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Songs Bringing Back Memories in My Life

Paul is a retired American ex-pat living in Thailand. He has been following popular music since the 1950s.

Songs Bringing Back Memories in My Life


Popular songs from the past easily bring back memories from various stages of my life. Starting from the mid-1950s, I followed pop music on the radio. Rock music became an infatuation throughout the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s. When I stopped following pop music in 2007, experiences in my life had been plentiful. I had been to college, in the Navy, worked for the federal government, lived in Taiwan and Thailand, and been married and divorced.

When I hear old songs today, many bring back memories from my earlier years. In this article, I share seven songs that immediately trigger vivid recollections of when and where I was.

You Talk Too Much

In the fall of 1960, I was a junior at Burlington High School in Wisconsin. I remember the school having a jukebox outside of the gym in the basement. During lunch hour many kids would go down to the gym area to listen to the jukebox and dance.

Beth B and Andy W, both seniors, seemed to always be swaying on the dance floor. Beth was a very pretty blonde cheerleader and Andy was on the football team. Andy was especially noticeable and got the name "Big Bopper" for his cool dancing. One of the songs he loved bopping to was Talk Too Much by Joe Jones.

As a junior, I was on the football team with Andy. I will always remember the nosebleed that he suffered after running back a kickoff to the opponent's five-yard line.

Burlington High School



Kicks by Paul Revere and the Raiders was a very popular song in early 1966. At that time, I was a senior at the University of Wisconsin in Madison and living in a dorm next to Lake Mendota. On one weekend, the Lakeshore Halls Association that we all belonged to held a dance with a DJ on the second floor of Carson Gulley Hall. Carson Gulley was right across from our dorm and also served as our eating hall.

The dance started at 8:00 pm and was open to the men residents of Adams and Tripp Halls and the co-eds of Schlicter Hall. We all ate at Carson Gulley. One of the songs I remember hearing and dancing to was Kicks. I had been social chairman of my dorm the previous semester so I knew a lot of the coeds in Schlicter. After having a few dances with Holly, Sharon, and Janet, we all made our way over to the Badger Tavern a few blocks away to enjoy the remainder of the evening.

Carson Gulley Hall

We entered the dining hall through the door on the second level.

We entered the dining hall through the door on the second level.

Heard it Through the Grapevine

In the spring of 1969, I was stationed with the Navy in Taiwan when I first listened to I heard It Through the Grapevine by Marvin Gaye. Working and living on Shulinkou Mountain, I would sometimes spend the afternoon in my barracks listening to the radio. Armed Forces Network Taiwan (AFNT) was our favorite station because it was in English and played popular Western music. One of the station's disc jockeys had a program called Psychedelia. Although I Heard It Through the Grapevine wasn't a psychedelic song, I grooved on this hit by Marvin Gaye. Whenever I was on liberty in the bars and clubs of Taipei, I would play this song on the jukebox.

25 or 6 to 4

It seems like only yesterday when I heard 25 or 6 to 4 by Chicago in January 1971. At the beginning of January, I had just been separated from the Navy. After three weeks with my family in Wisconsin, I was ready to return to Taiwan as a civilian. I recall first taking an evening flight from Milwaukee to Los Angeles that was almost an hour late getting into L.A. It was a close international connection and I almost missed my flight to Taipei, Taiwan. As a stewardess was preparing to close the door of a Boeing 707, I presented myself and was barely able to board the aircraft. Having settled in my seat, I put on my headset and started to listen to music. The first song I enjoyed was Chicago's 25 or 6 to 4.

Hooked on a Feeling

When I first heard Hooked on a Feeling by B.J. Thomas, it was the summer of 1974 and I was living in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. I had married a Taiwanese and already had two kids. Mike aged six was adopted and Charles just born in February was my own. My wife Mona had a friend who worked in Nancy's Harbor Inn just off of Chi Hsien 3rd Road near Kaohsiung harbor. One evening while visiting her with the family, I played Hooked on a Feeling on the jukebox and immediately fell in love with that song.

The Reflex

How can I forget The Reflex by Duran Duran! I first heard this song when I was back in Taiwan with my family in August 1984. The U.S. government had just sent my family and me over to Taiwan so that I could have one year of Chinese Mandarin language immersion training. Our living quarters were on Yangmingshan Mountain near a training school in the vicinity of the small village of Shantzehou.

During our first week on Yangminshan, I often heard The Reflex on International Community Radio Taiwan (ICRT) in our quarters after I returned from my classes a little after 3:00. The summer and fall of 1984 were some of my family's happiest times.

What Becomes of the Broken Hearted

In contrast, the summer and fall of 1992 were some of the saddest periods of my life. The relationship with my wife had gone downhill in a hurry since 1984. To compound matters, my oldest son Mike developed schizophrenia in 1986 and had been in and out of mental institutions. By February 1990, Mona and I separated. Due to my wife's mental illness, our marriage could not be saved and ended in divorce in July 1992.

The sadness and sorrow of a divorce following 19 years of marriage didn't hit home until a few weeks after receiving the divorce decree. After hearing What Becomes of the Broken Hearted by Paul Young, I broke down and cried. I still loved her and felt awful for my youngest son Charles who was still in high school and living with me. Many times I regret not being able to save our family at that dark time in my life.

© 2020 Paul Richard Kuehn


Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on August 15, 2020:

Allen, your experience was a lot more challenging and dangerous than my service in Taiwan and Japan. Do you remember where you lived offbase or do you still have any pictures?

Allen Edwards from Iowa on August 15, 2020:

Paul..Sorry for my pathetic attempt at trying to explain that we shared the experience of having lived in Udon Thani.

My time period was from June 1967 until December 1967. I was a member of a 1 Plane -- Navy P2-V Neptune -- squadron whose mission was to fly the "Ho Chi Minh" trail at night, at 600 feet altitude, trying to discover the North Vietnamese convoys that were trying to remain hidden under the jungle canopy and the "blackness" of that "somewhere over there", night.

Our base of operations was a corner of the "Air America" Operations which was located at the North end of the Udorn AFB.

We were a rather small group of "Navy Airdales" and several "Tech Reps" -- from the companies that equipped our P2 with lots of "sophisticated" equipment -- but the Airforce base informed us we would have to live "offbase", as there was no room for us.

Oh NO..you mean we would have to share a; very nice, 2 bedroom bungalow, with...Just my "Best Buddy" (well not ALWAYS..Just him`~`)..paid for by Uncle Sam, plus a stipend for chow!

It was a "Very Rewarding" six months and had it not been for that "Last Mission", in which the tracers of those 20mm Anti Aircraft guns were lighting up the black of night, just feet below us...I enjoyed my time there!

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on August 14, 2020:

Hearing a song is just like seeing an old picture. It brings back so many memories!

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on August 14, 2020:

Thanks, Pamela. I am very happy that you found this article interesting. In time, I will edit this article with more songs and experiences.

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on August 14, 2020:

The years since my divorce have been both good and bad. In time, I will edit this article. Thanks for commenting!

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on August 14, 2020:

Yes, Louise, many songs bring back memories. In some ways, the songs are just like pictures.

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on August 14, 2020:

I am pleased you liked my article, Allen. You are living in Udon Thani now? Where do you exactly live and how long have you lived in Udon?

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on August 13, 2020:

It is amazing how hearing a song can zap us back in time to specific periods in our lives. Thanks for sharing some that are meaningful to you.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on August 13, 2020:

I like the way you put what you were doing when you heard these songs. This group of songs are good and it is interesting how we connect our experiences with songs. This is an interesting article, Paul.

Liz Westwood from UK on August 13, 2020:

This is a great way to write an autobiographical account, linking songs with events in your life. It's sad that it finishes on a low point. I hope that the years since then have been better for you.

Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on August 13, 2020:

I love how songs can bring back memories in our lives. There's so many songs I love listening to that reminds me of certain times in my life. They bring back good memories.

Allen Edwards from Iowa on August 13, 2020:

Hello Paul

I really enjoyed you sharing some of your more important( to you) life experiences and I can relate to most everyone of them, as I experienced them All also..if not in the exact chronological order or geographical location.

I also have great memories, and affection for All your shared music!

I hope you are staying Safe and still enjoying (as much as possible during this terrible affliction) in our -- once upon a time -- place of common residence...Udon Thani!

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