When I moved to Orlando permanently in the fall of 1991, I was 21 and sharing an apartment with other Disney cast members. The previous summer, I did the college program and when I returned home that September, I made the decision to move to Florida permanently within the year. I lived in Disney housing for a short while and then eventually found an apartment with some friends.
My transportation was an old, red Hyundai Excel that barely got me from place to place (omg remember those? They were the first Hyundais, I believe). Of course, it had a standard tape deck and in the compartment between the driver and the passenger seats were the only cassette tapes I owned: Wilson Phillips’ debut album, “Wilson Phillips” – favorite song is Hold On. Elton John’s “Goodbye, Yellow Brick Road” – favorite song is the title song. And, James Taylor’s Greatest Hits. I’d be hard-pressed to choose a favorite James Taylor song, but among my top three are: Fire and Rain, Up On the Roof, and Sweet Baby James. I played these three tapes until they wore out. And I knew every song by heart.
Music is powerful stuff. These three albums take me right back to the years between 1988 and 1991. I was still trying to figure everything out then and I guess this music, these artists, and their songs, sort of helped me along.
Wilson Phillips’ song “Hold On” always makes me smile. No doubt because of the final scene in the movie Bridesmaids 🙂 but also because I remember turning the volume up and singing at the top of my lungs with my sunroof open (note: I felt particularly luxurious to have a sunroof!). I was making pitiful money at Disney and was lucky my car didn’t cause me more trouble than it did, because I couldn’t afford much. But Disney is where I wanted to work and Orlando is where I wanted to be and I could feel good things were coming. So, I just held on, like the girls in Wilson Phillips told me to do.
Elton John was another story altogether.
Back home, in late 1988 and all of 1989, I worked at the Disney Store at the Burlington Mall. Every night after we closed the huge glass doors at the entrance, the cashiers counted their money and the rest of us restocked, replenished, and cleaned everything. It took at least an hour, sometimes longer.
To help keep us awake, our manager brought in music. One of the tapes was Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. We played that album over and over again every night for an entire month. I liked Elton John, but after that experience, I became a fan and decided I had to have a copy for my very own. Bennie and the Jets brings me right back to my 18 and 19-year old self rearranging the huge Plush Mountain of stuffed animals at the back of the Disney store.
And finally, there’s James Taylor. No finer, smoother voice in American music, right? I realize this particular Greatest Hits album (volume 1) came out when I was really young, but it’s still amazing. A quick Google search told me it’s his biggest selling album of his career. No surprise there. This is one album I can honestly say I know by heart. I played this tape constantly in my car to and from work and when one day the tape broke (omg) I ran out and bought a new one the exact same day at a rather seedy record shop on Orange Blossom Trail. (Don’t let the name fool you. Parts of OBT are icky.)
The first time I really listened to the lyrics of Sweet Baby James I immediately thought of my son. His eyes are a mix of deep greens and blues, as the lyrics go.
My eyes don’t have any blue in them; they’re more of a green/brown mix to create a hazel. The green intensifies depending on what I wear and what kind of makeup I might have on my eyes at the time.
My two girls both have green eyes, too. Just like my son. But it’s cool to me that all three of them have different hues. My older daughter has more of the hazel green like me. My younger daughter goes back and forth between a green and an aquamarine blue. I was curious about where my son’s eyes fall in the mix, so I texted him today asking if he would precisely describe the color of his eyes. (Not a strange request at all, right?)
He returned my text quickly and said his eyes are more of a blue/gray/green, but they change often depending on a number of external and internal factors.
I love that the four of us – my son, my daughters and me – all share this common bond.
So I take back what I said earlier. I guess I can pick my favorite James Taylor song.