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I find it fascinating the way our minds automatically link things to our memories. With every sense you can be reminded of an occasion from your past; the taste of a childhood snack, the smell of an old car or the feel of a retired Teddy bear. What fascinates me even more is the connection to music. When you think about an artist sat in the studio trying to come up with their latest hit, it seems bonkers to think that a few years down the line that same tune could mean a million different things to a million different people. You could pack a stadium full of people and play them all the exact same song, but everybody would have an almost entirely unique experience based on what kind of a memory that song may have connected with for them.
When we think of songs linked with memories we often think of the big moments in our lives that may have been accompanied by some sort of soundtrack. When I hear 'Rather Be', for example, I'm transported back to my graduation where a string quartet performed the piece upon our entry. However, I also love those little moments where music can take you back to something that seems relatively insignificant, and otherwise may have been forgotten. Moments that we would have no need to remember otherwise get stored in our brains simply because of their connection to a song. Since losing my dad I've had numerous moments where music has brought him back to me. These memories that seem small, maybe me simply enjoying the song in question in the car with him or watching telly together, are now pristinely preserved through music, and I have to say would not have been so vividly recollected otherwise. I can't express how important these moments are to me now and how emotionally rewarding it can be to be able to relive them in my head. The simple things are often what people miss the most, and would not usually be so clearly remembered without the intrinsic connection music has with memory. It seems absurd that an arrangement of sound waves put together by a stranger can have such strong implications for us, but that is really the magic of art, and music in particular.
With this in mind, I have a new proposal. How often do you find the time to flick through old photo albums? This has become somewhat less of a task in the digital world, but we all know about those cumbersome, dusty and messy collections of printed photographs sat in the cupboard. In our busy lives we often just don't have the time to spend looking through old treasures like these, and for me that's a tragedy. Losing someone so close has made me realise the pricelessness of memories, sentiment and reminiscing, and for me this is something we don't get to do enough.
What we all do, however, is listen to music. I spend so much of my life with music on, whether in my headphones whilst I'm busy getting on with gardening, in the car on a long drive or just even at home while I'm chilling out. So why not make the most of it?
Although it may be hard on the spot to think of all the songs that bring up memories in this way, especially as often you don't know until you hear them, I suggest that you keep an ear out over the next few months and jot down any music you discover that transports you into the past. With this list, we can essentially create our own musical photo album. Instead of filing through faded pictures and digging around in the cupboards, we can have a simple playlist. Put it on when you want to reminisce or escape and enjoy being whisked away into the past, experiencing in unimaginable realism the people we miss or the simpler times we crave again. The fabulous thing about this is that you can keep adding to it the more you hear and you can listen whenever and wherever. Not only can we keep our memories alive, but through music we can make sure that we enjoy them to the fullest.
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