This last weekend I attended one of the most joyous events in my life, my brother’s 80th birthday celebrations.
All the children of Clinton and Eileen Alleyne, all six of us as we now are, gathered up North to share the legacy of love our parents have bequeathed to us. It was awesomely beautiful and my FB page carries some of the images of the good time had by all.
The reason I’m mentioning it here is that when we gathered for lunch on Sunday, I had to reflect on what a significant part music plays as the backdrop to our lives.
So many of the songs played had special meaning for not only my brother, but for many in the full house. A snatch of Toots and The Maytals immediately took my brother-in-law back to student days at Mona, while By the Rivers of Babylon had my brother recalling his days at Mona as well.
Think about it. If you recall a significant event in your life, chances are there is a piece of music that goes along with it, whether the memories are good or bad. I myself never hear Yellowman’s I’m Getting Married in the Morning without an acute sense of embarrassment, all due to an unwanted memory. And no, there’s absolutely no chance I’ll share it with you; and I’m not sorry about that either.
Especially in one’s youth, music marks so many things. I never hear Sahani Raat by The Rhythmaires of Guyana without remembering a girl with whom I had what I thought was an accomplished turn around the dance floor. When the song was over, she said: “Thanks for the walk.” I tellin you, iffen I wasn’t a strong yout’, that would have floored me. But we Philippians are made of sterner stuff than that, so I survived.
A good friend of mine will never forget Archie by The Merrymen. At a fete in the country, he got too close to the prettiest girl in the village, whose partner did not at all appreciate my friend’s gyrations on his girl. He then introduced a beer bottle to the head of my friend, who ended up as if Archie had brek him up, not dem.
So even without recognising it, we slot music into our memories and they become inseparable. I’m sure Barack Obama will never again hear At Last without remembering his dance with Michelle at his inauguration, while Beyonc? crooned the tune. If he has another debate like the first one, he’ll really need to hold on to that memory.