Nostalgia is Weird

Sometimes looking back into the past can be a strange thing.

On my laptop, I have thousands of songs. Literally. I have something like 4500 songs on my laptop, of all different genres and eras and of massively uneven quality. Many of them I have for a reason. Possibly not a good reason, but there’s something that twigs a memory or reminds me of something, and no matter how bad a song may be, I have reason to keep it. Many of the songs are wonderful. A lot are cringe-worthy.

So today, as I am puttering around the kitchen doing… well, STUFF, really… I am listening to music on my laptop. And as I go through the songs, I am updating the files, cleaning things up. And if there’s no redeeming quality to a song, I am deleting it altogether.

Just a few moments ago, with the random-y shuffle-y feature on in iTunes, a song from the 70s came up. “Don’t Pull Your Love” by a (presumably) one-hit wonder group called Hamilton, Joe Frank, & Reynolds. Many of you will have no idea what that song is or who the band is. Probably just as well. But some of you will know the song. (Tena, I bet you know this one!) And some of you are either humming right now, or fighting the retch.


I have a few songs from the early 70s in my collection. I was just beginning to discover music back then, with 2 older sisters who were becoming teenagers. There was always music in my house. And many of the songs from the very early 70s I remember from long car trips with my family. We’d often times drive places and then camp along the way, because it was cheaper for a family of 5. But during those long, hot drives in the Rambler from point A to point B (I had to sit in the middle back, on the hump) there was always a radio playing. And we’d sing along.

“Clap for the Wolfman”. “Beach Baby”. “I Shot the Sherriff”. And, yes, “Don’t Pull Your Love”. Cheeseball songs all. But I loved those times, driving with my family, usually out west to visit my mom’s family, aunties and uncles and cousins.

The car trips stopped after Mom died, pretty much.

But I hear the songs, and they take me back to those days of childhood. And I sing along, cheese or no.

Only today, it was a little different. Sometimes, things trigger memories and feelings and you don’t know why. Today, as I was singing along, I suddenly got this feeling in the pit of my stomach. Kind of a hard, tightening, panicky kind of feeling. Kind of a fear.

Abandonment. Alone.

It doesn’t come often. It hits for a second, a visceral reaction, and then it passes. But it’s as if I am transported instantly to a time when my world got rocked. Changed forever.

I was singing along, and this song was almost done, and suddenly, I felt the panic, like a car screeching to a halt (always in my mind I picture the car on the same highway, in the Black Hills in South Dakota. I love South Dakota, so maybe driving there is the best time I had on those car trips). The feeling that my life would never, ever be the same. Those happy memories would be shut off like a faucet. I felt sick inside for a second.

I had to shut the song off. Maybe another time, Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds.

It’s so weird. It passes just like that. And then I move on.

There’s nothing specific, nothing bad connected to that song in particular. It could be any song. Another song on another day. Just something trips a mental wire and…

Another day, maybe, I’ll listen to that song again, and have absolutely no reaction other than a cheesy grin and singing loudly and badly.

2 thoughts on “Nostalgia is Weird

  1. Oh. My. Dog! Now I have to go get all those songs! Damn you, Time Life music collections!!

    (And for those of you who are Sports Night fans, you’re having a Casey McCall moment now, aren’t you?)

    Ed: I am laughing my arse off reading through all the song lists… and the songs are going through my head and I CANNOT BELIEVE I REMEMBER ALL THE WORDS!

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