Sometimes I listen to random music and it takes me back to specific moments in my life. I can still remember my first single. “Rebel Yell” by Billy Idol. I was playing tether ball in the play ground at school when someone mentioned him and I went off to find out who he was and what the fuss was about. I was always a little late to pick up new music and to keep up with the other kids.
The first tape my mother bought me was Madonna’s first album. I must have played “Borderline” a hundred times. The Cutting Crew came soon after. What was I thinking?
As the year have gone by there have been specific songs that have made an impact. My first gig in Los Angeles was Crowded House at the Wiltern Theater. I had a mad crush on Neil Finn.
My first real boyfriend gave me my first Cure album and introduced me to “A Night Like This”.
R.E.M. was frequently on my play list and drove my friends crazy. Not rock and roll enough.
Some songs just stick with me because they remind me of people, events or feelings.
“Don’t You Forget About Me” – Simple Minds reminds me of my brother.
“A Question of Time” – Depeche Mode is Paul, my friend’s older brother who was seven years older than me and sent me my first flower arrangement after we met at a party. We were both gutted when we discovered we were the wrong age for each other. Sure, seven years is no big deal when you’re adult, but when you’re 14, it’s not only devastating, it’s illegal. (no nothing happened). Of course, in one of life’s little ironies, we met again when I was 21 years old and he was married with a 2 year old…alas…
“Swollen” – Bent is my favourite song and seems to follow me around. If you want to get to me, tell me you like that song. We’ll be talking music all day.
“Black” – Pearl Jam is Jeff, a friend who died rock climbing with friends on the 4th of July 1994. He was just 24 years old and had just finished his training to become a paramedic. During he training, which often saw him up before dawn, he would often come over and sit in my kitchen where I made him coffee to get him ready for the day. On one occasion, he even visited me with his team and an ambulance to show me the life-saving gadgets within. I still have a made up medical report he did for me at the time. He once told me that the lyric “I know someday you’ll have a beautiful life…” in that song made him sad.
“Noah’s Dove” – 10,000 Maniacs reminds me of sitting in the car park at university waiting for class to start. A history lecturer came out to me from one of the classrooms to tell me that I had the music too loud in my car. Oops.
“Honey Honey” reminds me both of my mother because she was a big ABBA fan and because we used to dance around the livingroom to it and it reminds me of a drive home after helping a friend paint his flat. My arms were sore from the paint roller, I was covered with grey paint, making my dungarees unwearable for anything else and I felt like I was going to fall asleep at the wheel. As I put on some music to chum me home, that song came on. I can’t listen to it without thinking of how much fun we had getting the job done. I hear that song and think of him.
“Come As You Are” by Nirvana reminds me of the last glimpses I got of the Golden Gate Bridge and the city as I left San Francisco to move to London in 1997. It was on the local radio station as I crossed the Bay Bridge.
“Sea Change” and “Long Distance” remind me the most fun I’ve had at a gig in a while.
I could go on and on, but the point is that music unlocks memories. Lyrics can say something in your head that you can’t express yourself.
Think about how music has influenced memories. We all have our own personal soundtrack. Think about yours and write about what music has meant to you.