About Me

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Paso Robles, California, United States
Novelist, poet, songwriter, and journalist, I bring over four decades of experience to the written page. I just finished Mental Hygiene, a coming of age novel set in Fort Jackson, SC circa 1967-68.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Memory Accompaniment

"How does it feel
How does it feel
To be without a home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone ?"

     Like a Rolling Stone
     Bob Dylan

I was on the beach in Santa Monica.  Bikini babes, sun, and surf, were my world.  And then I heard "Like a Rolling Stone" on somebody's transistor radio.  I changed, and the memory of that song embedded itself in my brain.  Every time I heard it repeated, I would always remember exactly where I was and how I felt at that moment.

And that's how it is with the generation of folks before digital and electronic this and that.  We identify ourselves with music.  We are that moment when we first heard the song, whether it's Dylan or Manilow.  Most of the time it happens when we hear the first chord.  We're swept back to time and place and feeling.

If I were to write a memoir, it would have a soundtrack.  When I write fiction or poetry, there is a drum fill, a guitar solo, or a sax howling behind the words.  All writing, for me at least, is lyrical, because my "memory accompaniment" is always there peeking around the edge of the imagery.

In conjuring up recollections from my past for Mental Hygiene, my new novel, I relied heavily on music from 1967-68.  Things that I had forgotten came flooding back with every strumming hook line.  I was there because the songs insisted that I relive the details.  The heart of what I'd stored in my head filled the pages.

Everything is faster now, by demand.  If we want to keep up, we cannot afford to savor.  The keyboards are smaller, and the information bigger.  The chords have become cordless.  The sounds of our lives are disappearing in the din of multimedia.

I feel lucky.  Dylan, Joni Mitchell, even Ella Fitzgerald, hold on to my past and future dreams on vinyl reminders.  I'm hardwired at the intro.  So like the song, Where or When

"It seems we've stood and talked like this before..."

1 comment:

  1. I must of been on that same beach in Santa Monica. I was one of those Bikini babes in the sun and it was my world too in those days. Transistor radios and beach blankets so long ago. We all changed I think, looking back now it was a different world. I heard the same songs yet I write different words but we share the same memories. We met again so to speak.