I Can Run Through the Gamut of My Entire Life.
I play a computer game called Song Pop. It’s a game that supplies short clips from songs, and requires me to guess the song from the clip. I’m given a choice of four songs or artists and I try to guess the one that’s correct. Since I memorized every song I heard for nearly three decades, this is mostly fun for me.
My favorite thing about Song Pop is that each song I recognize represents something – and usually transports me instantly back to my youth.
For example, I hear three seconds of “Let It Whip” and I am instantly transported to parties after work at an amusement park, where I’d squeal uncontrollably and fly onto the dance floor. Or I hear two seconds of “You’re So Vain” and suddenly I am lounging on the scratchy white-and-gray couch in my parents’ house, playing my dad’s Carly Simon albums on the old console stereo. Or I hear five seconds of “With Arms Wide Open,” and I’m once again pregnant and simultaneously sobbing and singing as I drive home from work in my little blue Mazda.
I can run through the gamut of my entire life in 30 seconds. It’s wonderful! But recently I had an experience that sent me into some kind of emotional Song Pop tornado.
I heard about three seconds of a Bee Gees song – “Too Much Heaven.”
My Song Pop choices, however, suggested that it might be “Donny Osmond.” At the height of his popularity, Donny Osmond – with his prepubescent voice – sounded a lot like the Bee Gees.
My emotions suddenly and temporarily imploded.
Because when I was eight years old, Donny Osmond was my whole world – well, except for the rest of the Osmond family. I played Osmond albums over and over, singing along and staring at Donny’s puppy-dog eyes. I knew the whole world loved Donny. So, as only an eight-year-old can, I truly believed that someday I would grow up and marry Jimmy Osmond, because we both had freckles.
When I hear a clip of an Osmond song, I am instantly transported to sitting cross-legged on my bedroom floor listening to my plastic turntable for hours on end. These are some of the happiest flashbacks from my childhood, so I love getting Osmond clips on Song Pop. It’s one of those things that takes me back so fast, I forget how old I am now.
But the song I actually heard in this incident was by the Bee Gees. I saw the name “Donny Osmond,” sending me into a tailspin, but I knew that wasn’t right.
“Too Much Heaven” was the number one song in the country when I was 15. I was a devastated teenager. When “Too Much Heaven” played – and it played a lot – I retreated into a depression so deep, I could have cried. But I was too angry to cry, so I would sink into a funk that could last for the length of the song, or for a month. (I was overloaded with hormones, so I never knew what would happen.) I flashed back to days of sulking on the floor of my bedroom closet, doors closed and providing a darkness to match my mood.
And that was the complete opposite of my childhood Osmond experience. So when I heard “Too Much Heaven” and saw “Donny Osmond,” my brain whipped from childhood ecstasy to depression, and back, and down – and I was lost in a sudden sort of memory fog.
Then I clicked “Bee Gees.”
And thankfully, I returned to the present.