Well yes, I’m always stuck in my own head, that’s how I write. I work it all out in my head before I commit to paper. Not the best way to do it, but I work out the problems I think I’ll have then I write. But the stuck in my head I’m talking about is a song. You know, you’re in a store shopping and on the overhead speaker some song comes on and you start bopping to the tune. Next thing you know you’re walking to your car and now you’re full on singing that same song. I hate that when that happens.
But today, I used this mild annoyance as a writing exercise. It was a song from when I was in high school. After I sang myself horse, I sat down with pen and paper and tried to recall where I was the first time I heard the song and all of the sights and sounds of the day. It was the summer between 10th and 11th grade. It was a Friday night in July. The air was hot and muggy and my friends and I contemplated what to wear to that night’s dance at the community center. Wendy’s parents were gone for the weekend and we had the whole house to ourselves. Shanon was in the kitchen mixing drinks, while I turned on the tv to MuchMusic. I could smell the sweetness of Shanon’s latest concoction as I brought it my lips, she had a thing for blue drinks and this was just the latest in a rainbow cocktails. A warm breeze blew through the screen door. The metal frame tapped as a reminder that we had to go. Outside, the blue sky was fading into burning shades of red and orange as the sun set. A chill filled the air. I could feel the goosebumps popping up on my arm. The mile walk to the dance felt like an eternity, why did I wear heels? After paying our money at the door, we found our way to the dance floor. I took off my heels and felt the cold concrete under my feet. The light from the disco ball caused prisms of color to bounced through the fog. Even though there was a chill in the air outside, the heat from all the bodies inside made the air inside heavy. The DJ called the last song of the night. There is was. The song. My friends has deserted me for dance partners. I sat in the bleachers as he walked over to me. He had finally made it to the dance. He stretched out an arm as an invitation to the dance, a feeble attempt at an apology for being so late. The only saving grace was that it was our song.
That’s what I had written about the song. Memories of a distant past that brought back emotions long forgotten. No recollection of the boy, he’s just a shadow in the memory now, but when it originally happened, my teen heart was in conflict and full of drama. But today as I listen to the song again, I think of the sunset, the sky, the warmth of the air.
This writing exercise made me rethink how I listen to songs and the memories they evoke. So much material to choose from when you consider whose perspective you’re writing about.
Oh, those endless summer nights.