Music as time travel


Is it possible to time travel? Well, yes it is — in a sense. Music has the ability to take one back to a point in time and, for a few moments, allow one to experience memories, feelings, and emotions. Music has the power of transportation.

When I am traveling, I often listen to music either on the radio or the iPod. My music of choice? Generally music from the 1960s and 1970s, if I can get it. Although these are not the earliest songs I remember — my dad would listen to the original Hank Williams on the radio — the music of the Beatles introduced me to a new world.

From them, I learned that “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” (1963) was a perfectly good romantic expectation. When, as a 12-year-old, and I had an unrequited crush on a 15-year-old, “I saw Her Standing There” (1963) summed up my unspoken feelings. I was raised on such classic ballads as “She Loves You,” (1963), “And I Love Her” (1964), and as a kid from a working class neighborhood, I learned that however rich one may be, “Money Can’t Buy Me Love.” (1964).

As I got older, and began to have girlfriends, music played an important role. I shall leave off the names to spare the young ladies involved but, in 1965, a girl and I danced at a number of sock hops to “My Girl,” from the Temptations.

In 1966, and now dating someone else, our “special song” was The Association’s “Cherish.” And during the last two years of high school, the Association contributed once again by singing “Never My Love,” which summed up my feelings for yet another girl. There were other songs and other girls, all of which have their place in memories.

In 1970, the songs took a different turn. I was a U.S. Marine now and stationed at a base some eight hours from home, if one traveled by car. A couple of friends and I made the trip almost every Friday night for six months. The Grand Funk Railroad had a song entitled, “I’m Your Captain.” Among the lyrics were these:

“I’ve been lost now for days uncounted

“And it’s months since I’ve seen home

“Can you hear me? Can you hear me?

“Or am I all alone?

“I’m getting closer to my home

“I’m getting closer to my home

“I’m getting closer to my home”

Each time the song played on the radio, we would sing along, getting ever closer to home with every beat of the drum. Also that year, during the Vietnam War, Edwin Starr recorded “War,” which topped the charts and, even for Marines, seemed to sum up the ambivalence about the uncertain future we were all facing.

In 1972, I was on mess duty at Marine Corps Base Quantico when “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl),” recorded by Looking Glass, hit the airwaves and, like in a cheap music video, the 20 to 25 young Marines in the mess hall would sing along and dance to the music using spoons and spatulas as microphones (as long as we were alone and between meals).

There are other songs, of course, dozens really, that have that power to transport, if just for a few moments. Once in awhile, when the music comes on, I am back in the gym for a dance, back on the road home, back in the mess hall acting goofy like young Marines do, or just being young again in my mind and memories. I don’t want to go back there to live, but a brief visit once in a while is nice.

“There are places I remember

“All my life, though some have changed

“Some forever, not for better

“Some have gone and some remain

“All these places have their moments

“With lovers and friends I still can recall

“Some are dead and some are living

“In my life, I’ve loved them all”

(“In My Life” The Beatles, 1965)

Each generation has its own music and what appeals to one generation often does not appeal to the next. But that’s okay. Music choices are intensely personal. Whatever music it is, it’s our music. My music. It’s my memories, my experiences, my emotions. It’s my trip back in time for just a little while.

[David Epps is the pastor of Christ the King Church ( He is the bishop of the Diocese of the Mid-South (, which consists of Georgia and Tennessee, and is the associate endorser for his denomination’s military chaplains. He may be contacted at]