Of all the senses, smell is the sense that is the most closely associated with memory. Some smells can transport you through time almost instantaneously. A whiff of a long-forgotten perfume and you can almost taste your first kiss. And while the sense most closely associated with smell is taste, not too far below those senses is sound. If there's one thing that can take you back in time, take you back to those feelings, to that moment...it's the music. There are a lot of firsts in your life - but I bet one you'll never forget is that first song you cranked after you got your driver's license.

As a teenager, it was a right of passage. Getting your license was the literal key to at least some freedom while you were still living at home. The moment you got it and could drive on your own, you felt it. You were "on your own." Now you at least had a little independence while you were still living under your parents' roof. I grew up in Alaska, so I was able to get a motorcycle license at 14. We had nothing like driver's education in Anchorage, so when I turned 16, all I had to do was take the road test, and I was on my own.

Some friends and I were on a Zoom call catching up the other day. We got to reminiscing about the music we were listening to when we were teenagers. I didn't realize how much of the music I listened to was tied to those memories. The first song I EVER listened to on my own was G N' R's "Welcome to the Jungle." Driving into work on the 190 today, Jen Austin (who's on from 10a-3p) played "Welcome to the Jungle." All of a sudden, it was like I was 16 again, on my own, ready for whatever adventure may find me. It was as clear as could be; I was turning off Northwood and driving down the Seward Hiway (the 190 reminds me A LOT of Anchorage), stereo up as loud as it would go in my Ford "EXP," (that car ended up costing me a lot more than it was worth, but I still have these great memories that I wouldn't trade for the world) singing, badly, at the top of my lungs. I can still smell the Fireweed in the air.

I have to drive to Rochester every few weeks, and driving the 90 is one of the best places to just let the music take over and let those memories wash over you. Of course, I have to use cruise control so I don't get into the music "too much." Erie and Monroe County Sherrif's don't care WHAT you were listening to. They'll write those tickets all day. Driving down Elmwood is another drive I like to take during the summer. Windows down, sunroof open, just watching people sitting on the patios having a drink (PC - Pre-Covid) enjoying the sun. Music has always been in the background, the soundtrack to my life. No matter where I am or what I'm doing, the right song takes me back to that time and place.

Do you remember the first song you cranked up after getting your license? If you feel like sharing, I'd love to hear from you. Drop me a line or text me through the 'BUF App or send an e-mail (Crowley at wbuf dot com).

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