“make sure you don’t forget me…” pop music, memory, and becoming a grown-up

grow up

So I was helping out for a lovely event yesterday in one of the fine museums here that was all about music, memory, and the things we collect & keep throughout our lives. It started (too) early in the morning with an active retirement group who brought in objects they have kept over the years to do with music, ranging from an array of 7″s and LP’s, to birthday cards signed by Tony Bennett, Al Jolson wrist-watches, and wonderful stories of pianos being brought outside for sing-song street parties after the war. I really loved the morning group. The facilitators had to bring along objects too, and so I brought the only music related item (non-CD/vinyl) that I have moved over here – a little notebook that had found its way here by being stuck between some academic rabble.

Inside the notebook was all the songs I’ve ever written, from unused lyrics, to unheard melodies, some hastily scribbled letters & numbers on the back of envelopes, clothes-tags, stickers… It has become a kind of silenced diary, filled with sounds that are yearning to be made out loud but that will probably never happen. But then there are a few songs that have been heard, and heard in some strange places. I haven’t listened to or heard these songs in such a long time, and yesterday got me thinking about why that might be. The lyrics for one song were written on a payslip for a job I had many moons ago, complete with my name and my national insurance number, but what is even stranger about this is that it’s not my handwriting. And so I’m instantly transported & can suddenly remember exactly where I was, the time of day, who was there, how it was written…

Then there’s the fact that the actual date of writing is printed and documented on the payslip – May 18th, near four years ago. It feels like a lifetime ago now. Little did I know then, that sunny afternoon sitting in the back yard, that days like that were oh so very rare. And even rarer still, that a chance date later that night would result in the kind of first kiss fairy tales are made of, leading to a hiatus in South-East Asia sometime later, developing a terribly sweet-tooth, and a marriage proposal (of sorts)…

All this change in only four little years.

So anyway. Here’s some of the words from one of the songs that I revisited from yesterday. Funny how lyrics can carry such different meaning with even a little bit of distance. Originally called ‘Paul Simon (I Love You)’, it was decided that we all felt more love for Chevy Chase instead. If you want to, you can hear the song here.

You say what you want to always… 

This is our one and only chance to make something out of ourselves

But still we’re trying to pretend that this was worth it in the end

As the sound of my voice rings in your ears make sure you don’t forget me

This is all I ever want for you

This is all I have ’til you refuse

Everything that once went through my head

The letters that you wrote…. we will…

This is all I know to make this true, this is what you said you understood

Things like this they happen all the time so let’s just do our best

To move on

mkl xx

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