Monday, February 4, 2013

It’s Herb Alpert Monday!

When I was six, my younger sister and I both came down with Chicken Pox. And while theoretically I was always glad for a reason to stay home from school for a week and be doted on by my mom, Chicken Pox was soon found to be a less than desirable, itchy, scratchy, miserable affair. 

Not only did we miss school but we weren’t allowed to watch TV because it might harm our eyes. We also had to wear sunglasses in the house, were ordered to stay in bed, and had to put up with hourly head-to-toe slatherings of calamine lotion. Above all we were NOT TO SCRATCH!!! Under any circumstances. Even the welt that was on my eyelid that drove me absolutely batty was off limits. The whole situation was pretty much like being in a six-year-olds version of a North Korean torture camp.

To keep us entertained, and certainly to cut down on the level of whining coming out of our room, mom set up our portable Mickey Mouse record player and some records to listen to. Included in the pile along with “The Yellow Rose of Texas” and “Rain Drops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” was an album by Herb Alpert.

My sister and I immediately found a song we liked on that record called “Rise” and proceeded to listen to it hiss and pop along exactly 332 times over the course of the next few days. 

“Rise” is an instrumental, nacho cheese covered, disco beating piece of awesomeness. It is almost impossible to listen to and not compulsively go strap on a pair of roller skates, find your rainbow leg warmers, don a fuzzy headband and go grooving down a beach boardwalk somewhere. Snapping and clapping as you go. Oh yeah. 

After recovering from the dreaded Pox, you could find me most days wearing my purple hand-me-down spandex unitard with the sparkly words “ROLLER DROME” emblazoned on the front, roller skating in the driveway while listening to old Herb. Sometimes instead of wearing the unitard under my jeans I would snap it over the top of them. I was very fashion forward back then. 

That song was my favorite up until “For the Glory of Love” by Peter Cetera replaced it in the 4th grade. (I have always been a connoisseur of dairy products.) Being replaced, “Rise” made its way to the back of my memory to stay for nearly 25 years. 

Then one fateful day I happened to be rifling through some vinyl LP’s that were in a box at my parents’ house and came across Herb once again. Having gotten over the musical insecurity of my teen and young adult years which had made me lactose intolerant in my musical diet, I dusted it off, put it on the turn table and found myself transported back to a simpler, more innocent version of myself. 

No time was wasted in finding the track on Amazon and downloading it to my MP3 player. Now when it pops up in the shuffle I crank up the volume, call my little Sis, wait for voicemail, and then yell into the phone IT’S HERB ALPERT MONDAY!!!! Or whatever day of the week it happens to be.  Then I let Herb do his magic as her phone records away. 

Cheese is just no good unless you share it with someone. 

“Rise” evokes almost tangible feelings and memories for me about a very particular time in my life. It seems that other songs do the same. I can’t listen to "Teen Spirit” by Nirvana without reliving some of my sixteen year old angst. “Claire de Lune” by DeBussy brings my Grandma back; I can feel her presence and almost smell her perfume as I listen to her favorite piece. What is it about music that is so tied with emotion and memory? 

I’m sure that the official answer has something to do with the region of our brain that captures musical information being tied to the memory center and other such logical fluff. What make sense to me is that music is one of the gifts that God gives to us to help us along. It is so easy to forget the important things like sparkly purple unitards, a grandmother’s perfume, how we agonized over some boy, that He gives us music as a way to store it and bring it back in 3-D. How grateful I am that He does. 

Happy Herb Alpert Monday!



What songs transport you to a different time? And how much of it would do Chester Cheetah proud?


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. This song makes me think of all the times I danced around the living room with the carpet rake. You know "Unchained Melody" brings up so many memories-mostly unpleasant because I am forced to remember what a complete freak I was about poor Joseph Petzinger. Vivaldi's "The 4 Seasons" makes me think of my first few weeks in Russia, since I listened to it all the time while trying not to cry because I was freaked out and emotional. Anything played on the bagpipes (go ahead, scoff) makes me just want to weep, and I've never been able to figure out why. (Aaaand, cue jokes about bagpipes making us all want to cry.) Must be my Scottish heritage. Rusted Root's "Send Me On My Way" makes me choke up because it makes me think of my time at Ricks, and most of it really was so great, in spite of the things that weren't. (My kids can't understand why I get all teary-eyed while watching "Ice Age".) YOu want more? I've got tons! But I'll stop for now. I love how your writing always makes me think back and reflect, even whilst I'm laughing my head off. Keep it up!

  3. My first removed comment looks like I was saying something offensive and you removed it. Haha!

    1. You know me, I am easily offended. :)


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