Tell me if this has happened to you. You’re driving in your car with the radio on, maybe going to work or running some errands, when suddenly you hear a familiar melody and then the lyrics follow and you smile. You smile because you find yourself transported back into a moment in time and you remember, like it was yesterday, when you first heard that song: the friends you had, the person you loved, what was in style, who you were…you get the picture. It’s powerful stuff. That’s how I feel about certain songs and the movies that go along with them. It’s as if someone is playing the soundtrack to my life.
When I was growing up as a kid in New York City in the early 1980s, soundtracks for movies were big. You bought a ticket to the theater, saw a great film and immediately went out to a record store (Sidebar: Record stores…remember those places?) to buy the soundtrack. Then you played that soundtrack over and over again until it became a part of you, singing it with your friends on nights out or slow dancing to them with someone special.
For me, the magic started with Grease. What a great movie! What a great soundtrack! Every young girl wanted to be Sandy and dress up in the tight black leather pants and high heel platform shoes, singing ‘You’re the One That I Want’ to bad boy Danny at a high school carnival. Especially me. From there, it was all about teenage angst and growing pains. From the Breakfast Club and ‘Don’t You Forget About Me’ to St. Elmo’s Fire and the original brat pack, with a Rob Lowe and Demi Moore who never seem to age. And I still can’t think about Pretty in Pink and Molly Ringwald without thinking about the Psychedelic Furs.
Then there are songs that just make you feel happy. There is not a wedding that I have not gone to yet where I haven’t put my finger pointing hands to good use whenever they play ‘Stayin Alive’ by the Bee Gees. Purple Rain brought me Prince and sing out loud ‘Let’s Go Crazy” and Halloween wouldn’t be quite as much fun without Rocky Horror Picture Show’s ‘Time Warp Dance’. Thanks to Kevin Bacon, I can let go with ‘Footloose’ and not care if I can’t really dance.
There are the memorable songs too, the kind forever ingrained in my mind. I will never be able to forget the summer of Jaws and the haunting melody that warned you not to go into the water or hear the first few notes of the Godfather and not crave a cannoli . Then there’s Julia Roberts strutting her stuff on Rodeo Drive as she tries on expensive clothes to the tune of Roy Orbison’s ‘Pretty Woman.’ Where would I be without Tom Cruise and Top Gun and the unforgettable song that gave a new meaning to the term ‘serenading.’ If Maverick ‘Lost That Loving Feeling’, I was more than willing to help him find it. Let’s face it, if ‘Danger Zone’ was every man’s anthem, then ‘Take My Breathe Away’ was it for every woman I knew back when.
Ferris Bueller wouldn’t have the day off that he did if it wasn’t for ‘Twist and Shout’ and let’s not forget Peter Cetera’s ‘Glory of Love’ that helped Ralph Macchio land the girl in The Karate Kid. Kate Winslet kept going on with her life with a little help from Celine Dion’s ‘Your Heart Will Go On’. And just like that song, I could go on and on and on but I think you get the picture
Which brings me to my favorite all-time soundtrack to one of my all-time favorite movies ever-Harry Connick Jr. crooning songs in When Harry Met Sally. Whenever I hear ‘It Had To Be You’, it brings me back to the day I first met my husband. To me that movie is quintessential New York City and the ultimate boy meets girl story. But it wouldn’t have been nearly as good without Harry singing the big band favorites of ‘Don’t See You Around Much Anymore’, ‘Stompin at the Savoy’ and ‘Winter Wonderland.’ Every note sung spelled out love. Whenever I hear Harry sing, it brings me back to that time in my life when I found my forever.
So the next time you’re in your car and you turn on the radio, I hope you get a chance to go back in time and relive some of your favorite moments. I hope you hear that familiar melody and the lyrics and smile, knowing that they’re playing the soundtrack to your life.