Nostalgia and Longing

NMy wife doesn’t like one (or more) of my favorite songs: Night Moves by Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band. I thought it was our differing tastes in music (she’s country, I’m rock and roll), but one day our son pointed out why. It’s a ‘guy’ song. I also realized that we each look back in time with different memories. Never mind that she really does not enjoy the raspy-voiced shouting of old Bob. The song, written and recorded by Seger in 1976, is a coming of age tale about adolescent love and an adult memory of it. It strikes memories of my times in the early sixties.

For the past twenty years, I have learned to live in the moment – to let go of the past and disregard future problems. So, for me to admit that I long for, or crave anything from the past would be contrary to my philosophy of life. Like anyone, I would certainly enjoy repeating pleasurable experiences. But I can’t. I suppose that is what makes them nostalgic. However, I must admit to my instinctive fondness for a decade from the past. A longing is a desire for a person, object, or outcome. I suppose that we all have them, but desire can get us into situations we would rather not be in – trouble.

nostalgiaDuring the 1970s I graduated from college (many thought impossible), I re-entered the Air Force as an officer, I completed flight training, all my children were born, and I turned thirty (I thought that impossible and I sadly became untrustworthy— relates to the famous “don’t trust anyone over 30” adage of Jack Weinberg, activist of the 1960s, now 76). I usually listen to the music of the 70s. While I enjoy those songs for their own value, the music also often brings with it memories and feelings that can only be called nostalgia. Sometimes, it makes me feel profoundly sad. I’m not sure why, but I suppose it has to do with something that will never be again.

john_travolta_night_feverIt was the decade of great music, great movies, and great TV. The politics were interesting. How often do we get to see a president resign? I am working on a historical-fiction novel, set in the 1970s. We had Star Wars, ABBA, and the Beatles break-up. Elvis died. Everything was either brown or orange including the shag pile carpeting (ok, add yucky gold). We had platform shoes, Charlies Angels, Mork and Mindy, metal drinking cups, portable hair dryers, Holly Hobbie, Lava Lamps, and the most outlandish fashions ever for America and England. Who could ask for more? We typed on typewriters, went to Tupperware parties, and air conditioning was a welcome luxury. And who did not have an 8-track?

“I woke last night to the sound of thunderBob_Seger_2013
How far off I sat and wondered
Started humming a song from 1962
Ain’t it funny how the night moves
When you just don’t seem to have as much to lose
Strange how the night moves
With autumn closing in.” ~ Bob Seger, Night Moves

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5 thoughts on “Nostalgia and Longing

  1. For most of us, it’s the music of our 20s that continues to tug at our heartstrings for the rest of our all too short lives. Thus for me it is the 90s, though I love the 70s music as well (for the most part I discovered these gems in the 90s)….the 80s? Well, most of that can be flushed down the toilet. I think the external events are of less importance than the internal ones in this case. No matter the external realities, the internal themes of finding a place in the world, trying to figure out just who we are, what we believe…that is the same, for Americans anyway, no matter our situations.
    – Was it for this my life I sought?
    Maybe so and maybe not.

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  2. Despite how many times I have sung along with this song, I don’t think I ever fully paid attention to the lyrics.

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