One day last week over the noon hour I jumped in my car and turned the key. As is typically the case the radio was already on and tuned in to my favorite local oldies station.
While not uncommon to hear a music I’m familiar with, on this particular day the song coming out of the speakers was one I couldn’t remember hearing or even thinking about for years, if not longer.
Playing was a Paul McCartney hit from his post-Beatles days - “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey.” Released in the U.S. as a single in August 1971, it reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 a month later, making it McCartney’s first chart-topping song during his solo career.
As I drove home with the stereo blaring, I found that despite the passage of time since I’d last heard the song, I was able to sing along, albeit badly, without missing hardly a word or intonation.
Despite being certified “gold” because it sold over 1 million copies and having earned McCartney a Grammy Award in 1971, it may not be particularly memorable to those of you from my generation. However, for me the song opened a time capsule of memories.
In 1971 I would have been 15 years old, so I wouldn’t have yet had my driver’s license. Consequently, my memories of the song do not date back to roaring down the highway with the windows down and the radio volume turned up.
In that era before the Walkman, my connection to the music world was a small transistor radio that I frequently carried with me on my bike.
On late summer evenings, such as when “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” was gaining radio play, I could be found listening to the “hits” sitting in front of my house on a concrete slab that marked the entrance to a storm water drainage pipe. Frequently accompanying me on those warm nights as I listened to WLS, the AM radio dial’s then self-proclaimed “rock of Chicago,” was a blond-haired kid from across the street – Eddie.
Like the song, I had not thought of Eddie in years. And while I guess I outgrew my younger friend as I grew older, as I listened to the McCartney song last week I couldn’t help but recollect fondly a time when listening to music with Eddie was an enjoyable thing to do.
Music is not a person’s only conduit to the past. For some it could be a patch of woods where family and friends used to go hunting. For others it might now be a weed covered patch of open ground where neighborhood kids used to gather for an afternoon game of baseball or touch (tackle) football.
Page 2 of 2 - In the Henley household I think that personal connection is through photography. I can look back on images I’ve taken in years past and remember if I was accompanied by two of my photographer children – Jacob and Amber. And although not a serious photographer himself, my son, Caleb, also factors into my photo-taking memories since he frequently rode shotgun during my excursions.
More recently, my picture-taking partner has been my youngest daughter, Anna. Because she is taking a digital photography class at Hannibal-LaGrange University, Anna has stepped up the frequency of her photographic excursions.
Anna, who is already showing a great eye for the craft, has come home a couple times in the last week saying, “I thought of you Dad when I was shooting this.” And Anna would be right, she’d found a spot I’d wished I’d been with her at with a camera in my hands.
Last Friday afternoon, father and daughter revisited a site Anna had shot at earlier in the week, both taking photos and creating memories of time spent together.