Songs have a way of attaching themselves to a moment that never fades. It becomes personal. You hear the tune and are instantly sent back. Another place – another time.
Every song has a memory.
Matthew Sweet – Girlfriend
Vancouver’s UBC Thunderbird Stadium. July 13, 1995.
Arriving in the middle of the eight hour long Another Roadside Attraction music festival, I lassoed my media pass lanyard around my neck and headed for the gate. Soon, I would be asked to walk on stage, rev the crowd up and announce that one of the bands were minutes away from playing. Honestly, I don’t recall the band I brought on (Rheostatics perhaps?) I just remember double checking to see if my fly was zipped up, then walking onstage, looking at the crowd and thinking:
“Yep…that looks like thirty thousand people out there.”
Now, you would think that would be the dominant memory: greeting a giant mass of humanity and watching the crowd give a sudsy salute back at me by holding up their plastic beer cups while softly bouncing giant beach balls back and forth in the air – feeding off the festival frenzy.
But it wasn’t.
As the afternoon carried on, I found myself backstage again, grooving to Matthew Sweet, who was five or six songs deep in his set. The cloudy, muggy day had finally given in to a west coast summer shower.
Near the hospitality tent, two guys were deep in a vicious game of table tennis. A large, burly man with a floppy brimmed hat was holding his own against a denim clad, slender dude showing off his catlike agility.
As I stepped closer to take in the sporting event, a thunderous group of cheers rose up from the crowd. Sweet had kicked into his signature hit “Girlfriend.”
The two ping-pong players stopped for a second and took in the energy. I watched the band wail until the vocals kicked in:
I wanna love somebody
I hear you need somebody to love
Oh, I wanna love somebody
I hear you’re looking for someone to love
Heads were bobbin’. Like someone had all of a sudden turned on the party switch.
The ping-pong game resumed. Stepping closer to the table, I realized I was looking at John Popper from the band Blues Traveler deliver a backhand smash towards Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip.
I smiled and became part of the growing crowd watching two immense music talents engaged in a backstage battle of skill. The “k’nip k’nop – k’nip-k’nop” of the ball kept a steady rhythm with the song.
A musical memory to last a lifetime.
Whenever “Girlfriend” blares out of speakers, I’m right back at the ping-pong table.
Every Song Has A Memory – a weekly blog about how music helps you remember the moments of your life.