Monday, June 10, 2013

Music at 3AM...

My parents took with them, on weekend camping trips in some old trailer, a black and white television, battery operated, that had a nine inch screen.  It had an antenna (which I broke off, as usual), and they used it for watching whatever football game was on.  It also had a radio, which was why, after we moved to Georgia, they put it in my room so I could have the radio on at night. I listened almost exclusively to Fox 97.1, the "oldies" station, which like so many of the good radio

stations, have now disappeared with the invention of mp3 files.  People just don't like the idea of randomness anymore.  And while that gives them control, it prevents them from finding something they like accidentally. On a sidebar, that also is much like shopping Amazon instead of going to an actual bookstore.  You never get to glimpse an interesting cover or book out of the corner of your eye, to suck you in, open you up to entire new worlds and authors.  It's the similar thing for radio stations, as you might never here the amazing singers out there because, with control, you might listen to the same 4 artists over and over again.  I must admit, I'm quite guilty of that now, and I miss being at Borders and discovering new (or old) artists and their music.

But I digress.  So I would have Fox 97 on all night, and I remember songs filtering into my dreams, and I would be, in dreamland, singing a song, and then I woke up and heard the same song on the radio.  There are songs that I associate with 3 in the morning, songs I never heard except in the middle of the night.  This is normal, for a song to transport you back to a place and time that you heard it first. I've talked about Heart's song "These Dreams," reminding me of sitting in a doctor's waiting room, with all the colors and sights and sounds of that room.

There are colors in music.  I can see them, in my mind's eye.  Sure, the artist says the word "red," and the song becomes red, but also if they say "rose," with all the archetypes and meaning that the color red (love, life, blood) and the rose (love, death, aging, beauty, pain) brings with it.  The music itself does the same thing.  Listen to the William Tell Overture, the first part, before the Lone Ranger theme, and you'll vision greens and yellow and peacefulness and spring.  Or Mahler's 9th Symphony, and there's themes of sadness, blues and grays, blacks and minor chords.  The same thing goes for the songs I heard at 3AM through my little TV/Radio in my room.  Later, I brought in a boom box, and put in a cassette so I could record the songs I liked off the radio.  I had a ruler pressed on the pause button (the record button was already pressed), and so if I heard a song I liked, I used the ruler from my bed to hit the pause button, and it would record the song.  Now, with Spotify and other mp3 platforms, none of that is necessary.  Think on it, no more cassettes filled with different songs, most of them with the first couple seconds of the songs chopped off, but that was okay, because it brought back those memories of hearing the songs.

To the music, then, only a few.... For some reason, all the songs with "Georgia" in the title are night songs.  Ray Charles' version of our state song is a night song because PBS used to play it before they went off the air, at midnight.  Course, now they don't do that anymore.  No station plays the national anthem, because they never go off the air.  Also, "Midnight Train to Georgia," and "Rainy Night in Georgia" also qualify.  The latter especially if it's raining (which it does with increasing frequency nowadays.


Most of the songs I hear as 3AM songs are melancholy, usually in minor chords, like "Brandy" by the band Looking Glass.  A song of the sea, of a love far away.  Also, "Does Anyone Really Know What Time It Is?" by Chicago.  The sounds are similar.  For some reason, Petula Clark's "Downtown" also falls into this category, of a place where everything's going to be okay, where "people understand you," the soothing words when life just doesn't seem to be going well, and night time, you are by yourself, alone, and the words are needed.


Music is more vibrant, more poignant, in the middle of the night, when there's no other stimuli to get in the way.  It becomes a companion, a stream of notes and colors and images and emotions that wrap around you and keep you safe.  Just you and the radio, at 3AM.


1 comment:

  1. A very well written, well thought out post, as usual!
    Funny, I was JUST thinking of how the public stations would go off at midnight and how somehow, I found it comforting that they would do that. (Like the sun going down, you know it will rise again in the morning, I suppose.)
    Our son was born in 1989 and Fox 97 was always on in our house. He was a baby and toddler and small child with those oldies and even as much as he likes all different kinds of music, he has no qualms about letting people know how much he repects the kind of music that his parents like!