Ever wondered how music manages to conjur such vivid memories? It's actually pretty amazing.
Firstly, music triggers the part of your brain that evokes emotion. If you have music connected to a memory, it's more likely you'll remember how that moment made you feel.
Secondly, our brain finds it easier to remember things with a beat behind it. That's why some people can remember an unending number of song lyrics, and why we use songs to help kids remember things like their ABCs. A consistent beat provides a framework for us to remember things - and it's why a lot of people will vividly remember times they were singing or learning a new song.
Growing up, I was always surrounded by music.
Not just the '90s children's staples like Don Spencer and The Wiggles - pre their colour-coordinated skivvy days - but everything from Led Zeppelin to the Beach Boys, ABBA to Ella Fitzgerald, Cat Stevens to Boney M.
Long car trips were always spent trying to give my younger sister and myself a 'musical education'.
We'd listen to full anthologies of The Beatles, while my dad monologued from the driver's seat about how revolutionary they were for the development of pop music. He'd reminisce about the first time he heard each song. How old he was when he got his first record (Dizzy by Tommy Roe). He and mum would argue over who were "the" Fab Four - ABBA or The Beatles. Dad would tell us about where and how he used to listen to his records. How enamored he was with their sound. How shocked he felt when he first heard of John Lennon's death on 8 December, 1980 ...
There was so much to glean from each song if I just listened.
Capturing things, through sound
The older I get, the more I want to hold onto these memories. I want to capture the stories told by my father, the dance moves of my mother, my own musical development ... no matter how cringe-worthy.
I want to recall them when my parents are no longer with me, and share them with my children when they're old enough to understand. That's why I've started keeping a list of these 'memory songs' in a Spotify playlist.
Every time one springs to mind, I add it to the playlist. It's not long yet, but over the years it'll grow. And one day I'll listen back, hopefully recalling every story connected to each song.
I'll remember sitting on the lounge room as a family, singing along to Dad playing guitar. I'll remember mum's favourite Women of Jazz album, and the way she'd sing every word to every song while watching Doris Day in Calamity Jane. I'll remember saving up for my first single (Candy by Mandy Moore), and the day my parents brought me home the Baby One More Time single to help break the news that they were having another baby.
PS. Don't judge my pre-teen pop addiction.
Why not do the same?
There's no 'one list fits all' approach for something like this. Everyone will have different songs to add, and different significant memories to recall. But I strongly recommend starting your own playlist like this ASAP.
Future you, and your kids, will thank you.
Feel like listening to some nostalgic classics? Check out our Retro Rewind mixtapes!
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