#11: wherein the Guy makes his formal introduction–“Music as a Vehicle for Memory”

Hello loyal readers of iremembercassettes.com, I am the sometimes referenced Guy. Other than a few comments to Joel’s posts this is my first appearance here at irc. I plan to be an infrequent contributor and an occasionally unreliable storyteller here.

I’ve heard many times that smell is the strongest sense in memory evocation, the reason this can be is rather obvious [ed. note: Guy doesn’t follow this up, but we shall chalk that up to whisky or whiskey]. Music, however, acts in a similar way—lyrics, songs, perhaps entire albums can send anyone back in time and space or as the great poet William Ocean once said, “Get out of my dreams and into my car.”

I pay down my student loans by working as a delivery guy and quite often I will be out running deliveries when the song I’m listening to takes me back to the last time I listened to it. I will recall what particular block of which street I was on when I heard it or what the weather was like or some interaction I had with someone that day.

Some albums will always remind me of a certain place or period in my life. Boxcar Racer, Blink 182’s Enema of the State, and The Transplants all recall 2002-03 when I would drive up to Erie to visit the girl I was dating at the time at college. I’ve listened to Boxcar and Blink more outside of that context than under those conditions, but they always put me in my Mercury Sable somewhere on the road between home and Erie, PA.

Attack in Black’s Marriage lands me on the interstate system in Ohio, as I often listen to that when I drive out to Columbus to visit my friend Tyler. And because Tyler used to live in Atlanta, Gaslight Anthem’s Sink or Swim, The Senor and the Queen ep, and The ’59 Sound place me in the passenger seat of Tyler’s Jeep Wrangler with the top down the wind and sun assaulting us as he chauffeured the two of us around the city in the summer of ’08.

Incidentally, Hulk Hogan’s Hulk Rules will always remind me of hanging out with Pat and Joel in my apartment. Pat and I decided it would be a great idea to listen to it at 11 am, prompting Joel to say something akin to “fuck you guys,” and he immediately started drinking the beer he and Pat hadn’t finished the night before [ed. note: I have always been a champ (or an idiot)].

In the case of individual songs, Less Than Jake’s “Scott Farcas Takes it on the Chin,” from the moment the music starts until it’s over finds me back in the multi-purpose room at Indiana University of Pennsylvania where I saw them play it in the fall of 2000 I believe. Regardless of the year, when that track starts, I can feel the energy in the room, I can smell the room (there’s that aroma/memory link), I can see Rick’s awesomely strange friend Eddie walking on his hands at the back of the room where we were hanging for the show.

But the other night, while listening to The Smiths, I had a great transportation involving great music, a great friend, and some sweet ass dance moves. “Ask” is a great song, no room for discussion, but even if it weren’t I would always love it because that song is synonymous with the Windmill Dance( JPL5 model). Outside of shitty songs like the Macarena, Electric Slide, and Boot-Scootin’ Boogie, the only song as far as I can remember that is tied specifically to a particular dance is “Ask.” The JPL5 Windmill can certainly, and most definitely should be, performed to any song at all. In the history of my mind though it was a move inspired by “Ask,” performed in all such instances with drink in hand and smile on the face.

I love Joel, he is one the greatest friends I’ve ever had or could have ever asked for as well as one of the more interesting characters I’ve encountered [ed. note: I did not ask for this plug, but you won’t actually ever know if that’s true or not]. I also can attest to the fact that he’s a dynamite kisser, but that awkward yet steamy and slightly tittilating story should probably wait until a later day, as well as the full origin story of our friendship and the legendary summer we shared and dubbed The Summer (hey it was before either of us went to school for writing so excuse our obvious title).

Anyway, back to the topic at hand, “Ask” takes me again to my old apartment, the place where I unwittingly lived the best years of my life. Back then I thought my life sucked and I thought I was miserable and I just wanted it to be over and I could move into the next phase of my life—how wrong I was.

Can you, reader, relate to being a young idealistic fucking dunderhead? I had it made. I lived with my oldest and closest friend, we had people over hanging out, drinking, shooting the figurative shit, listening to music, playing video games or watching awesomely bad movies. Once we tried to keep a body count during a Charles Bronson movie on a clicker taken long ago from a UPS truck. Whoever was in charge, if I recall, got so entangled in the movie and overwhelmed by the bodies dropping it like it was hot (whatever that is) or the movie’s propensity of letting the bodies hit the floor, that the count was abandoned pretty early on and thus our contribution to science went unfinished and unheralded.

Sure, in that apartment Tyler and I were broke as fuck and I made a lot of meal out of 99 cent loaves of italian bread while Tyler opted for donkey dicks mixed with pork and beans, but those are the years I will remember and return most frequently for the rest of my life. Tyler knew shortly after he left the apartment and the state for a great career opportunity and adulthood what we had there; I thought he was out of his fucking mind. It wasn’t until much later that I saw how right he was. And it is that place, those years, and the magic we all combined to conjure up that I feel when I listen to “Ask.” I’m in the apartment, on our ratty ass duct taped at least second hand couch playing Madden ’02 or some such year on either my Xbox or Playstation 2. Joel as is custom and I believe mandatory, and although I’ve never tried to stop him, is playing DJ for the evening. His attention span, being the length of my eyelashes, causes him to change directions more than the imaginary son of Walter Peyton and Barry Sanders. At some point “Ask” is played and Joel, beer in hand, cranks up the windmill and the rest is history. Although I very infrequently enjoy a good JPL5 Windmill, I can never stop myself from windmilling along to “Ask.”

If it’s not love, then its the windmill that will bring us together.

One thought on “#11: wherein the Guy makes his formal introduction–“Music as a Vehicle for Memory”

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