Memory-Making Music

April 8, 2009

When I say “album,” some young people look as if I’ve uttered a foreign word. Thus this headline touting the top 25 theme or concept albums caught my eye.

Cohesiveness in these works is lost in today’s random-shuffle world. My favorite (not that I’ve heard them all) is Sufjan StevensIllinoise. His “John Wayne Gacey, Jr.” makes me want to weep.

And surely someone has compiled another list of albums, albums forever linked to an experience, enshrining them in memory’s Hall of Fame.

Two start playing in my head. The Beatles’ Rubber Soul, a Christmas gift to my brothers and me in 1965. We played it endlessly during the school break as we sprawled on our living room floor. Even the color and texture of the carpet comes flowing back (or is it forward?), carried  on the sitar notes of Norwegian Woods. The other album repeated throughout a night in 1968 as several high school friends and I played poker then crashed. I don’t recall the album title, only Johnny Mathis‘ signature song, “Chances Are.”

Listening to Mathis now makes me squirm: the song is over-the-top romantic. Maybe we each fell asleep thinking of girls in our class, girls who still beckon in dreams set to soundtracks.