Friday, June 24, 2011

Stand by me



With a new-to-us DVD of Stand by Me, we made that our Friday night viewing. Neither my son nor I had seen it in at least eight years. With my recent thoughts about childhood and the friends thereof, when the title song began just before the end credits, I saw myself and Kathy at a campfire, singing it, with at least Ben E. King's phrasing if nothing even approaching his voice.

During the previously-mentioned correspondence about fellow classmates, I learned of Kathy's death. We had known each other through all our school years. Three specific memories hovered as the music played. One was my surprise (I can't say why) at her fondness for the song and the fact of our breaking away from whatever was going on at the Girl Scout campfire to immerse ourselves in it for a few minutes. Another was the revelation, made I don't remember how or when, that on the day of any birthday party to which she'd been invited, she would feign illness, stay home and get to keep the present for herself. The third was a party - either her birthday or a Christmas exchange for our troop - at which I'd given her barrettes. Her exclamation on opening the package was, "Barrettes! I hate barrettes."

Not being a 12-year-old boy in rural Oregon in 1959, I could appreciate the story as I watched but not relate the time as they experienced it to anything I knew. Suburban Southern California and parents who would have noticed if several of us had been unseen for more than 48 hours is not comparable coming-of-age material. There seemed no place at which to connect. Until the first distinctive beats of the song. Then the losses, the changes, ground gained only to slip away, came into familiar focus. Time finds a way to roll our stories into one. Tonight, I think I cried for us all.

14 comments:

Angella Lister said...

I'm glad you found a space to cry. I hope it was a good cleansing cry, because we need that sometimes. Love to you.

Erin in Morro Bay said...

Nothing brings it back like music. Just a few bars and I'm at my first junior high dance, the all nighter after graduation, the wedding reception when I already knew I'd made a mistake, the birthing room where the 30 minutes of music looped over and over, that foggy Saturday afternoon, alone in my first apartment (at 50) and know pure happiness and safety, the first dance song at the second wedding...
The soundtrack of our lives- cliche I know, but so true.
Erin

Robert the Skeptic said...

That song does bring back memories. Listening to it on my first (and very expensive) Transistor radio.

Curious I looked up my favorite radio station back when I was a kid, KEWB Channel 91 in San Francisco. It was only in operation 8 years, 1959 to 1966. I found it on the Bay Area Radio Museum web site, of all things.

Radish King said...

This is my son's absolute favorite movie in the world. Something about it gets him in the heart. I love it too. Maybe I can talk him into watching it with me when he gets home. Thank you for all of it, Marylinn.
love,
Rebecca

Radish King said...

And to Erin this the wedding reception when I already knew I'd made a mistake kind of made me gasp. I went through it twice. A recognition deep in my belly. Thank you.

KleinsteMotte said...

Songs are the threads that are woven into us from the cradle forward. Melodies reside in a special part of the brain, away from our daily speech patters. How that is connected to emotions is also interesting. That it blends our experiences together to form us is our web in life.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Angella - It was a good cry. More recent reunion communication, more news of loss. The truth seems to be we have arrived at the time when that will happen too frequently. I can't say that I'm ready. xo

Marylinn Kelly said...

Erin - Not a cliche, because of its truth. And the music plays us through the milestones such as you mentioned, or through eras. It transports. xo

Marylinn Kelly said...

Robert - Thank you for reminding me of my first transistor radio, salmon-colored plastic, about the size of a telephone receiver (maybe wider). Every summer I painted the picket fence around our yard, my transistor inching along with me. No wonder we remember the words to all those songs.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Rebecca - Easy to understand the impact that movie has on young men...my son would hear nothing of my mentioning that some itsy bitsy parts might have been just a tad over-directed...and seeing what an easy, natural gift River Phoenix had makes his loss all the sadder. I hope you got to watch it again together. xo

Marylinn Kelly said...

Rebecca and Erin - Would that I had such insight so soon (I probably did, but what was I going to do? and yes, twice...) Yet here we still are. xo

Marylinn Kelly said...

KleinsteMotte - Music, and I believe, scent do touch different parts of the brain, for I have had similar experiences with a distinctive aroma as with a song. Both have the ability to take us from where we are and drop us in other times, other places. Yes, the strong emotional connection.

Antares Cryptos said...

That was some time ago, but I recall not being able to connect to the movie.

There appears to be a movie posting trend at the moment. If you have any "gems" to recommend, please do. Enjoyed MicMacs, thank you.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Antares Cryptos - I have found, at times, that movies I dismissed on first watching seem to have been transformed into different creatures by the time I give them a second chance. Most memorable example: Robert Altman's "The Long Goodbye." As a Raymond Chandler fanatic, I loathed it at first, everything about it. Watching it some years later, I could appreciate it as Altman, not necessarily Chandler. Revisiting can yield surprises...or not. I will think of some recommendations.