I was watching one of the latest episodes of Loki. When the ending song started to play, I found myself fall in love immediately. It was "If You Love Me (Really Love Me)" by Brenda Lee. I know many others fell in love with this song too because when I opened my YouTube app, it was on the recommended list. Not creepy at all.
This led me to go down a rabbit hole of old songs from the 60s and 70s. Surprisingly, I found many of the songs familiar. When I was a kid, probably kindergarten age, my parents had a set of stereo players that would be playing all night. I didn't know back then, but now I know that they were Carpenter and Elvis, Whitney Huston and Micheal Jackson. I wasn't surprised that I still remembered the melody--I was sensitive to sounds from an early age. But I was amazed, when I listened to these old songs again after some twenty years, that I remember some of the lyrics too.
It was amazing and astonishing because I didn't even speak English back then, let alone understanding it and remembering the lines. It was the 90s in China. The albums and tapes were collected by my parents when they were in college during the 80s. I supposed they were the fancy kids at that time. My mom studies German in college so she'd listen to "foreign music" all the time; my dad, well, he was a college boy so he was into writing love poems and singing love songs outside of the girls' dorm, according to my mom. I don't know how many girls really fell for him but dad used to brag about all the girls going gaga for him. I accidentally found his notebook on which he'd write those love poems and they were, of course, terrible.
The old stereo set was a gift to my mom from my dad because it was something fancy to have. I remember it was Sony, and it was quite heavy. With the stereo speakers my parents would listen to English songs, Love is Blue, Moon River, Are You Lonesome Tonight. When they were in the mood, they would dance in our tiny living room, the floor of which was covered by ugly lino. I couldn't remember what I was doing, though. Probably giggling somewhere.
They also had an old karaoke set. I cannot recall the details, but it was probably VCR, and the TV would show lyrics and the music videos. Sometimes my mom's friends would come over to our tiny apartment and sing karaoke together. When I was going through the Brenda Lee playlist a few days ago and she got to the part where she read out a part of the lyrics, the memory suddenly came flashing back to me. I remember we'd all sit on the couch, one or two of mom's friends would be standing with the mic. They'd start to sing. When they got to the lyrics reading part, sometimes they would just read out randoms things, but all the friends on the couch would cheer. I had no idea what was going on but thought it was quite funny that they'd just utter weird words in the middle of a song. It must be a 60s or 70s thing, because Whitney Huston and Micheal Jackson's songs didn't have those parts.
Life is so weird. These songs from 60s and 70s America got popular in China and became the memory of youth of my parent's generation. Without even understanding anything of it, I somehow remembered them during the 90s. Twenty years later I am living in America, and another boom of nostalgia seems to be on the rise in TV shows and movies. Whenever a familiar song gets played on the screen, a strange feeling of familiarity would hit me. It happened when I was watching the Umbrella Academy season 2. In one of the episodes "Love Is Blue" started playing and I thought, "OMG I know the lyrics!" Strange.
After I entered elementary school, we did not use the old stereo set anymore. Televisions had better speakers and smaller-size CD players became available. The old stereo set just sat there on the shelf collecting dust. Then finally one day, dad decided to get rid of it. I remember my mom saying, "What a shame. It was such an expensive stereo set."