Life is about stages and in each stage, memories are born that stay forever. From school to university, we embrace wonderful memories. We leave our cultural niche, travel abroad and see people and environments we never saw in our home country; the memories born are plentiful. Courtship and marriage bring countless sentiments that you cherish forever.
When I was courting my wife, I introduced her to a reggae song, “Dreadlock Holiday” that had an unusual characteristic. It wasn’t recorded by a West Indian group, but a young White English band named “10cc.” After forty years of marriage, my wife still speaks fondly of her love for “Dreadlock Holiday” which remains one of her favourite tunes of all time.
From tropical Guyana with a non-white population, I went to Canada to study for a higher degree at McMaster University. This was a White country, so the soul and reggae that UG students played all the time would be missing. At McMaster University, I discovered “Fleetwood Mac” and its front lady, Stevie Nicks. The most popular tune on McMaster campus when I was there was “Sara” by Fleetwood Mac. It is a haunting, maudlin song about the danger of loving someone too much.
On Tuesday last, I walked into the house and saw Fleetwood Mac on television. My daughter was looking at it. She came to like Fleetwood Mac and “Sara” for obvious reasons. She said the band were the guests on the Ellen show. As I watched Stevie Nicks singing on the television, the memories of my time in Canada and my student days at McMaster came tumbling down. No other song reminds me of student days in Canada more than “Sara”. If you like all types of music, then try listening to the unique voice of Stevie Nicks on “Sara.”
Aretha Franklin and Neil Simon died days apart. Both artists hold terrific memories for me. As I read about the death of singer Franklin, and playwright, Neil Simon, two genres of memories came flashing in front of my eyes – growing up in Wortmanville in South Georgetown with soul music, and my endless days with my wife when we were students in Canada.
No youth in South Georgetown could have escaped the magic of Aretha Franklin. I would say in Guyana she was only eclipsed by Dionne Warwick. All my siblings enjoyed Franklin, but we all chose Warwick in front of her and one reason explains that – the phenomenal compositions of Burt Bacharach. Simply put, Warwick’s songs were more emotionally driven. One forceful memory that came to me when I heard of Franklin’s death was that of my sister, Janet.
I never knew of a playwright and screen player named Neil Simon when I lived in Guyana. I got to know him when I went to Canada. Simon’s most famous plays were made into films. My wife and I spent some exceptional romantic times watching Simon’s movies with Jack Lemmon. It was through these movies my wife and I came to like Jack Lemmon immensely. I would say Lemmon is very much on the top of our list of favourite actors and this includes my wife’s account of her revered Bollywood artists like Shashi Kapoor, Sunil Dutt and Asha Parekh, among others
Even though “The Odd Couple” was made in 1968, I never saw the film in Guyana. It was in Canada that I did, along with “The Out of Towners,” “Prisoner of Second Avenue,” You won’t believe it, but after seeing “The Odd Couple”, my wife and I sought out every Jack Lemmon film. In my collection at the moment, I have every film Jack Lemmon starred. Yes, I have a Jack Lemmon collection. Strangely my preferred Lemmon movie is not “The Odd Couple” but “Avanti!”
My wife and daughter still cannot understand why I like “Avanti!” over so many great Lemmon movies, but I guess the answer lies deep down in my psyche. Maybe it has to do with the special night when my wife and I watched the film. Once we continue to pass through stages of our lives, then books, songs, movies of so many talented artists will live forever in our minds.
I will close with the American invasion of Grenada in 1983 where I was working when the war came. We were cut off from the outside world. Donald Rodney, Walter Rodney’s brother, was our guest at the time, so the three of us spent days in the darkness with food running out, and only a battery radio. All the radio station could play every day was, “Making love out of nothing at all” by Air Supply and Robert Plant’s “The Big Log.” Those two songs have become indelible memories for me.
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