Since 2016, my weekend hobby is a fun little radio show called “The Vinyl Express” which airs Saturdays and Sundays from 12-2 p.m. EST on Chattanooga’s Big 95.3 FM, and big953.com. I play the hits of the vinyl 45 era (1960s through ’80s), and share the stories behind them.
Music has been a big part of my life since I was 12. That summer, I fell in love with the radio. Like many of you, I vividly remember certain songs. I associate them with people, places and events in my life.
A song can trigger joyful memories. When I hear “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond, I remember boat rides with my dad, because it was on the radio at the time. When I hear the opening cowbell in “Honky Tonk Women” by the Rolling Stones, I remember working at our family store with my cousins Rick and Ronnie Norris. We didn’t get a lot of work done, but we listened to the radio a lot. When I hear “In the Summertime” by Mungo Jerry, it takes me back to summer hikes at Cloudland Canyon State Park, transistor radio attached to my ear.
Of course, songs can also remind us of sad times. I remember sitting in the back of a funeral home hearse with a teen cousin who had lost her dad. She asked the driver to turn on the radio to get her mind off the sadness. Within moments, a song by Mel and Tim came on. The opening lines were, “Starting all over again, is gonna be rough…so rough….but we’re gonna make it.” She started sobbing, and I still think of that moment when I hear that song today.
Recently, I asked listeners to share memories of songs that impacted their lives. Stacie Boyd still loves to hear Electric Light Orchestra songs. She said, “I have great memories of being at Lake Winnie when I was a kid, and all the ELO songs blaring on the speakers throughout the whole park. They make me feel so young again.”
Joel Beaver chose “Wonderful Tonight,” by Eric Clapton. He said, “I danced to it at my junior prom with my dear friend Erin. She died a few years ago and whenever I hear it, I think of Erin and her beautiful smile as we danced underneath a replica of the Eiffel tower during the Bradley Central High School prom.”
Becky White said “The Letter” by the Box Tops is her song. She said, “My best friend in high school went to Vietnam during the war and letters were the only way we could communicate back then. Thankfully he made it home.”
Shawna Sumner said that George Harrison’s “Got My Mind Set On You” is her song. She said, “It takes me back to riding with my daddy in his brown 1980 Ford pickup, checking the fence and the cows. He always had the radio on! I was always a Daddy’s girl and I thought he was the strongest, best man there ever was. I still do.”
“I’d Love You to Want Me” by Lobo is the special song for Nicole Franklin. She said that song was on in the background when her husband proposed to her. Almost thirty years later, she says, “It is still our song.”
Susan Kendall sheds a tear when she hears “Reminiscing” by the Little River Band. She said, “My husband and I looked forward to growing old together so that we could go dancing in the dark, walking through the park and reminiscing, just like it says in the song.” Sadly, their days together ended much sooner than they had planned. She said, “After almost 35 years of marriage, and sticking together through life’s ups and downs, he passed away from cancer. I miss him every single day. Whenever I hear ‘Reminiscing’ it tugs at my heart,” she said.
Julie Livingood said “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge is her special song. She remembers “riding around with my sisters Deborah and Laura hanging out the window and singing along, like sisters do.”
For Stephanie and Daniel Hankins, their song dates back to their wedding day in 1994. Stephanie said, “We wanted to surprise everyone by dancing down the aisle after we were pronounced man and wife. We didn’t even tell the groomsmen and bridesmaids. Our sound guy played the CD, and we started dancing. They all had no choice but to start dancing too.” The song they chose was Carl Carlton’s “Everlasting Love,” with the words, “I need you by my side, girl you’ll be my bride. You’ll never be denied everlasting love.” It worked: they’re still together!
What song is still a big part of your life? Tell me your story at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to feature it in a future column or radio show.