A ‘Live and Let Die’ transport back in time

I’m driving along earlier this week to work, monkeying with the radio and on comes this song.

“When you were young and your heart, was an open book …. You used to say live and let live … you know you did, you know you did, you know you did …”

Instantly, I’m singing along, the lyrics as familiar to me as my route to the newspaper. I pictured myself poolside, where I’d often heard that tune, “Live and Let Die.”

It was the theme song from the James Bond film of the same name, performed by the British-American rock band Wings. Good old Paul McCartney of the Beatles.

Ahhh, the water-logged summer of 1973.

I was 15 years old, had long hair, a blue and white polka dot bikini, high hopes and no worries, spending that time at the home of my Aunt Kitty and Uncle George and cousins Barbara, Robert and Stephen Diab in Wilmington, N.C., just a spit from the beach.

My siblings and I affectionately called their home the Diab Hilton since it came with such wonderful amenities, none the least of which included a palatial home with air conditioning, a big pool, cousins my age to pal around with and a kind-hearted aunt who smiled and baked chocolate chip cookies and welcomed all the neighborhood kids who came daily to swim, playing “Marco Polo” and doing diving board tricks to exhaustion.

And did I mention there was an ocean and a boat at our disposal where I learned how to water ski?

After lots of trial and error, I finally realized you were supposed to let go of the ski rope when you fell. The boat driver would eventually circle around and get you back on board after a few playful shouts of “Shark!” first, of course.

At the time, my dad was working two jobs — one on the railroad, the other selling cars — and my mother was in Valencia, Spain, for the summer, going to school there to work on her master’s degree.

What to do with Janice? She couldn’t be like Kevin and stay “Home Alone.”

Mom would call her sister, Kitty, and make arrangements.

So south I went with no regrets whatsoever, the little country mouse off to the big city, on what was my very first airplane ride.

Just going to the Pittsburgh airport was a big deal.

That was back when people still dressed up to fly. I never felt so grown up and special as I did when the stewardess served me a Coke in a plastic cup, a little napkin and a bag of dry roasted Planters peanuts.

Wow. So this is how the other half lives, I’m thinking in my teenage brain.

It was the summer before my sophomore year at Jefferson Union High School, and I was pretty sure at the rate I was going, I’d have a nice tan when I took my seat in that first session of homeroom.

How cool is that?

As I drove to work the other morning, I had all these thoughts and memories return with a rush as powerful as high tide, and all because I was hearing “Live and Let Die” on the radio.

That’s what music can do. Certain songs can just stick in your head, the lyrics and tune forever familiar.

They give you a time-machine transport back to a different place in your life, including that wonderful summer of 1973.


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