Songs from the seventies remind me of being a socially awkward kid in our California suburb--a fish-out-of-water (or country girl stuck in the city.) I hear The Hollies or Electric Light Orchestra or old Fleetwood Mac and think about my cool older sister (and her boyfriend), who always knew what to say and how to make people laugh.
Play Journey or Styxx or Kansas and I think about my teenage years, about my own boyfriends and the angst-ridden (and mistake-plagued) years between fifteen and nineteen.
There's a strange gap between nineteen and twenty-nine, almost as though my internal music stopped.
Could've been the drinking, I suppose. Or being married for the wrong reasons.
But at twenty-nine both of those situations changed, and I heard the music again: Alanis Morrissette, Melissa Etheridge, Jewel.
When I hear Natalie Merchant, I think about getting married again, and about holding my newborn babies and crying because I loved them so much it hurt.
In the mid-2000's, music became a symbol of my rebirth as a whole person, separate from my identity as a wife/mother/veterinarian. I picked up the guitar again after thirty years, gave myself the gift of once-weekly lessons, learned to sing (sort of), and even performed a few times.
I still play and sing (mostly for myself.) But one of my favorite things now is mining for odd or underplayed music that captures the mood of whatever story I'm writing. Right now I'm working on a mystery where San Diego homicide detective Samantha Benning is taunted by a serial rapist who claims to know what happened to Sam's missing sister. As you might guess, the tone is pretty dark.
Here's a partial playlist:
Rolling Stones--Gimme Shelter (Not exactly B-side, but great shit-hits-the-fan music)
Pearl Jam--Of the Girl
Grace Potter and The Nocturnals--Nothing But the Water (get ready to be blown away!)
I'm sure your life has a soundtrack, too. What's on your playlist?