Hardly using the car anymore, there is little possibility of listening to the CD player. I wonder what I shall do with my stack of Compact Discs, most of which were bought when I was driving thirty thousand miles a year and which became familiar friends on many journeys.
There are some unlikely discs among the collection, music by artists probably unknown to people twenty or even ten years younger.
Among the eclectic selection is a collection of hits by The Stylistics. In the 1970s, admitting a familiarity with the work of The Stylistics would have courted ridicule among most of my male friends in teenage days. To have revealed a capacity for reciting whole chunks of some of their songs would have destroyed the last shred of any credibility I might have possessed.
But, no matter about ridicule, there was something about their music that seemed to create an atmosphere. Maybe it was something to do with the soul music that surrounded teenage years. Maybe it was to do with teenage romance. Maybe it was simply because it had a distinctive sound.
One track, Betcha, by golly, wow was only heard for the first time at least thirty years later. It seems always more distinctive than the others.
Betcha, by golly, wow has something indefinable about it, something that slips beyond the consciousness before even it has taken shape. It is subliminal in its effect, creating a sense of both unease and happiness.
Perhaps there is something in the music itself that gives it an evocative power, although it is not dissimilar to other tracks by the group. Perhaps it is the distinctive voice of The Stylistics vocalists, although their style does not vary from one song to another. Perhaps it is simply a process of association that endows the song with an enduring quality.
Maybe it is the subconscious links that are formed that create the appeal. Maybe it’s not the song, but the time from which the song comes that matters, yet that cannot be a full explanation.
Certainly there are songs that go with certain times, songs associated with certain memories, songs that will conjure certain moments, but there are other songs, recorded by bands during my childhood days, and not heard until years later, that do not have a similar enduring power.
Betcha, by golly, wow, recorded in 1972, is a song with a power that is a mystery.