Windows down and head stuck out of an old, red Ford pick up, bumping down the back roads of Saline County. That's the first time I* really remember hearing Don McLean's "American Pie." I'd heard it long before, though, because the reason I remember the moment is that I had one of my many Confused-Lyrics-Questions.
"Byyyyeee, byyyyeee, Ms. America Pie. Drove my chevyyyy to the leveeee, but the levee was dry. Them good ole booooyyys were drinking whiskey and whyyyyyyy…"
Singing comes to an abrupt halt.
"Daddy, what's whiskey and why? And why were they drinking it?"
Ah, parenting moments.
The answer didn't really matter that much; I mostly just wanted clarification for my vowel heavy, high volume sing-alongs with Kool 95. Other lyric screw-ups had been far more entertaining. My parents let me sing "Secret Asian Man" for years because it was funny. (Gold, however, was taken shortly after "The Lion King" came out with my little sister's rendition of Elvis' "Return to Simba.")
The soundtrack of our lives is an interesting and powerful thing - whether you hear songs on their first release or discover them years later. You can pinpoint the moment you heard some. Just after college, the first time I heard Billie Holiday's "Strange Fruit," I sat down and cried. I understood, in a way, the reality of a horror I'd relegated to history books before.
Other especially ubiquitous songs - particularly, in my opinion, those best suited for hairbrush microphone singing and air guitar concerts - take you back to places throughout your life. Can you remember where you were when you first heard Don McLean's "American Pie"? Then, later, screaming it along in the car with friends? At a diner waiting for your order, on hold waiting for important news, in the background of a film? Songs like these are time travel in a score.
And, very fortunately, it's a journey that doesn't end! This fall, on Saturday, Sept. 7, you can hear the American Troubadour himself performing this classic and many more at Robinson Center Music Hall in Little Rock. Tickets can be purchased at aetnfoundation.org/boxoffice to secure your seat but, if you've held onto an "American Pie" musical memory, keep an eye on our Facebook page! You might just find a chance to share and win tickets for two … hint, hint, nudge, nudge.