Late summer / early fall of 1978. A mixed bag of events in my life.
A mixed tape masterpiece of music to tag along.
The blockbuster Grease was in the theatres. I saw it three times. Once with friends and a parent chaperone just in case it was too risqué for our young, naive, impressionable minds. And once with each of my two sisters, the poor things. Stuck babysitting me and I probably didn’t let up about how much I wanted to see it again. 32 years later my son starred as Kenickie in his high school play of it. One of my proudest mama moments to date. Today I own two Grease DVDs, one the original movie and one of my son’s school production. And I don’t know how many vinyl, cassettes, and CDs I have worn out listening to the soundtrack.
The wedding of one of my sisters and I was a junior bridesmaid in the ceremony. Next month she will celebrate being married to her high school sweetheart for 37 years. Beautiful. I remember dancing to Bad Bad Leroy Brown by Jim Croce and Thank God I’m A Country Boy by John Denver at the reception. And with a cute boy no less. Today, I own both of the albums those tracks are from. Well, several actually. I have an affinity for the Colorado Poet Laureate and own about a dozen of his albums. My kids say I’m corny. I say I have excellent taste.
And the summer and fall of 1978 were the seasons that Marvin Lee Aday and James Richard Steinman changed my life. They helped save it too as a matter of fact.
Bat Out Of Hell was in its prime, lighting up the Billboard charts with its massive hits. The record held some pretty mature content for a then 8-yr old girl who didn’t know that baseball had anything to do with sex, a topic she really wasn’t all that keen on learning anything about in the first place. And its very title was somewhat controversial for my, at the time, quite religion-oriented life. But despite those two limitations that my mom certainly wasn’t happy about, that album got played in my house over and over and over again. That album helped to save, nurture, and protect an essential part of me: my brain.
Two days after my sister’s wedding, I nearly died. I had just left a friend’s house on my bike and was hit from behind by a car whose driver took off and left me for dead in the street. I was found unconscious in a near-comatose state, with a massive brain injury and severe internal hemorrhaging caused by the rupture of my spleen which had to be removed. I stayed in the hospital for a few weeks and then was nursed the rest of my journey back to health by my mom and other loved ones for a couple of months.
What I recall the most vividly from my time at home was the seemingly ridiculous amount of pills and vitamins I had to take to protect my now compromised immune system, and how awful some of them tasted. But second to that I remember listening to a lot of music and I remember writing a lot of stories, many of which were inspired by my imagination conjuring up the images and backstories to the lyrics of the songs. It’s been known by scientists, doctors, musicians and the like for quite some time now that music can bolster brain functioning. You can go research that topic yourself more in-depth if you’re so inclined, but here are five reasons why it does:
- Music evokes emotions that bring memories.
- Musical aptitude and appreciation are two of the last remaining abilities in dementia patients.
- Music can bring emotional and physical closeness.
- Singing is engaging.
- Music can shift mood, manage stress, stimulate positive interactions, facilitate cognitive function and coordinate motor movements.
And that is why a whole lotta Meatloaf got played in my house during the late summer and early autumn of 1978, among other music from albums, cassettes, and the radio. I’m pretty confident I know every single word to every single track on Bat Out Of Hell. And I know a bunch of other lyrics to songs written by both Meatloaf and his on-again-off-again partner in crime, Jim Steinman. Surprisingly, to me at least, none of the Bat hits took top billing on the charts, and none even broke through Billboard’s top 10. Years later, the duo were able to celebrate a #1 hit with I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That) in 1993. I’m looking forward to hearing some more of their brain boosting music after the release of Braver Than We Are this fall, the newest collaboration of two of the best storytellers I know. Maybe it will be released on my birthday. Wouldn’t that be splendid. Another gift to me from Marv & Jim to help celebrate the life I have today, in no small part thanks to them.
So in response to today’s Daily Prompt, this post highlights some of the music that can transport me back to three different places and times in my life, yet all within just one season of it. And all to songs that still have very special places in my mind, heart, and soul and even in my living room on my $2 yard sale bargain brass 3-tiered vinyl holder.
While I’m obviously a big Meatloaf fan, I have to admit I totally disagree with him on one account. Yeah Meat, two out of three might not be bad, but three out of three is a heck of a lot better. And while I’ve got your attention – thanks for putting the words back into my mouth and my brain so that 37 years later I am able to reflect back on our time together and see that indeed, objects in the rear view mirror may appear closer than they are. A bat out of hell eh? I couldn’t have said it better myself. Thanks for making sure today I can honestly state that it’s all coming back to me now. For crying out loud, for that I hope you know I love you.
“Heaven can wait, and all of the gods come down here just to sing for me,
And the melody’s gonna make me fly, without pain, without fear.”
Heaven Can Wait, track 3 from Bat Out Of Hell
Composed by Jim Steinman & performed by Meatloaf