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by Rikki
Rated: 13+ · Essay · Cultural · #1838251
Songs mentioning 'my' places have special memories. Odd memories, perhaps, but mine.
Listening to the radio as I worked last night, I was reminded how songs that mention ‘home places’ are somehow a little extra special. Starbuck’s ‘Moonlight Feels Right’ (1976) was on the radio when I got back into the truck. I arrived just a moment before the line “I’ll take you on a trip beside the ocean and drop the top at Chesapeake Bay.” It brought back memories. One night in particular when the entire gang ( and then some) were hanging out in Deale Island, Md.,  drinking and swimming and generally having a good time.  Deale Island isn’t really an island; it’s a peninsula, so there are fresh water tributaries running into the Chesapeake Bay. It was in one of these that we were swimming. All of a sudden, one of the guys on shore hollered  “everybody outta the water”, and a dozen or so dripping bodies burst out of the water like trained seals.

Since we weren’t where we were supposed to be, or more aptly, since we were where we weren’t supposed to be, everyone assumed the yell was a police alert, hence the prompt evacuation. No police, something of more immediate concern – water moccasins. Water moccasins are nasty vipers with nasty attitudes. Like copperheads, they will attack without provocation to defend their nesting area. Water moccasins are dark; they blend in with the water, especially at night. Their bite is miserably painful, and their venom rots the flesh. Few people die from the bites, but death is possible. Thanks to the moonlight and the sharp eyes of one of the guys, we escaped unharmed. Moonlight Feels Right was playing on the radio at the time. Every time I hear this song, I see a snapshot of that night. There are places that have many songs; Dallas, New York, Chicago, L.A., San Francisco, etc. The Chesapeake Bay only has the one that I know of.

While I was living in Dallas, a song that always amused me was Steely Dan’s “My Old School.” There is one line that says “California tumbles into the sea, that’ll be the day I go back to Annandale.”  I agreed, completely, though I expected Cali to fall long before now. It was California’s ‘tumbling’ that moved me off the west coast and into Dallas. Anyway, I had lived in Annandale briefly and while it was okay, the traffic was insane and I had no desire to go back. Even in the early Eighties, getting on the Capitol Beltway during rush hour meant wasting your life away. I’d just crank up the radio and sing, and marvel at the people who pulled over to wait it out.

Along side the road – at that time four lanes each direction packed bumper to bumper with vehicles – the intrepid would pull over, pull out a lounge chair, and read a book. I was tempted to join the shoulder sitters, but I never did. Every time I heard “My Old School,” I would remember the drive home from work, and sing ‘never going back’ with gusto. I am a die-hard Steely Dan fan. ‘Any Major Dude’ saved my sanity when I did come back from Dallas, but that tale is told elsewhere.

Dallas, of course, has numerous song mentions. My favorite is “Dallas, too close to New Orleans” from The Grateful Dead’s Truckin’. I just think that’s funny because they are worlds apart psychologically, and nothing is close to anything in Texas. Close means it took less than an hour to get there. It’s hard for me to pick a Dallas song that has actual Dallas memories attached. Nearly every one I knew in Dallas was in the music business somehow, so I was surrounded by music. I associate almost as much music with Dallas as I do with growing up in Maryland. I had a helluva lot of fun in Texas. Ask me someday and I’ll tell you about the Big Shoe and the Rain of Frogs. That was one strange weekend….

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