Not How I Remember It - Oldies & Our REALLY BAD Memories
Welcome to WEEK 205 (Video Episode #31) – 4T is now MUSIC is not a GENRE! Not How I Remember It – 20 Rockin’ Originals (Vol. 2) – (1975) https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLfrAP6IL7DaWOnKPalfOeTDQqNVigdluw
Let’s face it: we forget WAY more than we remember, both as individuals and as a society. That’s no big revelation. But I’ll go even further and say we MISremember far more than we recall accurately. We are all our own little life chroniclers, each with a unique story of the world. And unless some awesome sci-fi imaginings (such as Ted Chiang’s “The Truth of Fact, The Truth of Feeling”) come true, this will always be the case.
With music, you’d think it would be easier to accurately remember a song. NOPE. The only thing that’s easier is you can look it up and find out how on or off your memory is. That’s what happened with this week’s double album, 20 Rockin’ Originals (Vol. 2). I listened through it while I was creating the above playlist, and my brain divided the songs into three categories: 1. Songs I have little to no memory of or interest in (e.g. “A Rose and Baby Ruth”); 2. Songs I remember vividly, whether I liked them (“Earth Angel”) or not (“Hey Paula”); and 3. Songs I like and know well, but remember them very differently (“Silhouettes”).
Of the 20 songs here, slightly more than half were in categories 1 & 3. Why? At base, the human memory function is highly subjective and faulty. On top of that, the time between an occurrence (such as hearing a song) and any point in the future is full of other occurrences that overwrite the original. Cover versions. Live versions. Versions that live in only in the memory. Even with corrective media like recordings & films & written accounts, we’re fighting a losing battle. And that’s totally okay.
For me, overwriting is huge. When I listened to “We Ain’t Got Nothin’ Yet”, it sounded SORT OF RIGHT, but not quite. Once I (re)discovered that Deep Purple used the same riff in a song, I knew my memory of these two tunes had merged into one that only exists in my head. When I listened to “Silhouettes”, I had to seek out every cover version. There were MANY. Only problem: none of them sounded right. And that’s because the version I have in my head is the one my dad sang hundreds (thousands?) of times at his gigs, one I’d often join in on. I swear he used a minor IV for the second chord, and none of the recorded versions did that.
Of course, I could be WRONG ABOUT ALL OF THIS. That’s the whole point. Perfect example – I had to check my self-honesty after writing that I didn’t like “Hey Paula”. I don’t particularly like it NOW, but I vaguely remember liking it when I was a kid. Memory is a slippery freakin’ thing.
Oh and the music itself? It’s a decent collection of mostly second tier doo wop songs, with some soundalike bands (The Hondells = The Beach Boys, Tommy Roe = Buddy Holly) and outliers (“Walk Away, Renee”, “We Ain’t Got Nothin’ Yet”) thrown in. Volume 1 came out in 1973 (god all the 1970s nostalgia for the 1950s was INSANE) and was slightly stronger collection, though oddly also containing the Tommy Roe song (I smell payola). Doo wop was huge in my upbringing, not least because my dad was an early second/third tier rock n roll star himself, and sang it his whole life. I loved harmonizing with my dad (and my brother and friends), and still do. Harmonies have always been HUGE in my work. Too many songs to cite here, so I’ll go with one that’s from one of my new EPs. It ain’t doo wop AT ALL, but the background vocals are vividly reminiscent:
“Final Call” - https://youtu.be/iY_OjNMfZDo
Have you ever re-heard a song and thought that’s not how you remember it sounding? Do you like old rock n roll, or did you get kinda burned out by it years ago like me? Discuss dammit!