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The Secret Reason I Love Going To The Grocery Store

And it has nothing to do with food.

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The secret reason I love Going to the Grocery Store
Girlfriend Staff (Gallery Stock; Shutterstock (2))
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I’ve reached the point in life where I look forward to going to the grocery store. It’s a place where I can take my time, escape from reality for a bit as I peruse the bakery aisle and grab a cold Diet Coke at checkout to enjoy on the ride home. There might have been a time or two when I slipped a tabloid onto the conveyor belt as I imagined myself sinking into my bed to indulge in the latest celebrity gossip later that night.

The reason I fall into a semi-meditative state as I stroll by the freezer section (that senses your body heat or something and lights up as you pass, which still impresses me) is the music.

Grocery stores around the country have perfected the art of playing songs that take you back to your childhood. Each classic hit is played at the perfect volume, and the melody is always slow enough to pump the brakes of the roller coaster in your head but not so slow you want to snooze as soon as you reach the ice cream aisle.

While shopping the other day, “Come to My Window” by Melissa Etheridge started playing and padding through the aisles, singing every word in my head, I was suddenly back in high school, lying in the sun slathered with tanning accelerator and lemon juice in my hair.

When the song was over, and I came back to reality, I realized this is why going to the grocery store makes me feel like I’ve been on a mini vacation. Here are some of my favorite grocery store bangers:

Cyndi Lauper, “Change of Heart”

I know this isn’t played as much as some of her other hits like “True Colors” and “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” but I love it just as much. For some reason, I only hear it at the grocery store. Something about Cyndi’s voice makes my years as an awkward teenager in the ’80s seem less scary. Her music was fun and bubbly, and my friends and I wanted to listen to it when we were together.

Counting Crows, “Round Here”

This is such a soothing song. It takes me back to my freshman year of college when everything was crisp, new and exciting. My roommate had the CD, and we’d listen to it every night while we fell asleep. I still know every word to every song on the August and Everything After album, and when this song comes on, I see the yellow and black CD case we used to keep on top of our CD player.

Christopher Cross, “Sailing”

I heard this for the first time in decades last January while shopping for my favorite chili recipe. I instantly got chills and could picture my parents’ blue Caprice Classic. We used to listen to this song while taking road trips, and at the time, I hated slow music like this (I wanted Cyndi Lauper), but now, it soothes my soul. Since that cold afternoon, I’ve heard it a few times while grocery shopping. I may have added it to my running playlist.

Guns N’ Roses, “November Rain”

If you’ve ever danced to this (or tried to) at a high school dance, you are probably like me — wincing at the hormone angst it can stir up. In its heyday, the deejay always saved this song for the last slow dance. It was long, and the end made you feel strange slow dancing, yet it was too awkward to start fast dancing, and no one really knew what to do.

Paula Abdul, “Forever Your Girl”

This will always be the first song I think of when a teenage summer memory flashes through my mind. I’d be at home with my sister, MTV was always on, and the first time I saw Paula dance on television, I tried to mimic every move.

Vanessa Williams, “Save the Best for Last”

This song tore my heart apart in high school after a breakup, and it still gets to me. Her smooth voice, the lyrics, and the fact that this song is filled with so much hope still make my eyes water. I don’t care if the person next to me wonders why I’m crying while I pick out the best apples. This song is a tear-jerker.

Dan Fogelberg, “Same Old Lang Syne”

I know they only play this during the holidays, but it takes me down every time. I’m back in the ’80s when I didn’t understand why they were playing a song that didn’t seem Christmas-y at all. Now I get it. The holidays stir up so many emotions. All it takes is for me to hear this in my grocery store in late November for me to have it on repeat at home.


This special issue of The Girlfriend is devoted to music and how it shapes — and strengthens — our memories. For more on this topic from AARP, including videos, events and memory games, visit aarp.org/musicandmemory

Do YOU love grocery store music? Do you even notice it? Let us know in the comments below.

Follow Article Topics: Lifestyle