Yesterday, I was alphabetizing thousands of dusty 45s. Some had gorgeous, shiny picture sleeves - a young and dashing Johnny Cash, Heart in their big-haired, shoulder-padded 80's splendor. Most looked like they were well-loved in their heyday. They had been slotted into jukeboxes, stacked next to stereos, crammed in bookshelves or crates, occasionally used as coasters or Frisbees. And yet, here they were decades later, getting organized, alphabetized.
When dealing with that volume, there are, of course, a few stand-outs.
I was caught off-guard by my reaction to finding Sting's Fortress Around Your Heart in the pile. I read the label, went to file it under 'S', and felt that surge of emotional memory. I was ten years old, inconsolably sad, and that song was on the radio.
Fortress Around Your Heart was released in 1985. My parents divorced that year. I was, in fact, ten.
Later, I was thinking about this musical trigger. Why do certain songs become linked to very specific emotional experiences? I never particularly liked Sting. As a ten year old, I think I was a little confused by this image of building a castle around someone's heart. I pictured Legos. Why this song and not Phil Collins' 1985 release Sussudio, which I also filed yesterday, under 'C'?
I told my husband about my unexpected emotional reaction to a Sting 45, and he shared a similar story. For him, it's Journey's Open Arms, and it also involves divorce.
I followed up with one more, also from 1985: Stevie Wonder's Part Time Lover always reminds me of Children of the Corn. I think I heard it while riding in the backseat of the gold Crown Victoria, returning the video rental, which I turned off midway through, because Malachai was far too scary for a ten year old.
That song still makes me feel scared and a little fragile.