Who else has a song (or several) that just brings you back to a specific moment or memory?
It doesn’t even have to be your favourite song — or your least favourite — but hearing it brings you right back to a specific time or person or place. I’ve definitely got a few of those songs; some good, some cringe-worthy.
The song ‘Let Her Go’ by the band Passenger, for example, brings me back to my first slow dance in high school, which was unfortunately more cringe-worthy than nice, but thankfully not enough to ruin the song for me for good.
‘Pink Moon’ by Nick Drake reminds me of sitting out in the backyard on a hot summer day, chatting with my dad about music and life and how that song used in a Volkswagen Cabrio 1999 TV ad is, according to my dad, the best commercial ever made.
‘You Oughta Know’ by Alanis Morissette brings me back to playing Rock Band on the Wii gaming console with my roommates in university and laughing hysterically at our terrible singing and the fact that we’re playing Rock Band at our house on a Saturday night instead of going out to a party like ‘normal’ university students.
I wouldn’t considered myself to be incredibly musically-inclined or knowledgeable. I enjoy music, like most people, and I enjoy a variety of songs in a variety of genres, but I’m no music aficionado by any means.
However, it’s still incredible to me how much music can have an impact on our lives. Maybe someone you love told you they really enjoy a specific song and now it’s one you really enjoy too because you think of them every time you listen to it.
Maybe someone you weren’t a huge fan of used to listen to a specific song all the time and now you can’t listen to that song without getting annoying and thinking about that person.
Whatever the case may be, music has the ability to impact your mood and memories, sometimes consciously and sometimes not. And I think it’s an absolutely beautiful and incredible thing that our minds can take a specific melody or lyrics or flow of a song and recreate those memories or emotions you associate it with even years later.
And songs impact people in different ways, too. I recently played a friend one of my ‘sad, slow’ songs, something I listen to when I’m having a bad day. But for her, she felt the song was more of a ‘long road trip’ kind of song, that’s got a nice beat and you can drive well to.
Another song I thought was a happy, dancing kind of song ended up being a song my other friend listens to when she’s angry and just wants to yell. But that’s how music works. The artist has a specific feeling they’re going for when they write and perform it, but the song can be adapted to a different beat or slower lyrics or whatever each individual person feels when they listen to it.
I guess that’s why mix-tapes (and nowadays playlists) were such popular gifts, or things to make for yourself, even. Each song placed into that grouping has a specific mood and memory associated with it, so it can be tailored to an individual person, couple, or group to elicit a certain reaction based on individual or group memories.
Personally, my favourite songs are ones that have memories behind them. In particular, one called ‘That Sweater’ by an artist named Scott Helman. It’s a fun song for sure, but the first time I heard it was shortly after I got my driver’s licence and it was my first time driving into Toronto with my mom.
Finally getting the hang of driving and knowing my mom was confident enough in my skills to let me drive into the big city just made the drive so special, and jamming out to this song while doing so gave it a fantastic memory that I relive every time I hear it.
Even halfway across the country, I still feel connected to people at home hearing certain songs. It makes the distance feel a lot shorter and those people, a lot closer, and that’s really what music is all about.
— Clare Rayment, Kitimat Northern Sentinel editor