Monday, June 15, 2015

iPod Time Machine

Many people have written and talked about the power of music to transport us through time to particular eras, locations and emotions. Music is often fuel for the imagination and a balm for a wounded soul. It has great power. Recently there have been three specific instances where songs have popped up on my iPod and taken me back in time to wonderful moments and places in ways not even photographs could do. While a Hot Tub Time Machine sounds like more fun, until that day arrives you'll have to settle for these stories from my iPod Time Machine. Enjoy!

Although it is hard to believe now, once upon a time in days of yore (on a side note, when exactly was Yore?) I was in junior high school. The big social events of the early 1970s in Greensboro, NC were these school dances we called Sock Hops. The name was a leftover from the 1950s but was still valid for us. The dances were held in the gym, which had a beautiful hardwood floor, so no hard sole shoes were allowed. To make it simpler, NO shoes were allowed- thus the socks. Anyway, in those days we 7th and 8th graders seldom were involved in any sort of "dating," so probably 75% of the crowd at any given Hop was there alone and looking for dance partners. It was not unusual for an extrovert (and glutton for punishment!) like me to dance with a dozen different girls in one evening- and ask several more. Upbeat songs- what we referred to as "Fast Dances" - were easy. Everyone just got out on the floor and moved in ridiculous and embarrassing ways. Slow dances were where the rubber hit the road. When you were 13 years old, freshly pubescent and totally hormonal, being able to hug a dance partner and turn in slow circles for 3 minutes at a time was a gift from God. There were many great slow dance songs- I especially remember I'll Be There by the Jackson 5, Precious and Few by Climax and pretty much every song Bread ever recorded- but there was only one 45rpm that required advanced planning, great strategy and possibly even bribing whoever was running the record player that night so you would KNOW when they were going to play it. Only one song required an absolutely perfect dance partner. Only one song gave you 8 wonderful minutes of pure heaven, dancing with the girl of your (for that night) dreams. You had to ask in advance, and you had to ask first. On REALLY good nights they would play it twice. And to this day every time I hear The Beatles sing Hey Jude my mind rushes back to dancing in my socks some 40+ years ago. I remember the girls who shared a dance with me- and the ones who turned me down. The highs and the lows of those years come rushing back. And I remember how I wouldn't trade them for anything!

My iPod Time Machine has a playlist called Really? It's made up of songs that even I have a hard time believing are on the device. One of those songs is a real rarity in this day and age, a song seldom played on oldies stations and not used in any commercials. As teenagers, my best friend Steve and I used to spend a lot of nights walking the sandy shores of North Myrtle Beach, SC. Often we would lament our love lives and talk of hopes and dreams. But pretty much always we would sing. The songs varied and were often destined for obscurity- like Hurricane Smith's Oh Babe What Would You Say? - but we loved singing them. One of the classics from that era was a song about a wife and mother named Mary Jo who ran away from home to become a stripper. Steve and I knew every word, every pause and every vocal intonation to Tony Orlando & Dawn's minor hit Say Has Anybody Seen My Sweet Gypsy Rose? We would stroll along the deserted beach belting it out with great gusto. And on the rare occasions it pops up on my time machine I am transported to the sand, the waves, and the full moon over the ocean, taunting us because we were walking with each other and not the girls of our dreams. Such great memories- it's a trip I am always glad to take. And sorry Steve, but you can't deny it any longer- and you still know the words too, don't you?

Eventually (1977-78) Steve and I headed off to our freshman year of college at Lenoir Rhyne in Hickory, NC. We didn't room together but we were both in Morgan Dorm (The Teddy Bear Motel!) with lots of other guys. My tenure at LR only lasted the one year, but it seems much longer because of the great people and wonderful stories (I really should share a few of them soon) of that year. The group of guys who became my best buddies that year were quite a group of characters. We played intramurals together (our first team name was Jedi Knights, even though at the time Star Wars was so new we weren't sure if it was Jedi or Jet-Eye!), dined in the cafeteria together and just generally hung out whenever we could. Cafeteria food in those days was not all that good/ bad/hard to eat terrible, and quite often late at night we would be hungry again. For the most part (unless Charlie's grandma sent cash- but that's another story!) none of us ever had any money, so we were limited in our choices. Then one day, as if in a vision, we discovered that the local Pizza Hut had a deal for a 99 cent all-you-could-eat salad bar. It became a frequent stop for us even when no one could afford any pizza to go with it. We shared many adventures there during the following few months, and developed some traditions along the way. We would always attempt to talk the manager into giving us free pizza. I remember that working once, when the manager was on his last night and had been drinking. We feasted that night! We would always fill out a comment card asking the people who prepared the salad bar to "slice the cucumbers thinner." They never did. And each visit our buddy Danny Hines would stroll over the jukebox, drop in a quarter and play The Tams beach music classic Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy, often followed by the Jay Ferguson hit Thunder Island. Anytime my iPod Time Machine calls up either of those two songs I'm back in Hickory eating salad with The Stallions (our next intramural name) and complaining about the thickness of sliced cukes. Amazing.

So which songs send you soaring back in time? I'd love to hear from you today. Be blessed, have a great week and remember to "enjoy every sandwich." Make today count!


  1. Anonymous6/15/2015

    Love the stories and the songs. The ones I have heard of anyway. A sock hop? Dude you are seriously old!!! :) ~Chris Cooper

    1. Google "Oh Babe," Chris. A great song from a truly strange voice. You'll love it!


Thanks for reading,and thanks for your comment!