I always find it fascinating how music can instantly transport you to another place and time in your life. It’s like a time machine, a TARDIS you can dance to. The other day I was streaming some music when John Denver’s classic hit “Country Roads” came on. Immediately I was swept away to Chongqing.
Many of you may be scratching your head because Chongqing is not the first thing that comes to mind when you hear “Country Roads.” In fact, you may be asking, What and where is a Chongqing? I’ll save you a trip to Google. Chongqing is a city in China’s Sichuan province that sits on the Yangtze river. It is about as far as you can get from West Virginia, yet it always comes to mind when I hear “Country Roads.”
As a younger man I spent a little over a year living in China. During that year I took a solo trip around the country to see the sites. One of these sites included the famous Three Gorges of the Yangtze River. I’ve blogged a bit about this before. The boat to sail down the river left from the city of Chongqing. I had almost a full day to kill before the boat left, but I didn’t wander too far from the docks. This was mainly because my limited Chinese vocabulary did not include the word docks, so if I got lost it would be a disaster.
In my aimless wandering I stumbled on a tea cafe. It was decorated like a forest. Even the plastic chairs and tables were made to look like tree stumps. Not in the mood for tea, I ordered a Coke and settled gently onto the flimsy plastic stump. The girl behind the counter took out the CD of Chinese pop music and replaced it with the CD of English standards that seemed to be in every karaoke machine in China. One of those standards was “Country Roads.”
As I sat there listening to John Denver singing, it struck me how far I was from the very country roads that I grew up on. This was not really a bout of homesickness, though, more like amazement and appreciation for the chance I had to roam so far and see so many new things. In the moment I recognized that this was an experience to be treasured. I guess that’s why it has stuck with me this long.
Songs help us retrieve experiences we have stored away in our mind. Perhaps that’s why we’re always nostalgic for the music of our youth. The great thing about life, though, is there are always more experiences and there is always new music. Go out and make some new memories. Do something fun. Listen to some new music. You’ll thank yourself later.
Here’s a link to the song for those of you who’ve never heard it.