For as long as I can remember, I’ve been in love with time travel. It probably bordered on obsession at certain points in my life. It may have started with the H.G. Wells story “The Time Machine.” I had found a copy of the movie version from the 1960s at my local library in Leitchfield and became entranced by the possibilities, less concerned about the lead character’s battle with the Morlocks than just watching everything change around him. This was the ‘80s, and time travel was everywhere. “Back To The Future” was one of the biggest movies, fashion was going future-forward and everyone was certain that we were only a few years away from hovering. I probably wore out my copy of “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure” more than once. On the smaller screen, I spent my time with the “Muppet Babies,” which wasn’t a time travel show, per se, but their land of pretend allowed them to be anywhere, and I reveled in going with them.
Maybe I’m a product of my time, brought up during a period in popular culture that was so direct that I had little choice. Any way you cut it, this passion for the past and future has ingrained itself so deep within me that it’s certainly affected how I perceive art as a whole. I’m constantly straddling the desire to dive into old songs, albums, movies and photos while trying my best to figure out what happens next. And, with only so many hours in a day, I’ll get frustrated more often than feel any sense of accomplishment — not that it ever stops me from repeating it again the next day.
So we get it out there, at this point in my life, I do not expect time travel is actually possible. But believe me, I went much longer in life than most people holding on to the hope, like an adult wondering about Santa. As I look back now, it’s not completely unfounded as to why I held on. Like a lot of us, I hit a spot in my 20s when I realized I had turned into something like an adult, and that youth was suddenly behind me — my first real relationship with nostalgia. That’s when the first assessments of our past seep in and the occasional desire to “go back” to either change it, or revisit the fun. I was also aware of how dangerous it was to dwell on any of it too long as I had seen friends who were the embodiment of Springsteen’s “Glory Days.” If I were looking back, then how would I move forward? And that was most important to me.
But as in every sci-fi movie, there was a loophole. And you won’t be surprised when I say that I found it in the music. We all know the feeling of hearing a song and being transported right back to a moment when it was playing. It’s honestly one of the most amazing experiences that we’re capable of having without trying, a trick of the brain that affects the soul. What’s even more outstanding is that it’s not a one-and-done type of thing, as some songs will stop me in my tracks every single time I hear them. Everything around me, at least for that split second, skips and transforms to the space I was in when I first connected with it. My bedroom, a gas station, a party, the ocean, the lake, world civilization class. I got my first kiss to Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” and since Aerosmith’s “Crazy” was also playing at that middle school dance, those two songs carry an odd, equal weight to me. Weezer’s “Good Life” will always put me in this unforgettable house party, and Chris Cornell’s “Sunshower” was the first song I heard after the buildings went down on 9/11.
So while time travel may not ever actually exist (and if it does, time travelers of the future, thanks for nothing on the Trump thing), we’ve got the next best thing with the portals of art. They may not allow you to change anything, other than your demeanor maybe, but they’ll allow you to go back there, which is a pretty special thing. Just don’t stay too long. There’s another great, life-defining new song about to be played.