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lynyrd skynyrd and Proust

 Unexpectedly, a bit of my teen years in suburban Atlanta visited my son's French elementary school yesterday. As part of a show and tell, one of his roommates brought a guitar and played a riff from Freebird. Freebird! I looked down my seventeen year old nose at Lynyrd Skynnyrd and basically all Southern rock of the seventies. But perhaps that music had its revenge on me, for I can, actually, in a mesmeric trance, lipsync Freebird.

I wonder what Proust would do with this material? The agents of the memory that unleashes In Search of Lost Time are taste and smell - the taste of madeleines, the most common cookie, and the smell of various perfumes and flowers. If, however, the young Marcel had lived in Clarkston, Georgia, I'm pretty sure the agent of memory would be sound - the sound on the radio of pop songs. Some station in Atlanta, in the seventies, got the kids up to go to high school by playing, every day, Dylan's Rainy Day women song (they stone you when you're going to make a buck...). Lynyrd Skynyrd was everywhere in my high school. Or I should say at the white end of my high school - though the school was officially de-segregated, there were few black students in my classes.
If you look at American pop culture and the way it acts as a memory agent, you see some interesting things. Every aging truck driver and secretary is in search of lost time, and they pursue it through the songs of their teen years. Now, we have infinite numbers of concert films from the seventies on YouTube, so you can even wallow in the high with which you went to see the Allman Brothers at Piedmont Park, or whatever. Myself, thinking I was quite the outlaw, never went to any of these concerts, and yet here I am, washed up in France, remembering "and this bird you cannot chaaaange (or is it chain?)" and thinking of comrades, now retiring, who sat next to me in classes that I can barely remember the purpose of. All the ships at sea eventually go down to the bottom.
But this bird you cannot chain.

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