Woolsey's album collection

Leonard Woolsey’s album collection.

I don’t need a gull-winged stainless steel sports car with a flux capacitor bolted to the rear to experience time travel. The magic of music is my chariot.

First of all, I love the now. The serendipity of the unknown or being unable to predict with whom my path will cross, or what lessons life might unwrap before my eyes are my favorite drug. If there is a default direction for my feet to point, it is forward.

The one exception, however, is music. I love the instant journeys brought on by hearing a song I first heard decades ago. The firing of millions of electrical connections inside my head quickly transports me back to moments in life I couldn’t remember on a bet.

Last night an Allman Brothers tune began filling the living room. Before the first six notes expired into the air, my mind placed me into a chair 20 years ago. Sitting in a screened-in porch in Georgia, surrounded by a swarm of tall pine trees and thirsty mosquitoes, my fingertips remembering the cold sweat dripping from a phantom bottle of beer.

Any song by Creedence Clearwater Revival surfaces memories of my wife’s late brother, complete with his gentle smile and electric eyes. Or whenever the band Journey boomerangs me to the sound of my wife reminding me how I stupidly declined her offer of free concert tickets during the first few months of dating. The music of Queen reminds me of my brother bringing their mind-bending music into the house. Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” delivers thoughts of a friend who, I swear, wore out the grooves of his first copy of the double-album.

The sound of the keyboards dancing by Thelonious Monk never fails to catapult me to Iowa. Driving gravel roads in Iowa with my wife and young son, clouds of white dust billowing behind, we were in search of the remote farm from the movie “Field of Dreams.” The memory of pitching a foam baseball to our son with the sun melting into surrounding cornfields remains as magical now as it was that night.

One of my favorite memories is tied to Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition.” While famous for cultural reasons, the notes never fail to transport me to laying in the living room with my brother, surrounded by sheets of paper and wax crayons.

Holding up the colorful cover of the LP, my mom encouraged us to draw what we heard in the music. After a brief explanation of the music, she left the room.

“I’ll check on you boys later,” she said. “Have fun.”

Today, as a parent, I can read a time-killer a mile away. But at that moment, my brother and I were locked into an exciting journey of unwrapping a riddle. And for that introduction to creative thinking, I will always be thankful.

Music is as emotionally powerful as the spoken word. But only music can send us back in time without a flux capacitor.

Leonard Woolsey: 409-683-5207; leonard.woolsey@galvnews.com

(4) comments

Bailey Jones

It was certainly a different world - when albums and books were things in and of themselves, apart from the music and literature they held. These days music is just that - music. I carry a few hundred songs around in my phone and always at least one book. In most cases I have no idea what the bands look like. And in most cases, the artists are bands that I would have never known if we still lived in the age of albums - when air play was limited to 40, 20 or even 10 hits, and trying out something new meant a trip to the store and an outlay of cash. Now, my music app recommends new music to me based on what it knows about me - and it knows me pretty well. I sold all my albums at a garage sale back in the 90s. And I quit buying CDs about 10 years ago. My music is always with me now, accessible over multiple smart devices streamed wirelessly to my "home entertainment center" or fancy noise canceling headphones. But the memories from my first live concert are still there. Hey Alexa, play me some Rick Wakeman.

David Schuler

Same here. My brother called a few days ago to ask what streaming service i use, and that question got me to thinking about the ability of future generations to access this form of time travel. When you don't own your music, it can disappear. Who knows what music will be available 40 years from now....? The other thing that helps with temporal displacement (as defined herein) is the vinyl album - not only do you have access to your music at any time, but you have access to your own personal copy, complete with all those annoying clicks and pops that make your copy utterly unique in the universe. Watching your original album go round and round, knowing that the needle is traversing the exact same points in space as it did 50 years ago (in the case of BS&T "And When I Die") works extraordinarily well,

Elizabeth Kelly


Diane Turski

Ha! Ha! This article about music time travel is very "timely" for me. I was able to time travel back to 1965 last night by attending the Rolling Stones concert at NRG stadium. It was especially nostalgic when they played "Satisfaction", which they also played at my first Rolling Stones concert back when "time was on our side."

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