When you’re 40licious, you have a very specific soundtrack to your life. My first memories of music were dancing for anyone who would watch in my dad’s home office, the long leather couch a stage, to Teresa Brewer’s “Put Another Nickel in Music Music Music.” Later, there was listening to disco and yacht rock on a Snoopy transistor radio under my pillow — Little River Band, Dionne Warwick, Kenny Rogers, Eric Clapton (“Lay Down Sally” seemed like a very dirty song to me). And then on to junior high and high school for a stupefying cocktail consisting mainly of New Wave/Southern Rock/Led Zeppelin/Journey/REO Speedwagon/Foreigner/Loverboy, infused with the adolescent yearnings of the FAME soundtrack. (I also lip synched Irene Cara’s “Why Me?” at a talent show in a gold lame top over a black pleather miniskirt.)
There are the breakup albums, with the Cranberries and Ani Di Franco leading the pack. And always through everything, Beatles, since I took it upon myself to illustrate what Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds might look like.
So I don’t know why it is that tonight, getting ready to hunker down for my homebody Saturday with a French film (I’m in a phase, but please do get Jean de Florette and Manon of the Spring, you will be so much richer as a person for seeing them), and I do a little channel flip to see Tony Orlando and some middle-aged woman with a Mom haircut hawking the Time-Life collection “Romancing the 70s.” It’s a monstrous compendium of 156 songs. These songs are in my DNA. I’ve heard them all thousands of times. And I don’t know why I am so riveted by the clips of Anne Murray, Neil Sedaka, Lionel Ritchie, BJ Thomas, Captain & Tenille — there are scores — in their 70s flair and gloss. But I am, and I can’t turn away, and choking back tears is a futile effort.
My first reaction is to wonder why I am so moved by this music, these wide collars and far out hairstyles. A mental check confirms it is not PMS.
It is because the 70s were about summer breezes and midnight trains to Georgia and morning breaking. Danny’s song and Annie’s song. Or knocking three times and taking a little afternoon delight. Asking if you know where you’re going to.
I can’t think of a contemporary song that grabs me in the exact same spot. Maybe it’s nostalgia. Maybe it’s because I know I’ll never love this way again.