“Great Day,” by Paul McCartney

I heard this song in a credit card commercial tonight. A warm, sentimental feeling washed over me. It was like running into an old friend I haven’t seen in a long time. I bought the CD, “Flaming Pie,” when it was released in 1997. One song on the CD, “The World Tonight,” got plenty of exposure on the radio, but then the album faded into obscurity. That’s the way it seemed to me, anyway.

I just dragged it out and listened to it in the car a few months ago, actually. A couple of the songs have lost their flavor, but most of them hold up very well. “Young Boy” is still excellent. “Heaven on a Sunday” continues to push my emotional buttons as well. “Souvenir” almost makes me cry.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I always felt like this CD was overlooked and underrated. That’s why I was delighted to hear “Great Day” again. I’m glad someone remembers it besides me … and Paul McCartney.

 

(My novel, Under the Electric Sun, is available on Amazon. The main character is a cybernetic raccoon named Tristan. The story takes place in the future, in a high-tech underground city beneath the ruins of Washington, DC. You can click here to download it.)

Rhyan’s music box

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Lately, my co-worker has been jamming out to 90s music on Pandora. He works right beside me, just a few feet away, so I hear every song over the groaning and screeching of ancient machinery. Rhyan, the co-worker I’m referring to, is 21 years old. I’m 33, so I have a different relationship with the music. I have plenty of not-so-old memories of driving around in a ’76 Monte Carlo, listening to Nirvana, Third Eye Blind, Semi Sonic, Fastball, Ben Folds Five, and Eagle Eye Cherry. But Rhyan is probably too young to remember when all this stuff was fresh and brand-new. To him, the songs are just remnants of some bye-gone era in the distant past … the way I think of Woodstock music, for example.

 As I hear these 90s songs, I feel like I should be guzzling Surge, discussing the special effects in “Titanic,” getting ready for my school trip to Germany, and drawing T-shirt designs at a little printing company called Vision Graphics. (You’ve probably never heard of Vision Graphics, I know, but I worked there in the afternoons when I was in high school. It was an integral part of my youth.)

I already spend a lot of time reminiscing about the 90s anyway, with or without Rhyan’s high-tech music box. I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but some time in the middle of my 20s, I started thinking about the past more and more, savoring my memories of the 80s — memories of Alf, the California Raisins, Super Mario Brothers, and Ronald Reagan’s grandfather-like persona.

Now the 90s are beginning to take on that same dreamy sparkle.

There’s something very dangerous about nostalgia, though. If I spend too much time reflecting on the past, I’m going to miss the present. I have to keep reminding myself of this. My friend Hannah told me the other day that nostalgia is “quicksand covered with leaves.”

Not too long ago, while Rhyan’s music box was playing “Smells Like Teen Spirit” for the fourth time in one day, my mind floated back to 1996. Then I suddnely remembered a quote from James Herriot. I read it once when I was a kid and it has always stuck with me:

“It’s not good to live in the past, but it’s OK to visit it from time to time.”

Good advice.