“Do You Remember…?”
By Stephen Doherty
“Time doesn’t really ‘march on’. It tends to tip-toe. There’s no parade. No stomping of boots to alert you to its passing. One day, you turn around and it is gone.”
With those three iconic words, “Do you remember…?” Earth, Wind, and Fire cut loose their fabulous hit single September, in 1978, and the dance floors of America have never been the same. I was a twenty-two-year-old college kid with bell-bottoms bellowing, silk shirt flowing, and puka shells shining! It was Thursday night (ANY Thursday night) and I had scraped together eight quarters which meant that in the eyes of the law and any nightclub in Colorado–I had the keys to the beer keg and all I could drink for the next six hours! The beer and the sweat were flowing as the club swelled to capacity and the “mingling” was just beginning to intensify. All of a sudden, the DJ dropped the needle on September, and the club erupted in shouts and screams as we all scrambled for a suitable dance partner. The music was uplifting and you couldn’t help but smile while gyrating to its tune. It was a special time and place that none of us will ever forget. Our lives weren’t ahead of us, but right in front of us. We were young and life was eternal and exhilarating!
Fast forward forty-years, and suddenly I found myself crowded into the back yard of a CU-Boulder fraternity Party with my daughter, Julia-and several hundred other people sporting CU-garb-blasting back suds and trying to capture the moment. It was Parent’s Weekend and aside from the students-you had the spectacle of hundreds of moms and dads visiting their CU kids and trying to re-capture some of that lost fairy dust of their youth. Being good sports and not forgetting where their tuition money came from-every single party was blaring out tunes from the 70s and 80s. Suddenly, September came blaring through the monstrous speakers and for a moment, I was in a different time and place. I closed my eyes and moved with the music and found myself straddling that very tall fence between yesterday and today. My heart raced as the music touched senses and nerves that hadn’t been plugged in, in decades. The joy and energy of the day juxtaposed with the decades-old memories of my own youth were quite intoxicating-if only for the moment.
The afternoon soon faded into the evening and Julia and I headed for the football game and then dinner and breakfast as the Parent’s Weekend came to a close. With the benefit of hindsight, I was reminded of several things. Sobriety isn’t fully appreciated until the next day at breakfast. Nothing I ever did as a teenager can compare with being the father of a quite remarkable daughter. Looking back on our years we tend only to see the highlights of our youth. There is nothing quite so beautiful as a college campus in October. It’s probably just as well that we were only young once and few things radiate more joy and energy than a young lady who has always radiated joy and energy.
Finally, in answer to the iconic words that began this epic song? Of course, I remember….some things in life we’ll carry with us forever. For me, this song was part of an amazing soundtrack that checkered my youth and, thankfully, occasionally comes wafting through the mists of time to pay me a short but special visit.
Do you remember the twenty-first night of September?
Love was changing the mind’s pretenders
While chasing the clouds away
Our hearts were ringing in the key
That our souls were singing as we danced in the night
Remember..how the stars stole the night away….
–Earth Wind and Fire