Why does hearing a song transport you back to the time of hearing it and remind you of events in your past?
A study of responses from people with Altzheimers (author Petr Janata Associate Professor of Psychology UC Davies’ Centre For Mind And Brain) found;
“What seems to happen is that a piece of familiar music serves as a soundtrack for a mental movie that starts playing in our head. It calls back memories of a particular person or place, and you might all of a sudden see that person’s face in your mind’s eye. Now we can see the association between those two things—the music and the memories.”
Further information can be found in the article in Psychology Today
As for my own music memories, let me take you on a journey.
My first memory of watching Kylie Minogue’s video of Hand on Your Heart was on Top of The Pops. I was sat on the floor next to our fish tank at home while my mum sat behind me drying my long hair with a noisy orange hairdryer that if not careful would suck your hair into the vents causing a burnt hair smell! I remember asking her to stop drying my hair so I could sing and dance to the song but she told me to wait as it was recorded and they would rewind it (recorded on VHS). And so I sat trying to listen to the song as it continued with the hairdryer drying my hair. Once dry my mum re-wound it for me and I sang and danced as though there was no tomorrow!
We always listened to Radio 1 when I was growing up so from a young age I was aware of popular music. I remember walking to school with my mum singing loudly Our House by Madness but I only knew the chorus we were halfway to school and my mum must have got sick of listening to the same bit and asked me to stop singing. I remember feeling disappointed but went ahead of my mum skipping and quietly continued singing! I still don’t know the other words!
As a teenager every lunchtime at school the Head of the School House I was in would let us play a radio which was plugged in right outside his office! It was always tuned into the Long Wave radio Station Atlantic 252! They usually played the same songs most days and so many lunch times I sat with friends eating lunch and everyone would all sing along to the music. The one that sticks in my head most is Crowded House Weather With You. Most recently Boo has demanded music whilst she has a bath and I played this to her (I sang along to it, funny how words to songs come back to you many years later) she really enjoyed it and tried singing along to the chorus so I now have a new fond memory of this song.
I used to go to a pub music quiz with my husband and his friends when we first dated. One day we had to walk from the bus stop to the pub (it was quite a long walk) however it was torrential rain and I got drenched! As my hair was drying into a mass of curls Texas Halo came on and there’s a line that says
She’s so pretty
Her hair is a mess
We all love her
To that we confess
Since that day hearing that song transports me back to being young and not long dating sat in the pub with my messy hair drinking a cider!
Everyone that gets married has a song they danced to as a first dance as a couple. For us it was Semisonic Secret Smile. We didn’t realise at the time that the version we had given the Dj was 7 minutes long!
During each pregnancy I had a song that I would sing for Monkey it was Take That Rule The World and for Boo it was Kylie Minogue 2 Hearts each child reacted differently to hearing the song whilst I was pregnant. Monkey would calm down and stop kicking so much and Boo would be moving all over the place! After I had the children I did try singing/playing the songs to them Monkey disliked me singing it and Boo used to relax to her song although I changed the version I played to one that was on the Abbey Road studio album which Kylie did as it’s much calmer than the original.
There are many more songs that have further meanings to me and transport me back in time but these are the main ones.
Do you have any songs that bring back happy memories?