My best friend and I were driving to the beach this past July, and a mix CD I had made was playing. Most of the songs were from the 90s and the 00s, and most of them were embarrassingly bad garbage that I used to listen to when I was a lot younger. We weren’t talking much, just listening to the music. Each song held a specific memory for me, like they are crystals with tiny portraits painted on the glass facets.
So I started telling my friend about some of these memories, and he told me what some of the songs meant to him. I thought it was interesting how one song could evoke so many emotions, so many times and places and people. One song could bring back a favorite memory, and another song could bring forward a feeling of dread upon recalling a bad moment.
I’ve also found that these song-memories need to be preserved, in a way. My friend can listen to a CD over and over and never get tired of it and never lose the original memory associated with the song. But for me, there are some songs whose associated memories are so strong that I can’t bear to listen to them. I listen to these songs sparingly, and when I happen to hear them on the radio, I might change the channel to keep the song “preserved.”
It’s always been strange to me that a singer’s voice, a well-developed melody, and some not-so-poetic lyrics mixed together in a four-minute song can encapsulate such a strong memory and feeling.