THE SCENT OF A MELODY by Thomas Putnam
I was in a play at Mansfield University in the summer of my 16th birthday. (I remember it was my 16th because I had just gotten my driver's license and got a ticket driving home very late one June night from rehearsal! Yeah...for speeding. It's a good thing the policeman wasn't around when I had turned off my headlights because the moon was so bright and I wanted to see if I could drive without them.) Sorry...I digress.
I was in a play with college students and faculty (I was the only high school student) and in one scene my character climbed up into the bedroom loft with his former but still dear girlfriend and we were to make-out on the bed. The most memorable thing about that romp on the bed was the actress's perfume. It was mesmerizing...and memorable. I don't remember that co-ed's name, nor have I ever had any contact with her since. But, over the many decades since, I have instantly thought of her when I happened to smell that perfume. I don't remember the name, but wow, does that perfume take me back to those nights on the old Allen Hall stage.
What makes MY WAY work is hearing a melody that Frank Sinatra used to sing (or still sings if you listen to recordings or other avenues.) None of the four singers in this revue which opens on September 16 even begins to try to sound like Sinatra, but the tunes....oh, those tunes. In this case it's not the sound of Sinatra's singular voice that stirs us, but the remembrance of that melody.
Like that perfume from long ago, the scent of a melody transmits us back to another time or place or company or situation. Some of these melodies most of us have heard, I bet, a hundred times, and that scent is strong; sometimes triggering a very, very specific moment in our lives (like making out in the loft on Allen Hall stage), and for better or for worse we are broadened by the memory. Breathe deeply.