on amy grant and the subversive powers of nostalgia

i’ve touched on here before about how much i like amy grant. i want to talk about that some more now.

when i hear old amy grant tunes like baby baby, every heartbeat, that’s what love is for, and good for me, i feel awesome. it’s not just the superb pop songwriting, charming vocals, and oh-so-80’s-but-not-ridiculous production, though. part of the appeal is that it reminds me of being a kid — an 11 year old kid, to be precise.

(yup, i’ve posted this video on my blog before and i know that’s lame but i don’t care. it’s one of my favourite songs of all time and i think it deserves more careful consideration. so check it out again and enlighten your dumb selves, you clods. pay special attention to the synth solo that starts at 2:22 and the chord progression behind it. they’re fascinating, especially in the context of a massive pop hit.)

tonight i got to wondering why this particular nostalgia feels so good to me, what is so special about that period of my life. i realized that this song, and amy grant in general, reminds me of my grade 5 crush on diane lamoureux. sure, that’s a pleasant memory, but let’s go deeper — why is that crush such a pleasant memory?

i think there are a few factors at play here but the most important are these: first, in my ignorant 11 year old imagination, i pictured diane and myself together in perfect harmony, and with that, everything would be right in the world. we’d be happy and do fun stuff together and hold hands and every day would be a sunny summer vacation. i pictured it being 100% bliss, and i believed it really might happen like that. like a lot of other 11 year olds, i wasn’t aware of the fact that relationships are hell: there are arguments, deception, disillusionment — normal relationship stuff that every adult is innately conscious of. i had a hyper-simplified, delusional impression of what love and relationships were like. but you know what? though my impression of how things would go was deeply flawed, it felt amazing. it was pure ecstasy to think of what might be between diane and me.

the other important factor is that nothing ever ruined my fantasy. she never told me i smelled bad or that she didn’t like me that way, i never saw her hold hands with someone else and break my heart. the school year simply ended, we went our separate ways, i never saw her again, and i more or less forgot about her. it was the perfect ending, like something out of the wonder years.


one of my fave stories of the whole series, actually.

in a nutshell, my crush on diane lamoureux was the perfect childhood crush. and now that i have more life experience and know love isn’t like i envisioned it as a kid, it’s impossible for me to recapture the incredible, innocent joy that crush gave me…until i listen to amy grant, that is. then the grade 5 feeling comes flooding back, and it feels just as good now as it did then.

and that’s why i think i have such a strong reaction to ms. grant’s old pop songs. yup, they’re genuinely fantastic and deserving of much praise all on their own, but when you couple that stuff with the inimitable, blissful ignorance of young love, they conjure up a feeling that is well nigh impossible to beat.

i love digging, getting to know myself better.


hello me, meet the real me.

for the record, i don’t even know how well i knew diane lamoureux. i can’t remember if we hung out or even talked much, and i have no reason to believe she reciprocated my fondness at all. i think the whole romance was very likely nothing more than a fantasy within my tiny 11 year old mind. not that it matters. my recollection of it still feels good and that’s what counts.


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