Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Reuniting with Lost Loves at the Jewel and in the CD Section

Not long after I started working at the library, I was reunited with a lost love at the Jewel, in the bread and cereal aisle to be precise. The lost love was not a person but a song, and when I heard the opening keyboard line it was as if some missing puzzle piece of my heart had snapped perfectly into place, and all felt right in my world.

The song was Dancing in the Moonlight by King Harvest, and if you listened to rock radio in the 70s you probably heard it, even if you've long forgotten the title. To my pre-teen ears, this song was happiness itself bottled in a perfect little three minute song. I especially loved the keyboard part, a bit of contrapuntal wizardry that sounds like something Bach might have written if Bach had lived in the 1970s and taken to an electric keyboard on a night when he was feeling especially loose.

When I was growing up, my older sister had the song on a 45 rpm, probably purchased at the local drugstore back when drugstores sold 45s. Although I had been explicitly forbidden to touch her albums and 45s, I'd sneak a listen to Dancing in the Moonlight when she was out of the house. (I also touched her Beatles white album, multiple times. I have no regrets.) Though I absolutely adored this song, I somehow lost track of it.

Thankfully, after hearing it that day in the Jewel, I tracked it down on a CD at the library. The song has found its way onto a number of compilations over the years, including Have a Nice Decade: The '70s Pop Culture Box, as well as the soundtrack to Outside Providence, both of which the library owns.

Did you know you can search the online catalog for songs? A lot of patrons are surprised when they learn this; they think you can only search by CD title, not song title. Here are are a few tips and tricks for searching for songs in the online catalog:

Use the default words or phrase search.

Type the words "and" and "cd" along with the song title, so your search string looks like this:

dancing in the moonlight and cd

But let's say you know that the band Toploader also recorded Dancing in the Moonlight, but you only want the King Harvest recording. You can add the name of the band, King Harvest, to your search string so that your results only contain the King Harvest original. Your search string would then look like this:

dancing in the moonlight and cd and king harvest

As a general rule, if you know the name of the performer or performers of a song, type it in and it'll speed your search. This is especially true if you're searching for a song that has lots of common words. For example, say you're looking for the song Baby, I Love You. If you type in Baby, I Love You and CD, 377 titles will come up. If you know that the fabulous Ronettes recorded that song, and you type in Baby, I Love You and CD and Ronettes, the catalog will bring up only the CD that contains that song performed by the Ronettes--The Best of the Ronettes. A great CD by the way!

Other songs I've been happily reunited with:

Fool's Gold by Graham Parker on Graham Parker: The Ultimate Collection. One of rock's all-time great angry young men allows a glimpse of the idealist and romantic behind the dark glasses--without sounding mushy. Most of the other songs on this collection are great, too.

Dixie Storms by Maria McKee on Maria McKee: The Ultimate Collection. A haunting song of beauty and longing sung by the unparalleled McKee. That she isn't well-known given her extraordinary voice, emotional range and brilliant songs is one of the world's great mysteries. (And how can I not love a songwriter who wrote several songs inspired by the work of Tennessee Williams?)

Maria McKee

Happy searching and listening, and feel free to share your own stories of reunion with songs from your past.


Karen said...

I had a recent conversation with a friend in which we realized we have become the "demographic" for the music played at Jewel - I am constantly reunited with long-lost musical loves in the grocery aisles! I recently burst into song when they were playing Billy Joel's "Vienna," and a few weeks after that with George Michael's "Praying For Time." It works - my mood gets lifted and I linger in the store a bit longer, probably spending more as a result. I'm grateful for our great CD collection here, because I can enjoy old favorites without always having to purchase them.

Fiona Dinwiddie said...

Trader Joe's has a nice 60s mix. I like to sing some Donovan when I'm browsing the wine section.

lasscorpia said...

How about Bono's initial exhalation on Desire? It's not even a note.

My personal favorite is the few quiet guitar strums before Eric gets down on his knees and starts his wailing guitar on Layla ( who happened to be Patti Boyd, married to his best friend George Harrison.) And Duane Allman is on that song too. It's like guitar heaven.

Laura A. said...

There's a Donovan song I love that for years I thought was actually Bob Dylan, called "Catch the Wind." Hypnotic and beautiful. I couldn't quite believe it was the same Donovan who did Mellow Yellow, which I've never cared for.

Agreed that that's a great guitar part on Layla!

Linda K. said...

Thank goodness for shopping trips or I would never get to listen to my old favorites. I had my hair cut recently (yes it's too short but it will grow) and the radio station was having a disco marathon. Heavens! Do you know how hard it is to sit still when that music is playing? Those are sharp scissors right next to my ear! Bee Gees and "Staying Alive" Donna Summer's "Hot Stuff" and ABBA's "Dancing Queen." I hated to leave the place!

Anonymous said...

Now I know why I don't like grocery shopping! Songs from my past put me in a melancholy mood. Just give me something instrumental from broadway as I buy my raisin bran.

Anonymous said...

Your lead paragraph made me smile.

Quite a few years ago I, too, was in the cereals section of a supermarket when one of my all-time favorite songs kicked in. It was Butera in Des Plaines, and the tune was "Angie" by the Rolling Stones. At the time I thought it so bizzare that there I was in a grocery store one weeknight and this old rock song that almost always makes me melt was playing to all of the customers. I'm glad to know that others have shared this experience.

Thanks for this piece!


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