Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Power of Music Memory

A song came over the radio playing in the background at work one day last week, and it's one that always triggers an immediate visceral reaction from me - Elton John's "Benny and the Jets."

Another one that promotes a similar, almost as strong reaction is perhaps less known to some people and completely unknown to anyone under the age of 50 - Blues Image's "Ride Captain Ride."

What is it about these songs, that they have such power over me? They are pop songs, no doubt; not classic music in any true sense.

It's more about who I was, where I was, where my head and soul was at the time those songs were popular. I hear the first bar of music, and I time-travel to a very specific place and time, and I know every note and word of the song.

Other songs have specific connections.

Trooper and "We're Here for a Good Time" and Boz Scaggs singing "Lido Shuffle." • College

John Prine singing "Grandpa Was A Carpenter" and Chris deBurgh's "Patricia the Stripper." • Driving through the Mojave Desert to San Diego in the middle of winter.

Elton John and Leon Russell's duet "Gone to Shiloh"; JJ Cale and Eric Clapton's duet "Heads in Georgia"; The Dixie Chicks "Not Ready to Back Down." • Long drives to and from the North Country.

Rod Stewart singing "Maggie May." Neil Diamond singing "You Don't Bring Me Flowers Anymore." James Blunt and Sarah McLachlin • Poignant days.

Smell is a powerful memory trigger as well. The smell of a wool scarf over my nose immediately propels me to the Grade 1 cloak room and childhood winters. Horse sweat wafting in the air sends me to a corral and a pasture of the early 1960s out on the prairie, when summers were endless and the high scream of red-tail hawks playing on the thermals pierced the superheated air perfumed with sage and buffalo grass.

Memories of good times, happy times, troubling times. Memories that remind me that my life has been full of love and adventure and risk and contentment.

… And I come to find a refuge in the

Easy silence that you make for me
It's okay when there's nothing more to say to me
And the peaceful quiet you create for me
And the way you keep the world at bay for me
The way you keep the world at bay

         ~ Dixie Chicks 

1 comment:

  1. Music can be a powerful thing. 'Harvest Moon' by Neil Young has a strange effect on me.