Baby Blue and other songs that take me back to special people and places

patti dawn swansson

So, I stepped out of the shower the other morning and I could hear country legend George Strait crooning. The song was Baby Blue and I immediately thought of my beautiful daughter, Krystal.

Baby Blue was her favorite song for a time. Mine too.

Hearing it again served as a sweet reminder how music, perhaps more than anything else, links us to the special people and places that enrich our lives. Specific songs take us to a specific person, or to a specific place. This is the list of select songs that do that for me, and the people and places I recall warmly when I hear them.

Baby Blue, George Strait: I cannot hear to this tune without thinking of Krystal.

If I Fell, The Beatles: Lynn, first high school crush.

Blue Eyes Crying In the Rain, Willie Nelson: Heather, owner of The Toad in Osborne Village in Winnipeg. We’d have what we called “Willie Nights” when the barman played nothing but Willie Nelson tunes after closing. Heather and I would dance.

Dance with My Father, Luther Vandross: Terry. This was played at the memorial service for his father.

Fanny Be Tender, Bee Gees: Colleen, my lifelong crush. She was 21 and married, I was an 18-year-old kid when we met. Nothing ever happened, but I wanted it to.

You Needed Me, Anne Murray: Colleen, Part II. I’m still crushing on her after all these years.

Lady, Kenny Rogers: Sheila, a special, amazing, beautiful woman. What was I thinking when I left her?

Songs of Life, Neil Diamond: Sheila, Part II. And I still don’t know what I was thinking when I left her.

Pretty Woman, Roy Orbison: Sheila, Part III. Obviously, I wasn’t thinking when I left her. Dumb, dumber and dumbest.

Stormy Monday, Eric Clapton (or any great blues singer): Rhonda, another ex. My goodness, that woman had a voice. I heard her sing this in Brandon shortly after we began dating, and I was blown away.

Since I Fell for You, Barbra Streisand (or any of the great lady singers): Rhonda, Part II. She sang this for me in the lounge at the downtown Sheratan in Winnipeg. I was gobsmacked.

New York, New York, Frank Sinatra: Joan was my landlady when I first moved to Toronto in early 1980s. Great friend.

Imagine, John Lennon: Stephanie was a lady from Liverpool whom I met the night John Lennon died.

From This Moment On, Shania Twain: The was played at the first same-sex marriage I attended, for Rob and Derek. Rob left us a few years ago, but I always think of him and Derek when Shania sings this tune.

Girl from the North Country, Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash: My brother Mick. It’s the first song on the Bob Dylan classic Nashville Skyline. I gave that album to Mick long ago and he’s been a Dylan-ite ever since.

I Cross My Heart, George Strait: I always think of Harley Tucker, a fictional character and Strait’s love interest in the movie Pure Country, when I hear this song. I’d like a girl just like her.

Old Friends, Waylon and Willie: Johnny Murphy, late DJ at CFRY in Portage la Prairie, once took an article I wrote and read it verbatim on his show, playing the various tunes I mentioned in the piece. They included Old Friends. Then, when our mutual friend Friar Nicholson died, I played this song all morning.

Losing You, Alison Krauss: This is Saturday afternoons/evenings at Paparazzi, when owner/barkeep Terry allows me to switch the music to my favorite singer.

Till I Gain Control Again, Alison Krauss: I think of heaven, because her voice is angelic.

Roadhouse Blues, The Doors: Once upon a time, I hosted a talk show, Prime Time Sports, on CJOB in Winnipeg. This was my theme song.

Till, The Vogues: Glenice, my first. A truly beautiful soul who deserved better than me.


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