As I drove to work a few days ago, a song came on the radio. Unbidden and unexpected, it caught me, whirled me up in its notes, and threw me back down in 1994.
It doesn't have any association with a remarkable incident; it doesn't remind me of a long-lost love, or life-changing moment. It's not in my top ten favourite songs and it wouldn't even feature in my Desert Island Discs, but when it came on the radio, it had the power to take me back in an instant, to a particular time and place.
The song was Deacon Blue's 'A Ship called Dignity', it was the opening track on their greatest hits album 'Our Town' and I played it on a plastic radio-cassette player, while I decorated our sons' bedroom. As I slapped on blue paint - dark blue at the bottom, light blue at the top, with the colours separated by a brightly patterned sea-side border, I sang my heart out to the opening song and the following 18 tracks. I played it again and again, moving the player around the room with me as I worked. I listened to one side then downed the paint-brushes to swap the cassette over and play the other. Before long, I knew the order of the songs so well I was singing the next one before the opening bars had even sounded.
I was happy. I was decorating the house we'd worked and saved for. It was the house that the children were meant to grow up in, go off to the rest of their lives from, bring back our grandchildren to. I didn't know then that we'd leave that house the following year, that the room I was decorating would all too soon end up being slept in by someone else's children. I certainly didn't know then how guilty I'd feel in all the years in-between; for not trying hard enough to keep us all together in the house that we all loved.
For that week, while I painted and sang, I was happy. It was a time when I didn't know just how miserable I'd feel for a long time afterwards. When the song came on the radio, it took me straight back to that happiness and I'm so glad it had the power to do that.
All of which has left me thinking. I've never tried giving this blog a 'theme' before, and I'm not about to turn it into a music blog now. You would see only too soon, just how mundane and unambitious my musical tastes can be. But I know there are dozens of other songs that have a similar effect on me - bringing me instantly to a moment in my life, pricking at my memories, prompting my reflections. I think I'd like to try and capture some of those memories here, maybe once a week, under the heading Soundtrack Stories.
I've been so delighted by all the new (and continuing) readers who've visited this blog since the Blog-of-Note excitement last week, and it occurred to me that this might also be a way of getting to know you all a bit better. So I'd also love to hear if any of you have your own striking memories associated with songs. If you've written about them, feel free to e-mail me, or please put a link in the Comments box and I'll come and take a look. I may even share the very best of them here if people are ok with that.
Let me know what you think.