As long as I can remember, I have had this tendency to think there was a song for every moment of my life. I could find a title or a phrase to represent every event I have lived through.
My first girlfriend and I swore our undying love for each other to The Beatles tune "Do You Want to Know a Secret?" The band I was in played in the Village and in Central Park, and I found myself humming "So You Want to Be a Rock and Roll Star" by The Byrds. A close encounter with the draft board and the Vietnam War led me not only to college but to listening to "I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-to-Die-Rag" by Country Joe and the Fish.
Upon graduating college, I pursued my true life's desire to be a teacher. It was not an easy road. I put in time as a substitute and a private-school teacher before finally attaining a full-time public-school job. By then, the vinyl records of my youth had given way to the cassette tapes of the 1970s. As I drove to work the first day of what would become a more than three-decade-long career, I popped a cassette in the player and cranked it up to full volume for Jethro Tull's "Teacher."
By the time we were settled enough to marry, my wife and I had known each other nine years. The "Do You Want to Know a Secret?" girl had stuck with me through all the good times and bad. Therefore, for our wedding song, we chose "A Time for Us." Three years later, we welcomed our first of three children, and I listened frequently to "Eyes of a Child" by the Moody Blues.
When I coached all three kids in baseball and softball, and played softball myself, it seemed only fitting to play John Fogerty's "Centerfield" (a position we all played at one time or another). The sports and music connection continued when I suffered a bout of midlife insanity and ran six marathons. Throughout the training and races, my headphones blasted the Grateful Dead singing "I will survive," from the song "A Touch of Grey." It also was appropriate because heredity had left me totally gray by the age of 40.
There was no one who did not feel the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001. Billy Joel's "New York State of Mind" and Bruce Springsteen's "My City of Ruin" seemed to reverberate during those dark days.
It was a brief four years later that I retired after 34 years of teaching. I had really enjoyed my years as an elementary school, middle school, high school and college teacher, but it was time to relax and enjoy myself. After I said my final goodbyes, I got into my car and played "School's Out" by Alice Cooper.
My wife and I retired on the same day and looked forward to time together. I could not help but think of the John Lennon/Mary Chapin Carpenter song "Grow Old With Me" (the best is yet to be). Yet our retirement had a much more specific theme song. Our dream had always been to buy an RV and visit all 48 contiguous states and every major league baseball park.
We have taken 21 lengthy trips in our Winnebago. Religiously, each trip begins with the playing of Willie Nelson's "On the Road Again." In 2011, we entered our 48th state to "California Dreamin' " streaming through the speakers of the RV. Our ballpark goal came to fruition the next year.
Yet our golden years were also about our family and those three kids who had spurred so many of their own themes. They were now all adults. What was more fitting than to dance to Andrea Boccelli's "Time to Say Goodbye" with my daughter at her wedding? And when my sons became fathers within a few months of each other, I was now faced with a third generation on which to inflict my musical musings. By 2009, technology (and free time) allowed me to create music videos for their first Father's Day.
In 2012, the soundtrack for the movie "Act of Valor" was released. Each song had to do with the deployment, actions and return of troops in the War on Terror.
In August 2012, my son, an Army officer, left for Afghanistan. There are five or six songs on the album that expressed feelings that everyone in the family was going through during this time. I focused on the Winona Judd song "Whatever Brings You Back." On Memorial Day this year, he returned safely to American soil.
The vinyl records, cassette tapes and CDs have been consigned to long-forgotten storage areas of my house. Everything is digital now. Everything has changed, but that girl who shared The Beatles song with me 50 years ago is still here after 41 years of marriage. This week, we shared another Beatles song in the soundtrack of our lives. We were born two days apart. If you have been doing the math, the song is obvious: "Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm 64?"
-- William J. Rostron, Middle Island
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