you put all their pieces together its special. Motley Crue is the same way to me.
I have all sorts of musical heroes and I have several just plain old heroes. Nikki Sixx is the only one I have in both categories. No he isn’t Ulysses Grant but he is heroic. His story is compelling, a heroin addict who found recovery and somehow through that process became this completely different person, a better musician, a better husband and a better father, but mostly a better human. You might focus solely on his flaws but I recognize that we are all flawed. It’s how we handle that. I would say that Nikki Sixx has handled his flaws better than most. If you don’t know his story then go find out as it’s really easy.
I could go through the songs and the albums but you get the point right. The real story is not my love of Motley Crue, or Nikki Sixx. No it’s the memory of so long ago and the realization that my life was changing and my friends’ lives were changing and where once we were on the same path now we had drifted. I didn’t go back or if I did it was only briefly. I lost touch went out with new friends and found new passions including a profession. Theirs did too. It is that part that makes me sad, the process of what was once so valuable to me becoming changed. I didn’t consciously go through all of this when it was happening that is the point of retrospection to gain an understanding of some past event. It is always the little things that eat at us.
Meanwhile, I am still becoming.