“Music, at its essence, is what gives us memories. And the longer a song has existed in our lives, the more memories we have of it.” – Stevie Wonder
I couldn’t agree more, Stevie. We all have that song that takes us back to a place and time the moment we hear it. Heck, even as I write this the sounds of XM radio’s Sinatra station is playing in the background awaking many memories.
I can’t help but smile from the very first orchestral note as Etta James begins At Last. The song played for our first dance at our wedding, a choice made years before the resurgence of the standard into popular culture. At Last wasn’t just a nice tune to listen to, it was a statement for both Amanda and myself, who were unlucky in love so many times, before that first amazing date. I can’t help but see her smiling in her dress as we glided across the floor of Ceresville Mansion surrounded by our family and friends. I still say that was the happiest day of my life and think about it every time my phone rings; it’s set as Amanda’s personalized ring tone.
A few other songs are connected with strong memories too. Like Sloop John B. by the Beach Boys, the catchy tune played through my head constantly the summer of my 7th grade year as I spent two weeks on a sailboat as part of a summer classroom. The trip was good, but being the first time being away from home, it wasn’t all happiness, but far from the worst trip I’d ever been on.
When I was even younger the song Doe a Deer from Sound Of Music was a standard for family sing-a-longs on long road trips, we even learned to sing it as a round just to change things up.
I can’t hear Your Song by Elton John without a very vivid memory popping up, and it’s not even a mushy, romantic one. Amanda and I were sitting poolside at this little hotel on Ios when the Moulin Rouge version came on and that was fine enough, then the original came on, then a dance mix, then one more version. We heard Your Song for almost 20 minutes straight. I can only guess they were back to back to back on an iPod and they didn’t hit shuffle. We couldn’t stop laughing about it for the rest of the trip.
The last one has no words, just DAH-DUH-DUH-DUNNN… DUH-DA-DUH-DUH-DUH-DA-DUNNN! (also known as the Monday Night Football theme music). It was playing in the background as I proposed on the sidelines of FedEx field just before the players took the field for a Redskins game. It wasn’t good timing, just a coincidence. We didn’t realize the music had been playing until we looked at video a fellow photographer shot of my proposal. I hear those epic notes and if she’s near I ask Amanda to marry me all over again.
The music we hear isn’t always background noise, it can pull memories to the surface as readily as a photograph. So, why not make up your own playlist and travel the road of memories?