‘Do you mind if I play that one more time?’ I ask. Again.
He smiles indulgently and I don’t wait for an answer.
Skip back. Play.
‘Over You’ by Daughtry.
It’s a beautiful winter night. Snowflakes glitter like diamonds in the glow of streetlamps. My right cheek pressed against the frozen glass aches in a mix of pleasure and pain. The styrofoam coffee cup warms my hands. There is nothing ahead of us and nothing behind us except long stretches of icy road. And nothing on the sides but never ending fields of pristine snow. We pass a lonesome diner. The flashing neon sign throws bright pink patterns on his hands. We don’t say a word. The song ends.
And I’m brought back to reality.
A scorching Sunday in Colombo. I’m traipsing absently down a supermarket aisle.
It’s the same Daughtry song playing on the store radio.
Back in the winter of 2007, I drove through the night across two states, to get to Chicago with a friend. And I was obsessed with that song. He swears I played it 23 times before the trip was over. And we joked about how appropriate the title was. Now, every time I hear this song I think of that long drive. I can almost feel the cold and smell the cigarette smoke around me.
Isn’t it funny what a song can do?
How it can evoke so many memories. I have this habit of unconsciously associating songs with people, places or situations. Listening to a random song on the radio can suddenly shake up a kaleidoscope of memories. A face, fragments of a conversation, the touch of a hand, laughter, love and even pain. Some recollections are so stark and vivid in detail while some don’t even make sense.
A rather cynical song by the Eagles reminds me of a trip I took with some friends and ‘The time of your life’ by Green Day ironically reminds me of a death in my family. There is a song about a soldier that still gives me goose bumps, because it reminds me of a friend in the US army who was sent to Iraq during the worst of times. A Moody Blues song has the power to recreate this magical hour on the Negombo beach last November. I sat on the shore with someone looking up at the stars. And I can almost hear him say ‘once beneath the stars, the universe was ours’. Songs off a recent musical stirs up emotions I can’t even explain. The Fire Inc. song reminds me of Monday morning assembly in school while anything by Katie Melua makes me think of my best friend. Enya takes me to Unawatuna and GnR takes me to 1991.