The power of music memories

There won’t be many things that unite almost every person in the world, there really isn’t a lot that we can all have in common. If I was to pick one thing that I think could unite people from all over our rather large globe more than anything else I would say it is music. 

From classical compositions to tribal chants to recognisable jingles to Ed Sheeran’s lastest single. Rhythm and beats are everywhere and they could be far more powerful than we realise.

I’m not talking about the influence that choosing the correct music can have on us, for example the soundtracks of shops, or backing tracks to film and TV trailers or even the pumping tunes blaring at your local gym – though all these do show the power music has. No, I’m referring to the power music memories have over visual ones, like photographs.

There are copious amounts of anecdotes I could choose from to explain myself… That one song the clubs played endlessly whilst you and your girlfriends were holidaying in Spain in 2015, the monotonous heartbreak songs you shamelessly had on repeat when your boyfriend of a whole month broke up with you when you were 16, the cheesey Mamma Mia numbers you and your sister sing along to in your car… 

Certain songs can evoke the most powerful feelings and emotions, more so than looking at photographs. These days we take photos of anything and everything, millennials everywhere kneeling on chairs to get the most symmetrical snap of their avo on toast, nightclub toilets no longer used for hygiene reasons but for mini amateur photoshoots of girls in skin tight dresses with a backdrop of hairspray haze. But the more photos we take the more meaningless each one becomes. When we have thousands stored on our phones, will we really ever look back at them all, lost in a cloud of sentimentality? Probably not if there are hundreds of cute dog screenshots to get through first. Are we more conscious of getting a good picture of something interesting rather than just enjoying whatever is our lenses are pointed at? It’s all so artificial and staged now, how genuine are these mementos after they’ve been through a washing machine spin of filters and editing apps? 

When I go through old print outs from holidays with my best friend as a teenager I ‘coo’ and I ‘ahh’ in all the right places, and I do find them interesting… But having to use disposable cameras (yep, remember those?!) you could only ever snap and hope for the best. Not like the click happy thumbs of teens on their state of the art camera phones these days. This can of course add hilarity to them, but it allowed to us to just enjoy the spontaneity of it all, of running away from boys we thought might talk to us but actually hadn’t even noticed our pasty little legs scooting off. Of floating about in rubber rings whilst holding hands so neither of of floated off to a death by jellyfish. 

The best way to feel like I’m back in those moments though is by listening to songs that formed the soundtrack to our adventures. Those feelings can’t be altered by slapping the X Pro II filter on if they’re not perfect, and you can’t dilute the embarrassing bits by chucking those particular ones out. 

I have so many musical memories stored away, unleashed when I put certain playlists on or when an unexpected track is on the radio, and each one lasts a few minutes and absorbs me into an almost hypnotic state. 

Create a playlist after a holiday filled with all the songs the clubs and bars played, download that song you and your friends did an impromptu Kareoke Carpool to, put a specific artist on when you have people over for dinner. Don’t focus on capturing perfect moments on your phone when all that’ll do is stop you enjoying it then and there, instead send your friends YouTube music videos of songs that meant something and share the memories that way! 

iTunes provides suggested playlists. The amount of country music themed ones they give me is worrying.

Here a few examples of songs that hold strong musical memories for me. There were so many I had to pick some at random, but it’s amazing how once you pick one, a dozen more seem to then follow. Like waiting for buses. Embarrassing, emotional, hypnotic, personal buses.

Majorca 2006 – Shakira ‘Hips don’t lie’

College 2007 – anything Timbaland 

College boyfriend 2008 – Bonobo

First year of uni 2009 – The Smiths 

Bulgaria 2010 – Crystal Castles

Visiting my best friend at uni 2011 – Lil’ Wayne (why though?!)

Drunken taxi ride into Leeds 2012 – Eminem ‘Lose yourself’ Punjabi remix (you had to be there kinda moment)

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