Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Those Feel-Good Memories

Every once in a while, the Militant will flip radio stations, and a song from The Militant's youth will invariably cause him to stop what he's doing and evoke a memory from the past.

Perhaps the best example of such a song is Chuck Mangione's 1978 archetypal Smooth Jazz anthem, "Feels So Good." It's a familiar flugelhorn-laden melody (Fact: 94.7 The Wave is legally required to play it at least four times each day), which was recently re-introduced into pop culture as a running gag on the FOX animated TV series, King Of The Hill, but for The Militant, it has an even deeper meaning.

Every time The Militant hears this tune, he feels like a kid, riding in a car with his family, and discovering exotic new places like Downtown Los Angeles, on a warm summer Sunday evening. See, when you're a kid, your universe consists of more or less two places: home and school. Concepts like "community" or even "city" don't even register yet. So this song was basically one of the soundtracks to The Militant's proto-militant urban discoveries.

And it's no accident that this song was recorded right here in the City of Angels, at the A&M recording studios (Now the Jim Henson Studios, and formerly Charlie Chaplin's studio) on La Brea Avenue in Hollywood (most famously known for the recording of 1985's "We Are The World").

Speaking of A&M, the "A" in the name, Herb Alpert, another brass instrumentalist, also recorded a huge instrumental hit in the late '70s, called "Rise" (1979).

Like the Mangione song, it reminds The Militant of his early Angeleno discoveries, most notably going down Wilshire Blvd on a warm Summer evening (what is is about those warm Summer evenings?) with the shops and streetlights providing a visual show the young Lil'Mil had never seen before.

Dad, can we stop by Zody's and buy me a TIE Fighter? Huh? Please Dad?

Oh...sorry, The Militant got a little carried away there, heh.

There was also something about those two songs being instrumental that added to their magic. There were no lyrics or vocal tone to dictate the meaning or feeling of the songs. Just the vibe, ya dig? Perfect selections in the soundtrack to The Militant's life, and probably some of yours as well.

[begin old fogey mode]
They certainly don't make songs like those anymore...
[end old fogey mode]

Anyways, for those of you who grew up here in Los Angeles, what are the songs that instantly remind you of your youth, and associated memories of life here? Please post and share in the comments!


angel said...

OK, you have me.

For us, Herb Albert has always been our traveling music, the addition many years later of the song Highway 101, just solidified that fact, at least in my mind. I can never hear that music, without feeling the excitement one gets at the start of a trip.

As a member of the Moody Blues said many many years ago (I think he was discussing Nights in White Satin) "Music Aids Memory". It is so true.
Enjoy your memories. :-)

Anonymous said...

Small correction: the former A&M is on La Brea, not Highland.

Militant Angeleno said...

Anonymous: La Brea Right. The Militant knew that, of course. He must be getting old. After all, if one of your childhood anthems is a '70s brass instrumental, then that must indicate age right there.

The next MA Blog Post will feature the retirement communities of Los Angeles...

schmog said...

I've only seen two of your posts & am already hooked on your site.

Anonymous said...