La Ritournelle

Questions of “Favourite X” or “Top Three Y” always stump me. I find myself getting excited when I hear a song I haven’t heard in a long time that I once loved or that brings back memories of another, happy time, but I’m usually hard pressed to name a favourite. I recently heard a blast of 80s pop that gave me incredible joy (Prince’s “Let’s go crazy” and Wham!’s “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go” were highlights), but I wouldn’t necessarily list those songs as favourites. Ask me about my “most important” songs, however, and it puts a different spin on the soundtrack in my mind, although I can only think of 2 that are worthy of the category.

First up in my duo of “most important” is “Buffalo Soldier” by Bob Marley. Its importance is simply that it is the first song that I have a clear memory of falling in love with. I would have been about 7 and I didn’t yet have a great command of English, so the lyrics were lost to me, but I loved the song nonetheless.

As much weight as I can place on the musical taste of my 7 year old self (impeccable, I’d say), “Buffalo Soldier” is shadowed in importance by a song that means so much more to me because of the events it accompanied. I first heard Sebastien Tellier’s “La Ritournelle” in my beloved early Saturday morning spin class, back in 2010, the perfect sound to let my mind drift, imagining myself coasting on an open road, far removed from the darkened room I shared with 20 or so other people, as sweat trickled into the crevices of my closed eyes. At the time, I didn’t know anything more about the track than the feeling of exhilaration that took hold of me on hearing it. I always looked forward to spin sessions where the instructor played his mix that included that amazing song. About 6 months after the first listen, I met a man via the wonders of online dating. Being a long distance relationship, we spent countless hours criss-crossing the roads between Melbourne and Adelaide. On one of our road trips, that amazing song popped up on his iPod, giving me even more pleasure when I was able to recline, sun warming my skin as I sat in the passenger seat beside the man I was getting to know, and falling in love with. The importance of “La Ritournelle” in our relationship was cemented on yet another road trip- when we stopped to dine at one of the few places open on the high street of the country town we were in. What should be playing when we walked in? you guessed it! There is something so joyous and life affirming in the long instrumental intro and the minimal lyrics that say so little and yet say it all…

“Oh nothing’s gonna change my love for you
I wanna spend my life with you
So we make love on the grass under the moon
No one can tell, damned if I do
Forever journeys on golden avenues
I drift in your eyes since I love you
I got that beat in my veins for only rule
Love is to share, mine is for you”

Fast forward to June 2014 and the man with the music and I were in a birthing suite, playlist prepared for the arrival of our son. I couldn’t bear to listen to any music once contractions kicked in, as any sensory stimuli beyond what I was forced to endure was not welcome in my world at the time. I requested the music be turned off, and music man wisely obliged, though my request to remove the clock and its incessant ticking was ignored by the midwives.

The arrival of our precious baby boy was, and still is, the most significant moment in my life. The love, the tears, the miracle, the wonder, the exhaustion, and did I say love? It all still comes back to me when I hear the very first song that played, once I permitted music in the birthing suite Oh nothin’s gonna change my love for you…Love is to share, mine is for you. My song for the music man and our baby boy.

Prompt from Writing 101, Day 3 Commit to a Writing Practice. Today’s Prompt: Write about the three most important songs in your life — what do they mean to you? Today’s twist: You’ll commit to a writing practice. The frequency and the amount of time you choose to spend today — and moving forward — are up to you, but we recommend a minimum of fifteen uninterrupted minutes per day.

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