Friday, January 20, 2012

Music and Memory

There’s just something about music. I am always amazed at the way a song can permanently attach itself to certain memory. I may not be thinking about a certain place, or time, or person…but I’ll hear a song, and suddenly it all comes back. The song plays, and I’m in that time, in that place, with those people...almost physically, it can be so vivid.

For example, any time I hear Gordon Lightfoot, I am transported back to Childhood Thanksgivings at my grandparents’ house in Midland, sitting by the fireplace while the adults talked, drank and laughed. When I hear “All I Wanna Do” by Sheryl Crow, I remember my mother embarrassing my 10-year-old self by dancing in the car in front of my classmates from school. I still hate that song. Kanye West’s “Golddigger” always brings back memories of the guy I knew in college who used to blast it (subwoofer rattling the walls) during his impromptu, Jack Daniels-infused “room parties”. Don McLean’s “American Pie” brings back memories of college and my fraternity, raising our glasses and singing along while dancing like idiots at the end of ANY major party.

I had a job one summer building houses, and nearly blew out the speakers in my mom’s car to and from work…because that’s when I bought the White Stripes’ “7 Nation Army”. Then there are songs that remind me of people I’ve hung by the pool with these last two sweltering Austin summers. You’d better run, better run, faster than my bullet. I WANT my MTV. Isn’t it good, Norwegian Wood.

The list goes on forever, like the road in the Robert Earl Keen song. The artist, or age, or genre of the song isn't important. It's what I was doing when I heard it.

I stopped by the record store on the way home yesterday, and browsed the “used” section in search of a bargain, or something cool. That’s when I found a little 4-song EP by the Shins. It has a version of their song “New Slang” on it, a duet with Austin singer-songwriter Sam Beam (aka Iron & Wine.) I popped it in the car, and suddenly I wasn’t stuck in traffic in Austin on an unseasonably warm, sunny January day in 2012. I was on a road trip on a chilly Super Bowl weekend, somewhere between Missouri and Kansas in 2006. That song got played to DEATH on that particular excursion, either on CD in the car or on my friend’s guitar in his brother’s dilapidated apartment.

It’s a beautiful, melancholy song with poetic lyrics, and it’s one you have to listen to multiple times in order to put together its meaning. That’s just what a bunch of crazy college kids did 6 years ago, and they did it again yesterday. Memories are never lost…they just go dormant for a while, until they’re found in a bargain bin many years and miles away.


  1. u have a lot of time on your hands LOL - Stormy

  2. That's why I'm writing stuff while I have the time!