I have this vivid memory from my childhood. My mom had this really old Datsun hatchback. It was painted in just primer. The AC didn't work and there was a hole in the floorboard of the back seat, passenger side. If you lifted up the floor mat, you could see pavement whizzing by underneath the car. If you put your foot through the hole...well, I never tried but I assume you'd lose your leg or be pulled up underneath the car. Because the car had no A/C, we mostly traveled at night when the air was cool. My mom would roll the windows down, blast her music and I would, 99 percent of the time, fall asleep. The long stretch of road between San Antonio and Del Rio, Texas, where there is pretty much nothing but herds of deer lining the shoulder of the dark highway, daring you to hit them. I remember laying back in the passenger seat, window down, staring out at the stars. My mom sat in the driver's seat, singing "Take it Easy" by the Eagles. I would lay there and pretend to sleep...listening to the music and listening to my mom. Feeling the desert air whip through the car.
I was at a venue recently and they started playing the Eagles while we were waiting for the concert to start. I close my eyes and I can see the stars, feel the wind on my face. I can hear my mom singing. Open my eyes and I'm back in McKinney, TX. But the memory is almost tangible. The same feeling of contentedness that I had riding in the car washes over me, more than 25 years later. I've told my mom about this memory and how it's one the happiest and warmest memories from our life together. My mom's reaction was surprise...she would argue that this was one of the toughest times of our life. She was a single mom, struggling to make ends meet. She was going to school, working like...4 jobs, probably (the woman was always working, and she still has never stopped) and trying (succeeding) at giving me a worry-free childhood. Of course, I didn't really understand the circumstances that surrounded us but that didn't matter. Cruising in the Datsun at night, I was completely at peace. You could say...it was a "Peaceful, Easy Feeling."
Music is so incredibly personal. I love music. It moves me, deeply and connects me. To people, places and when I look at my life, different phases have their own soundtrack. Like parts of my life are almost defined by it. Even in my head, all of my memories have a soundtrack and the soundtrack can take me back to that very moment in time in a way nothing else can. A concert, my Dallas apartment, love, heartbreak, friendships...a primer-colored Datsun. I'm reminded of a quote from a Thin Line Fest film I wrote about earlier this year, The Festifull Summer. During an interview with The Flaming Lips, Wayne Coyne says: "Music is a weird thing. I mean, it's very powerful. You hear a song and your life and the song...intertwine. And you give this song more power than it could ever have if it just came from me." I love the concept that our lives intertwine with music in such a personal way that I, personally, give music power. And my experience can't be duplicated by another person's experience with the same music.
I recently asked my mom what she thinks or feels when she hears the same Eagles song now. "Driving at night with the windows down because my car didn't have A/C...feeling like life is good," she said. Oddly, it had never occurred to me that pieces of our soundtrack might be the same. "And also, my first Route 66 road trip. I kissed the Jackson Browne statue on the corner, in Winslow, AZ. That was a fun day," she added. Ok, I wasn't there for that part. But I know that no matter where we are in the world, no matter how far away we are from each other...we can always trust the Eagles to keep us connected, to take us back to those warm nights on the road together. It's part of who we are, together and separate.
Denton has been blessed with an amazing life-soundtrack. Norah Jones, Midlake, Sarah Jaffe, Don Henley...the list goes on and on and on. And just as the Denton music scene continues to grow, so does the heart and soul of Denton. New sounds are added and the soundtrack changes to match the evolution. And as much as we all love the calm, wind in your face starry night road trips part of the soundtrack, aren't we glad the song isn't on repeat?