A few nights ago I heard a song by Barry Manilow from the 70’s titled “Mandy.” It brought back some memories from my childhood and sent me just over the border into Melancholy Ville.
It didn’t last long because the next thought I had was of the movie Tommy Boy starring the late Chris Farley and David Spade. The specific scene I thought of was the one when they were in the character of Spade’s car driving across the midwest en route to making sales calls.
Farley’s character, Tommy Boy was spinning the radio dial in search of some decent music they could both agree on, but Tommy Boy stopped on a Carpenter’s song. For the younger readers, it was a brother and sister team that were considered even softer and cheesier than Barry Manilow.
Tommy Boy says something like, “Oh man, I hate this song”! trying to live up to the peer pressure thrust upon him from childhood, the “real men don’t listen to this kind of stuff” mantra. Spade agrees the songs horrible, both of them glancing nervously back and forth not wanting to admit they want to listen to it.
Tommy Boy finally says something like, “Well there’s really nothing else on”! –“I can stomach it if you can”! Spade smartly replies, “Suit Yourself”!
The movie cuts directly from that scene to the next with the both of them singing at the top of their lungs with tears in their eyes to that Carpenter’s song,
“Don’t you remember you told me you loved me babeeeh”
“Said you’d be comin’ back this way again babeeeh”
“Babeh, babeh, babeh, babeh oh babeh”
“I love you… I really do”
Complete mush… Not one self-respecting boy I ever knew admitted to liking the Carpenters or Barry Manilow. I’m not sure how the Bee Gees sold so many millions of records since no one liked or listened to them?
In truth, those songs didn’t have much appeal to young boys who were moving at light speed along with their favorite music. The appeal is nostalgic in many cases, being old enough to be able to sit back and reflect on our lives.
The funny part of Tommy Boy is the honesty portrayed that no one likes to admit. Even the things that were not considered “cool” are part of our past and therefore part of us. Time has a way of changing our perspectives doesn’t it?
Even some of the people we weren’t really friends with becomes part of a relatively small close knit group that shared a specific place and time along the way. We didn’t all have the same taste in music or believe the exact same way about many things, now in hindsight the things that were looked down on or avoided for the sake of being cool become part of what helps define a time in our life.
Since we understand our lives are special, many of those nostalgic things take on more meaning. I can’t say I’ve ever owned Barry Manilow or the Carpenter’s music, but I can now listen and be reminded of a special time.
A time when those type of songs played repeatedly on the radio.
A time when the AM radio stations were still playing music.
A time before cassettes or CD’s were the “in” thing.
A time before mp3 players and I-phones.
A time when pay phones were the only form of communication to parents at home who made sure we had a dime for a phone call.
A time when most of the music we listened to happened at home via albums or 8-tracks with other family members.
A time that in some ways though difficult were some of the best times…
When I hear a song that brings back the memories of those days long past, I cherish them.
I might even sing along to an old cheesy song.
I might sometimes even have a tear in my eye… It was a different time…