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Hollie Grimaldi Flores: The power of music

Hollie Grimaldi Flores
Laura Mahaffy/lmahaffy@theunion.com | The Union

I have always been amazed at the power of music to take us back to a singular event. Every time I hear “Long Train Running” or “China Grove” by The Doobie Brothers and I am transported back to junior high dances. Those first awkward attempts at coupling; of girls dancing together and boys mustering the courage to ask for a dance — usually to the mercifully short “Colour My World” by Chicago.

When I hear David Bowie’s “Fame” I am suddenly 15 and on roller skates watching my boyfriend show off his skills on wheels. And it’s “Oh, Darlin” by the Beatles that takes me to the last skate of the night — “couples skate” — under the twinkling white lights of the disco ball.

David Essex’s “Rock On” sends me to a walk up Front Street over an old bridge, walking the “Hey, hey we’re the Monkeys” walk with my friend while enjoying candy just purchased from the neighborhood store.



Tanya Tucker belts out “Delta Dawn” and I am at a sleepover in a tent in the backyard with my best girlfriends singing at the top of our lungs.

“Your Mama Don’t Dance and Your Daddy Don’t Rock and Roll” by Loggins and Messina comes on the radio and I am in middle school gym class playing volleyball.




Anything from the Fleetwood Mac “Rumors” album and I am in the basement with friends, hanging out after school. Marshall Tucker Band takes me to rides in an old station wagon aptly named, “The beast” driven by the older brother of one of my best pals. I can’t listen to Foreigners “Feels Like The First Time” without thinking about recklessly opening up the door as we did so many times while on our way to Sunday night motorcycle races.

“Billy Jean” by Michael Jackson comes on the radio and I am back to the Hotel Syracuse, working my way through college as a cocktail waitress, standing at the service bar with my co-workers, getting in trouble for dancing while on the clock.

There are songs tied to the happiest moments as well as the most tragic in my life. A few days ago, it happened again during a televised country music tribute to Glen Campbell. I had the pleasure of seeing Mr. Campbell perform live on a couple of occasions, including once at the fairgrounds in Grass Valley. But whenever I hear “By The Time I Get To Phoenix,” I am transported back to the late 1960s when my father did indeed leave for good, landing in Arizona. My parents had one of those relationships that was on-again and off-again for nearly 25 years. I don’t know if she ever believed, as the song says, “he would really go.” It reduces me to tears, every time.

It’s coming up on four years since my mother passed away. She would have turned 90 this December. I wonder what songs played those key parts in her life. I know she loved Patsy Cline, “Walkin’ After Midnight,” and I know she could have done without that particular Glen Campbell ditty while going through the painful process of divorce.

“Take A Letter, Maria” by R.B. Greaves and “Please Release Me” by Englebert Humperdink also seem to come with memories of a time I was too young to completely understand but old enough to feel the change in the room when the music played.

I wonder why a particular song stays with a specific moment. It’s the magic that keeps it timeless. Of course there are songs we assign to particular importance — the one we decide is our song, first dance songs and father daughter dance songs. There is a reason I think of my oldest sister whenever I hear anything from Elvis Presley or a “Strangers In the Night” by Frank Sinatra and the original version of “Last Kiss” will always remind me of my brother, Jim, after he patiently taught me all the words one evening a long, long time ago. But why, of all the times I heard “The Heart of Rock and Roll” by Huey Lewis and the News, is it a snowball fight on a sunny winter day in 2002 that comes to mind as soon as I hear the opening chords? As I take some time to think about my mother and the parts of her life I never really knew, I will be playing some of the music from the soundtrack of my life along with one my family had played when we said our final goodbye to the woman who gave up so much to raise a small tribe. It’s Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s beautiful mix of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” and “What A Wonderful World.” Hard to listen to now — but I know it will always take me back.

Hollie Grimaldi Flores is the business development manager at The Union. Contact her at hgflores@theunion.com.


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