It Was a Very Good Year

I don't know, maybe everybody does this.

When I hear a song on the radio, and it is from my youth or young adulthood—I call out loud the year in which it was released. Even if nobody is in the room, like I do the answers on Jeopardy. James Taylor's Fire and Rain—that would be 1970. The same with Elton John's Your Song. Carole King's Tapestry album—1971. I did it the other night with Sinatra's Let Me Try Again, which came out in 1973. And I know that Joe Cocker's song, You Are So Beautiful was released in 1974.

The music that was our favorite during our coming of age years usually remains our favorite throughout our lifetime. Pop songs, as well as Christian music, too (the hymns I know by memory now, I learned as a teenager in youth choir).

I can date particular songs by the experiences I was having when they were first popular. The girls I was dating at that particular time. Cocker's song, for example, came out when my love for Audrey was just beginning. Carole King's album when I was selling records at Montgomery Ward's during my senior year of high school.

I remember the exact moment in 1967 when my friend, Sandy Saunders, showed me the Beatles new album, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. He told me it was the most creative rock album ever recorded and, looking back now, it might have been just that.

Music is one of the ways I mark time and put down reference points. Big and tragic events do the same. Like 9/11 did for my son's generation. The Kennedy and King assassinations, for baby-boomers like me.

For children growing up now it will surely be the Coronavirus pandemic. The year 2020 will be one of the defining years of their lives, even if they live to be a hundred. How could it not? Other events on their timeline will be placed before, during, or just after the year when everything was turned upside down, and life itself seemed to screech to a halt.

But there are other experiences that are indelible in our individual minds. Key moments that are so consequential, we can never forget them.

For me, the day I gave my life to Christ (September 10, 1967), for example. The day God called me to full-time Christian ministry was another (July, 1968). The Sunday night I first laid eyes on the young college girl who would one day be my wife (September, 1974)—and I think I actually knew in that moment that my life had changed and would never be the same again.

What thoughts and emotions can flood when you hear a certain song, watch an old movie, or even smell a distinctive fragrance. You haven't thought about it in a long time but then suddenly you are transported back to another time and place. Pay attention to your life, listen to it, as one of my favorite writers, Frederick Buechner says. Look for the special, the romantic, the sweet—but also for the holy--in every day you live.

In a way, most of those moments are just that—holy. And, if you can attach them to a certain song, you will have them with you, in your heart, for the rest of your life.




no categories


no tags