Musical Memories

I love music.  I don’t claim to have amazing taste or know a whole lot about music – I don’t play an instrument, can’t read music, etc…  I know what I like and I know what I don’t like.

I think, for everyone, there’s songs that will always evoke a moment in time.  I found a list I’d made of songs that either stood out for me as a piece of music or reminded me of something that meant something to me.  There were only a couple songs on the list and it kind of made me chuckle to see it again a few years later.  I remember when I wrote it, thinking that it’s be neat to flesh it out.  Now that I’m blogging, it seems like a good time.

This weekend, Phillip Seymour Hoffman passed away.  He was an incredible actor and always one of my favourites.  His passing brought this list to mind and sent me looking for it.  You see, he had a role in The Big Lebowski, one of my all time favourite movies, and that movie always reminds me of CCR.  Creedence was the soundtrack to my drive in to work this morning and the prompt for this post.

Def Leppard – Hysteria (the whole album)

This would have been around grade 8. We were living in Saudi Arabia and had taken a vacation at a beach house on the Red Sea.  I remember almost zero about the beach house itself or the time we spent there.  But I have a specific memory that is brought to mind whenever I hear anything off of the Hysteria album.

The weather was pretty crappy.  The entire sky was overcast, the clouds really low and bruised looking.  There was a huge wind coming in off the sea and the waves were white capping.  I don’t know if this was the first time that I had been close to rough seas, but it’s the clearest memory of it that I have.  Every other beach trip I remember has sun in it.  I was sitting on a dune, the sand a little damp, not enough to bother me, but not dry.  I had a giant Sony Walkman and the Hysteria tape in it.  The music was loud enough that I could barely hear the waves or the wind; they were loud enough that I couldn’t ignore them either.  It was a perfect, moody moment where the music seemed to be apart of the bruised sky and almost storm that I was watching.  This was the first time that I can remember realizing how amazing it was to listen to music you love on ear phones.  Not listening to it on earphones just to stop my parents from complaining, but because that was the point, to hear as much of the music as I could.  I doubt I will ever forget it.

Bush – Glycerine (1994)  

For about a year, one summer in particular, I listened to Bush (known as Bush in the rest of the world and Bushχ here in Canada due to some copyright problems).  I loved and still enjoy the album, Sixteen Stone.

I was at my girlfriend, Nathalie’s house.  Nathalie had a daughter (I think she was around 4-5 months) and we were there because Nathalie’s parents wouldn’t babysit more than one night on the weekends.  We were in the living room and the TV was tuned to Much Music.  Suddenly Glycerine came on.  I’m pretty sure that it was the video premiere, but can’t be 100%.  The opening guitar had me hooked right away, but what really got me was that I thought for sure that it sounded like Pearl Jam.  Gavin Rossdale’s vocals were gravelly and pretty baritone and I got very excited because I had no idea that Pearl Jam were coming out with something new.  By the end of the song I realized it wasn’t Pearl Jam, but I had heard something that grabbed at me.  I also remembered that Nathalie had no interest at all in the song or my excitement about it.

Sixteen Stone became a staple for music in the car, the next best thing to earphones.  The first summer that Dany (my better half of the past 17years) were together, we listened to that album so many times that neither of us can hear it without thinking of that heady and exciting time in our lives.

Stone Temple Pilots – Tiny Music… Songs from the Vatican Giftshop (1996)  

I was already a fan of STP.  At the time, I was as big a fan of theirs as I was of Pearl Jam.  Core was excellent but Purple was the album that I couldn’t get enough of.   It was also in heavy rotation in the car for years.

I was seeing Michelle at the time.  We’d heard on the radio, that STP had a new album and that there would  be an album release show, where they’d play the album on air.  This was amazing because I wasn’t working and had no money at all (a source of annoyance for Michelle and led to the eventual demise of that particular relationship).  She had a great tape deck setup in her room, where we spent most of our time (no money to go out).  I had a couple of old tapes set up so that I could record the broadcast and was very excited to her what was coming out.  Michelle was less enthused than I.  She was studying to become a nurse and was working on homework and studying.  Because of this she made it very clear that I could record the show, but the volume had to be way down.  In the end, the recording was garbage.  There was tonnes of static from a badly tuned radio  and songs cut in half by the switch from one tape to the other.  In the end I ended up buying the album and never got to hear the album ahead of time.

The Eagles – Hotel California (don’t remember the year of this one)

I made it to the halfway point of high school without ever having heard Hotel California.  I was out on a date with Linda.  We’d know each other briefly when I lived overseas and  years later discovered that she had moved to Ottawa.  I’m pretty sure that this was probably one of those dates that she remembers well.  Not because it went well, but because girls always remember these dates.  I was immature, to be sure, and had no real idea what going on a date was all about.  We had dinner and then went to a movie.  In my brain, if you were going out on a date you should be “seeing” the other person, as in be boyfriend/girlfriend.  Linda hadn’t seen my in a few years and here I was, on our first date, trying to convince her that she should be exclusive with me.  She agreed, though I’m sure it was to get me to shut the fuck up.  After the movie, on the way home, Hotel California came on.  I loved it.  Now, to be honest, it’s a good song, but I don’t love it anymore.  But I’ll always remember that date and the end of the date because of this song.  I pretty much begged Linda to lend me the tape so that I could record the song.  She really didn’t want to lend it to me.  Apparently this was my night for being pushy and convincing.  She lent me the tape.  I see now that she didn’t want to lend me the tape because there was no way she was seeing me again.  I know that I got the tape back to her.  I don’t remember when (probably not quickly) and I don’t remember how.  Young Geoff was a bit of a naive tool at times.  Linda, you have my apologies.  And for the record… “I’ve had a rough night and I hate the fucking Eagles, man.”

Guns N Roses – Paradise City (1988) 

Diana’s TV room.  This was my introduction to GNR and to how awesome a music video could be.  We were living in Saudi Arabia at the time.  Diana was my best friend and an 80s rock/hair band fan.  I was just learning not to listen to Duran Duran.  We were hanging out at her house along with her boyfriend (maybe named Chris) and my girlfriend at the time, Lindsay.  Diana made us all shut up when it came on and made sure we were listening.  I fell in utter love with it and subsequently the album and the band.  Other than Pearl Jam, I’ve never been a fan of a band longer than I was of GNR.  I can still listen to and love most of their music.

Better than Ezra – Good (1995ish) 

This one is unique because this was the first time I remember buying and album for a particular song and hating the rest of the album.  I can’t hear this song without thinking of my first apartment.

It was a horrible little bachelor apartment near the market in Ottawa.  It had brown and white checked linoleum floors, one room and a bathroom.  I managed to make that apartment last for about 6months before being evicted for not being able to pay the rent.  The landlord was great; he let me out of the lease without a fuss.  I just didn’t have the money.  That was a very lean time.  It spanned an excellent (sort of) summer that I now refer to as The-Summer-of-Darkness.  No cable and no computer meant lots of music and this was a song that I had playing pretty regularly.  For a time there, any time I liked a song or set of songs, I’d play them over and over almost to the point of getting sick of them.

Thanks for reading.

This is not a complete list.  There are a great many moments in my life that I attach to or are associated with the music I listen to, but these were on the list, plus a couple that popped into my head as I wrote this post.  If you know for a fact that I have specific memories about you that are attached to music, please don’t feel left out.  I’m sure that there will be at least a part two to this post.


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