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Nostalgia: Or How I Justified a Night In Watching Barry Manilow

Nostalgia is a huge part of growing up. I talked about it vis a vis my re-reading of Peter Pan the other day, and I’ll have more to say about...

Nostalgia is a huge part of growing up. I talked about it vis a vis my re-reading of Peter Pan the other day, and I’ll have more to say about it on this blog another day.

Today, however, let me address one tiny sliver of the nostalgia theme that’s been on my mind lately: the nostalgia inspired by music.

It all began when my husband suggested that we watch a Barry Manilow concert on television the other night.

Before you click away from this blog in disgust, allow me to defend myself. Yes, I admit that he can be horribly cheesy. And I wouldn’t ever call myself a “fan,” despite an abiding fondness for Copacabana…(have a look at this video and tell me you’re not already singing along. I’m a sucker for the part where Lola loses her mind). In all seriousness, though, the man knows how to tell a story.

But this isn’t about Barry Manilow. It’s about that special feeling of nostalgia that’s engendered by hearing a song from your past that means something to you, or calls to mind a particular moment when you were growing up.

Yesterday, the London website Alpha Mummy was up in arms over an outrageous Mother’s Day marketing ploy by British supermarket giant Sainsbury’s – the store is marketing a CD called 101 “Housework Songs” (Mother’s Day is celebrated this Sunday in the U.K.). In response, Alpha Mummy posted a hilariously clever “Top 10 Songs to Listen to While you File a Letter of Complaint to Sainsbury’s.” While I thoroughly enjoyed the post, I was also amazed at how many of the song lyrics they referenced I could recite by heart. Because they take me right back to…ya know…the old days.

And then I stumbled across this website, aptly named Songs You Used to Listen To, where each day brings you a new song from the past.

The point is: it doesn’t really matter how you define your musical “moment.” Mine is somewhere around the early 1980s. If I’m in a supermarket and hear something like Come On, Eileen or Land Down Under or Don’t You Forget About Me, I actually stop whatever I’m doing and allow myself to be transported back to that era and all it symbolized for me personally (my first boyfriend, leaving high school, getting into college, etc.)

And that’s the beautiful thing about music. So, hey, don’t you forget about me…

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