PROMPTuesday #42: Remember When?

Music — such lyrical salve. My cell nuclei thrums to beautiful, raw words set to pounding — or rolling — melody, and my white light positively beams at live shows, where I sit somewhere close to the amplifier, each piece of skin, bone, plasma, pulsing, exploding. I bear witness to a singer’s true face, soul laid molten, and I’m vinegar and butter, thinking I wish we all had to sing our stories. The world would be a better place, I’m telling you. Sing, and all pretense sheds. We’re connected. Never is it projected so clear as by the light of the music that binds us.


Headphones on, in the front row, watching from the sidelines: absorbing music’s honesty, its purity…in that listening moment, I am whole. Only that moment.


So far.


My music chronicles life. I hear songs from high school and I’m instantly back to moments when its cadence marched through buzzing car speakers, or blared through party radios. Not only that, I’m physically returned to the boys I loved, and the cupcakes I ate. I recall textures, patterns; the coarse feel of my blue and white uniform skirt, the shadow of a trellis shimmering on a patio, a train’s vibration rocketing past scorched hills. A plane dropping me, trembling and drunk, at the Arctic wooden foot of my mother’s death bed.


These songs marked my DNA along the way, pressed bold, sometimes painful imprints — and the memories they leave are tangled like driftwood in my brain stem. Dear God, how they wrap, bind, burn. And don’t they?

Don’t they.


I want to know about your songs. What brings you back to a pivotal moment? Or an everyday moment you’ll remember forever? Tell me a drop of your life as crystallized by a Top 40 hit, a Broadway number, a dirge. Truly, I yearn to hear about your treasured vignettes as measured by harmony. What song transports your body, soul, mind? Where were you? Was there something playing in the background when you said goodbye? When he or she said goodbye? What harmony unfurled its misery/joy/bittersweet across your life’s landscape?


I hope that will be enough to lead you.


And so where did you go?


No rules today.


Meanwhile, here’s what PROMPTuesday is. Here’s what it was.


Now please write for me. “I want to go to there.”


22 Responses to “PROMPTuesday #42: Remember When?”

  1. tinsenpup says:

    That’s a hard one. I’m not sure I want to go there, but I’ll give it a try as soon as I have time and I’ll come back and let you know how I went.

    I just really wanted to tell you right now that that there is some truly spectacular writing, you San Diego Momma, you. You’re always good, even when you’re saying you’re not, but that up there is something else again. Whatever you’re doing, do more of it and then send some to me.

  2. stoneskin says:

    Where did I go? Nowhere. But when I listen to ol’ Jimmy Hendrix I go back to the days when we would cruise into college with All Along the Watch Tower thumping out and I love the flashback.

  3. g says:

    I’m at a business conference, so I’m cheating by reposting an older post – but your PROMPT immediately made me remember why and how I wrote this – and it truly is about “a drop of my life as crystallized” by a song. (Cheri’s already read this. thanks for the earlier comment, Cheri!)

  4. g says:

    I’m at a business conference, so I’m cheating by reposting an older post – but your PROMPT immediately made me remember why and how I wrote this – and it truly is about “a drop of my life as crystallized” by a song. (Cheri’s already read this. thanks for the earlier comment, Cheri!)


  5. Steph says:

    Hold on. This is a PROMPTuesday I might have to do.

  6. I’m pretty sure I can’t write about it completely without weeping, but U2’s Achtung, Baby is a start-to-finish soundtrack for a phase in my life that still feels unshakeable, despite the distance between now and then. I can only listen to it when I’m alone.

  7. Karen says:

    Here’s my contribution:

    This one really strikes a chord with me (pun not intended but fortuitous!). One of the last projects I helped my daughter with was writing a soundtrack of your life essay for Honors English. So not only do I have the memories the songs bring to mind, I also have a clear memory of working with her on that project which so closely parallels this one. Thank you for bringing that memory back to me.

  8. Well, “Don’t Dream It’s Over” by Crowded House takes me back to college. My future husband and I had driven from Santa Cruz to San Mateo for my roommate’s big rainbow girl ceremony in Ken’s old car that had a big fat hole in the roof and iffy headlights if I remember. (Ken was from Southern California and wanted a convertible, so he took a can opener, cut up his Subaru and made his own…didn’t factor in Northern California rains). The car wouldn’t start on the way back. We left it with a big container of KFC which we later heard was consumed by the neighborhood cats. We walked across the street to the railroad tracks with our friend Thao, and hunkered down in a Chinese restaurant until my parents came to get us. This is how that call went, “Mom and Dad. Ken’s car broke down, can you come and get me? Otherwise I can get a hotel room with Ken and Thao.” I was eighteen, their choice was clear :).

    The other one is Jessie’s Girl. It was the song that my ex loved and it was playing in his car for most of my visit to Southern California to attend his prom. He broke up with me on the way to the airport…nice! Later listening to the lyrics I’m pretty sure he had a crush on his best friends girl. I didn’t really have a chance.

    Ah youth!

    The last on is “Kiss Me” by Six Pence None the Richer. I remember dancing wildly to it when my son was about two and a half, just grabbing him up and swinging him around. It is a very precious memory.

  9. San Diego Momma,

    This is San Diego Writer Girl talking.

    My goodness – I’m in awe of your “kickassedness.” Love your blog. To answer your question…I hadn’t heard The Moody Blues in 25 years. Tripped over it on a music site. Took a listen and suddenly I was in the front seat of my boyfriend’s maroon Duster, parked at a dead end street, making out. We’d pause at the verse, “I’m looking for [pause] someone to change my life.” We’d stare into each other’s eyes as if to say, “That’s us they’re talking about.” Great writing. Look forward to reading more!

  10. Jennifer says:

    You’re writing is amazing. Music has the same effect. The melodies just raise goosebumps all over. The beats create constant motions in my mind and feet. I know I have deeper and more emotional connections to music but the first memory to spring to mind was of a 5th grade party. I don’t recall for what occasion the 3 classes were gathered together for but it was the first time I heard, “The Sign” by Ace of Base. I can clearly picture every kid in that class. And instantly I’m transported into a million memories that were made with each one of my class mates. Every time when I hear that song a new memory resurfaces of a kid I knew back then. It was the year many of us would be together. We’d be split by 2 Jr. Highs and class schedules. It was still a time of innocence and fair play but little dramas were slowly starting to stir as we grew more into the tween years. I still love that song, more now for the memories.

  11. Blognut says:

    My music post is up at

    Thanks Deb! You rock as usual. Now I’m off to see what everyone else wrote.

  12. bejewell says:

    I do musical flashback posts all the time, because different songs ALWAYS take me back to specific points in time. I can’t pick just one, I love them all — in fact, they are one of my favorite things about my blog. Here’s the category page, take your pick.

  13. Da Goddess says:

    Boy, you set it all off for me. Music runs my life. You sure you want me to start writing on this one? Could be dangerous.

  14. […] the memory with Bill and said something like, “I should blog about that.” Then I read this week’s prompt, and bam. Deal […]

  15. […] often professed my real, true and undying love for music. I recall laying in bed with earphones as an angsty […]

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  17. Jack says:

    There are far too many to list- but if you’ll forgive me I’ll provide links to a few:

    They take me back to places I have been, people I have known and loved, experiences that are burned within.

    I have to fight not to include more because music pulls all sorts of thoughts and feelings out of me.

  18. […] oft professed my undying love for music. As an angsty adolescent, I laid in bed with earphones every night, my […]

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