Thanks for all the lovely tales of songs that have memories woven between their melodies! It was fascinating to think about which few notes bring up a rush of images for different people.
Before I get into the musical peephole to my brain, though, I have a few loose ends to tie up for my First Annual Holiday Mix-Tape Contest (which I really could have named something far wittier than that. I'm a little disappointed in my serious lack of puns).
There were 39 comments in total, representing something closer to 36 entries. Using the magic of Randomizer.org, I selected four random numbers, which represented the comment number.
The winners were:
Comment #1- Nutty Cow of Parlez-vous moo?Comment #23- Hope of Hope Dies Last
Comment #28- Daisy of Fresh as a Daisy
Comment #35- K of Off the Record
Nutty Cow and Daisy win Hijinks: A Soundtrack (Vol 1), which has 18 of my possibly less well-known favourites, and Hope and K win Vol. 2, including 20 of your favourites.
(Psst, if you haven't gotten back to me with your address, please do as soon as possible! I'm heading out of town on Wednesday morning and would like to have them sent off before I leave... plus, most of them are flying across the ocean, and I would love for them to make it your way by Christmas!)
Smell is routed differently than the other four senses. The dorkish explanation has to do with the fact that the sensory nerves in the nose go to a different part of the brain than the other senses, and are thus closer to the area responsible for memory. Anyone who feels the rush of memories fly in when they catch a breath of pine or the scent of perfume can attest to this. Although, ostensibly, sound is not processed in this way, I wonder if music may have a trap door somewhere by the nose, because, for me, the first few notes of a song can take me back in time in an instant.
Here are a few of those songs with more direct routes to the past...
I Think We're Alone Now- Tiffany
Picture two girls, aged 8 and 5, their oversized shirts tied in knots, dancing in a semi-coordinated fashion in a hallway in front of their parents sitting in kitchen chairs. Don't forget the two feet tall teddy bears their uncle won for them at a carnival serving as the "boyfriends" in this little dance number, thus having the lyrics directed at them.
Yep, that's me and my little sister. I was ever the performer, hitting play on my Fisher Price tape deck, and telling my sister what her new back-up dancer moves were. After our Cyndi Lauper number on the bed, my mom officially relegated all future performances to the hallway.
Our performance of "I Think We're Alone Now" was probably us at the top of our game, complete with hand acting out exaggerated heartbeats to "The beating of our heart is the only sound". In fact, even now, nearly twenty years later, we still remember the moves. And are more than happy to demonstrate them for anyone who is lucky enough to be around during the combination of us two, alcohol and Tiffany.
You Oughta Know- Alanis Morrisette
I am fourteen, with bloodshot eyes, my blackest shirt, my back hard up against the lockers. As of yesterday's lunch hour, I have been dumped. I am surrounded by friends, chattering away, trying to distract me. Still, as I see him coming down the hall towards me, my fingers press down hard on the play button, so that angry lyrics fill me ears and don't allow me to hear the sound of his sneakers on the linoleum floor.
(The funny thing is that I hadn't the slightest clue what she was referring to when she said "Would she go down on you in a theatre?")
Smoke on the Water- Deep Purple
My mom does not sing in regular fashion. She makes up words and lyrics, she hums, she do-dos. Because of this, I do not know Smoke on the Water due to the lyrics, but rather the baselines as sung by my mother as she made tea in the morning.
Another Lonely Day- Ben Harper
I sometimes make stupid decisions. An hour after I spoke the words I never imagined would roll off my tongue, ending more than six years with one man, I made one of them. Our tiny apartment seemed so empty that it echoed, so I, in a deceptively nonchalant move, decided to listen to Ben Harper and finish putting together some neglected photo albums.
And promptly squeezed every last tear I knew existed into pools onto the glossy images below, as Ben read my mind, singing "It wouldn't have worked out anyway, now it's just another lonely day."
A Man of Constant Sorrow- The Soggy Bottom Boys
As I was packing my last box to move to the proverbial big city, my father was discovering bluegrass music. This was one of the first songs he asked me to print out for him.
These days, it seems hard to imagine him without a guitar in his hand.
Nothing ever quite captures how carefree summer is in high school.
Barefeet, wind through your hair as you sing at the top of your lungs, camp fires, night swimming, popsicles, sweaty kisses, and working just enough to buy a new swimsuit or to pitch in for gas in your friend's 1986 Hyundai Pony.