Sunday, February 3, 2008

Music and Memory

I find that music, like the sense of smell, is closely tied to nostalgia. One may smell fresh cut grass and think of peewee football, his first home, or a college campus. One may also listen to The Clash and think of high school, the history channel, or a bad date at a dive bar.

Music often transports me when I least expect it.

Upon hearing Dancing Nancies by Dave Matthews band, I think of a campfire with friends and guitars; a midnight drive in high school when I jumped out of the car at a stop sign and began to dance in the headlights as my friend rolled down the windows, turned up the volume and laughed; an intimate night with a girlfriend.

Upon hearing Alison Krauss singing Slumber My Darling, I think of a time when my brother was in devastating circumstances, sunken on my thrift store chair, and healed through tears while listening to her voice.

Upon hearing Dollars and Cents by Radiohead, I'm transported to a midnight session of text books, coffee, computer and frustration of marathon studying for college finals.

Upon hearing the Hairspray soundtrack, I'm on the back of the stage of the Neil Simon theater, hearing my wife's foot steps pounding out the dance number of You Can't Stop the Beat as her silhoeutte sways over an empty stage.

And upon hearing Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings, I'm in multiple places simultaneously: on the couch with my brother in a rented house and reverie, in a shuttle bus at the airport with my head in the stratosphere, with a good book and good coffee.

I find that music is a constantly cascading photo album that turns to an obscure page when I least expect it and sucks me into a memory all but forgotten.


  1. Gotta love the dmb.

    You're right about music and memory. It's like when you see an old friend and despite all the "catching up" to do, you don't have much to talk about. The spirit is willing but you don't know the new friends, or jobs, and you're quickly back to talk of the good ol' days. A familiar story and the time between melts as if it had never been there.

    When you're alone and that old song comes on, it's just as you describe. A connection to another time.

    I think it's funny how we didn't know we'd be needing these bridges.

  2. Music is a good time machine. The great thing is, everyone can relate to this. Of course, OUR experiences and memories are the best...naturally:)

  3. When I hear "All along the Watchtower" I think of 2 brothers and the occasional schmo banging it out on the guitar in the living room of my apartment. Complete decadence comes to mind also but we won't talk about that now.

    Good insight my friend.

  4. It is almost mystical the way that this happens. It seems to be a memory of emotion that music envokes. I remember more strongly the way i felt while listening to a song rather than the actual event that might be associated with it. But I think that is part of the role of all communicate what we feel, but can't always express.

  5. Very sweet recollections! Love you broeph... I needed a good read before relaxing once again because of my head booming. Praise God for carrot and apple juice. great writing and sweet word.