I once heard music described as the international language — something that transcends life, love, even war (see: West-Eastern Divan). Generally speaking, most of us associate music with things we have done or particular memories we have. And every so often we randomly attribute, or assign, music to places, people, or events that make us think of those things.
For instance, I have a small list of items that get recalled when a particular song (or artist) comes on. “Country Grammar” invariably reminds me of pre-season soccer, 2000 (we sang it en route to many practices). “Living on a Prayer” usually brings me back to senior spring, when Annie would dedicate it to the graduates many a night at Monaco Bay. Anything by Tom Petty reminds me of a great guy who took me to the concert in Grand Rapids last summer. “Two Tickets to Paradise” was playing last time I saw a lost friend (in Dallas at a Ferrari event). “Bailamos” was clearing a dance floor in the Bahamas (at Gusty’s!) with Pierre in the spring of 2000. Recollected songs.
Some songs, however, have no direct relation to a memory. Rather, they have been assigned because they have some bearing on the memory, independent of actually being played during the event giving rise to the memory. Jimmy Buffett’s “One Particular Harbor” will always be Harbour Island to me. “Goodbye My Lover” applies to Residual. And Uncle Kracker’s “Follow Me” reminds me of the college bf. Assigned songs.
But what makes us do it? Why certain songs to certain people or places? Are we trying to preserve select memories in time immemorial tunes? I mean, sometimes we hear a song and think “How does this band know me so well!? It’s like, they know my life!” Maybe music is the international language. Or maybe we all have identical lives. Either way, certain songs take us back. Not unlike certain scents. So … from what songs do your memories play?