About once a year I'm caught off guard by FM radio randomly playing UB40's 'Red Red Wine.' In a microsecond I'm transported to kindergarten when half-days were the norm. I was part of the AM class with a lunchtime release. The year was 1989.
Lil' me and a few other students waited outside the classroom for the childcare van. Once we got the signal, we walked to the teacher's parking lot and hopped inside the shiny white vessel. The driver (who is faceless now, faded by time) would let someone different sit in the front seat with him. And one magical sunny day he selected me. Oooooooooohhhhhhh, boy!
My shoes couldn't touch the van floor, and my head stretched to see outside the window. West Phoenix, back then, was a green-lawned suburb that, over the decades, gradually became poverty-stricken. Still, the clean and quiet suburb swept by while the van picked up other kids at different schools.
The other kids were seriously jealous because they never got to sit up front, as my school was the first stop on the route to childcare. I suppose it was a bit unfair to the other children, but who gave a darn! I was in the front on my throne, and then UB40's 'Red Red Wine' played on the radio.
That, my friends, is why this song means so much to me. Before adulthood responsibilities, before adolescent drama, and way before puberty, there was me, up front, sun splashing on my grin, legs dangling, with this song bookmarking one of the happiest moments from childhood.
So whenever I'm in a mood and need a lift, I play this song:
Red, red wine, it's up to you
All I can do I've done
Memories won't go, memories won't go