It was early May of 1991. I was on my way to the Canadian International Development Agency in Ottawa to start my first summer intern job five months after I set my foot onto the New World of North America. I stopped in Toronto for a few days to visit my friends there.
I was in a hustling and bustling big shopping mall in downtown Toronto. It’s springtime after almost half a year’s winter dormant. There was an unmistakenly cheerful, even ecstasy atmosphere in the air that only Canadians would understand and appreciated.
Suddenly, I heard some small musical voices chanting over the air in that busy shopping mall.
“I can read your mind! I can read your mind!”
The melody was captivating; however, the rest of the song and music were quickly swallowed by a burst of laughter of a group of teenagers walking by.
The very young me was still a big believer in “mind-reading” because I deemed myself not easy to read. I thought then believed the very sophisticated mind of mine was deeply hidden behind my seemly naive or indifferent aloof facade. Only decades later and older, I came to the realization that I was actually an easy-to-read very innocent person inside out.
So, back then, when someone whispered through the air that they could read my mind, that’s a very tempting proposition. I would want to know more.
That’s an era before the internet, before Shazam. The ways to chase down a fragment of music I overheard in the air were limited to the music CD records stores or the public FM musical radio channels.
The chance of success was almost as close as winning a lottery big.
In the music CD records stores, usually, there were sampling CDs, and you could put the earphone on to listen and scan through them. Occasionally, when you showed a strong desire to buy a particular CD that was not on the sampling pool, you could ask the staff to open it so you can check the songs on that CD. And it was almost a tortured decision time even after you scanned through the entire CD and realized you only got lucky to like one-third of the songs on that CD. I did buy quite a few CDs just for the sake of the single song I liked among the usually twelve to fifteen songs on a CD.
I also remember those very intimidating moments when I returned the opened CD to the staff when I decided it was not worth owning. I was desperately hoping that the overly exaggerated, disappointing apologetic expression on my face would ease the staff’s disappointment. The anxiety of anticipating the staff’s possible angry reactions when I returned the un-wanted opened CDs almost could cast long-term psychological damage on me, should my CD music hunting days have had lasted for another decade.
Finally, Google came along around in 2003. Suddenly, I could track down the long lost songs as long as I knew the fragment of the lyrics. Then I could go to the CD store armed with the title and followed the torture moment of whether I should buy the CD just for that song or skip.
Over the years, I overheard this song a couple of times in the air. Still, I always failed to capture enough lyrics fragments to search on the internet and find out what precisely this song was about.
It was probably not until the summer of 2018 I finally successfully used another even better song snatcher — Shazam — to nail down this song.
It was called “Eye in the Sky,” written back in 1982.
For the first time, I was able to pull up the lyrics and studied them. To my slight disappointment, it was not as bourgeois, vague, and abstract as I had been wondering and imagining over the twenty-seven years since I first time heard it. It is actually more a rant right after a domestic quarrel between two lovers.
But the song is a charming one.
I am grateful that I have an above-average ear for music. Armed with Google and Shazam, I recovered many songs I heard and liked but could not get hold of, particularly the first decade when I landed my feet on the New World. I put them in a Spotify folder called “Before Shazam.”
In regards to who can read my mind and move me deeply, I now would name “Shazam” as one of them without any hesitation,
Without its help, how can I quickly and precisely snatch the thread of beautiful words or melody floating in the air before they disappear as swiftly and suddenly as they come?