My favourite radio station played this classic 1965 song recently, California Dreaming, and it had me reminiscing about a time I wasn’t even alive. The Mamas & the Papas rose to #89 with it on the Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
There’s something weird and deep that certain music does to us. California Dreaming has a mystical quality to me, and like some other songs of that era, particularly Simon and Garfunkel songs or John Denver songs, there’s a captivating quality in them that makes me want to wonder about a time I can’t possibly remember... what was it actually like to be living around the time of my birth or previous to it?
I wonder if you have a memory like this. I recall quite vaguely (in a vivid sort of way) hearing Pilot sing January (1974) on a long drive with my father and brother from Karratha to Perth. It was 1975 and so I was eight.
I recall the place where we actually drove through as the song played. Now, without exception, every time the song’s played (and unfortunately it’s not played that often) I’m taken back to that time, or certainly back to my childhood.
This reminds me of the climax to Ratatouille (2007) which is a favourite animated classic. When Anton Ego gets his first taste of Linguini’s common dish, he’s sent back in his mind immediately to his childhood--and it’s not only in our sense of taste that this happens; I find seeing certain colours, for instance, also does it.
The memory is a wonderfully rich thing. The freer the mind the richer the memory, I think. But at its base there is a wonderful blessing here for humanity. A loving God has designed us with the capacity for memory, to learn, to know consciously as well as subconsciously, and finally, the capacity of the conscience itself.
We don’t live in a vacuum. Everything we experience is meaningful. And this is what we live for: experience... the verb. To go from indoors to the outdoors on a quiet and clear but cool winter’s morning, with a gentle wafting breeze and a park to walk in. Could we ever get enough of that? Does the memory of that ever fade?
And like a song that’s cherished for what God’s done in it--at its inception--these mystical memories we get to carry with us, God willing, right into eternity.
Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
 Wikipedia. Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. RollingStone.com. Retrieved on 2007-06-02. http://www.rollingstone.com/news/coverstory/500songs