Sunday, November 09, 2008

Music Brings Back Memories

It's funny how music can jog your memory. I was just talking with a friend of mine whom I haven't seen in a while. She told me she was on a bus Saturday night, and her iPod played a song I had recommended her, after which she couldn't stop thinking of me. It was very flattering, but it got me thinking about how certain songs bring me back to specific periods of my life, especially if a certain girl figured prominently into what was going on with me at that time.

I first noticed it in sixth grade, when I had a big crush on a girl, and Magnificent Bastards' "Mockingbird Girl" made me think of her every time it came on the radio (I was listening to WAAF a lot at the time). I've since gone back and listened to that song, and it kind of sucks. In college, when I started to get involved in my first serious relationship, which coincided with my introduction to My Bloody Valentine, I listened to Isn't Anything and Loveless as much as possible so I would have a frame of reference for the memories.

This is just my interpretation, but it seems to me that Chassidus explains why music is so universally moving. Chassidus teaches that when one reads a book, for example, a bond develops between the reader and the author, perhaps as small as a favorable opinion. A favorable opinion may progress to curiosity, mild interest, fanship, and so on. Regarding music, however, the Alter Rebbe famously said, "If words are the pen of the heart, then song is the pen of the soul." While words may be understood according to one's own ability, music connects on a level higher than understanding, cutting through directly to the soul. Perhaps this is why my Grandma always calls nigunim Jewish Soul Music.

1 comment:

Elisheva said...

Well said.

I used to have a tendency to go through musical phases. Usually listening to a certain record brings back memories of whatever book I was reading at the time.

I can't listen to Gil Bateman's "My Daddy Walked in Darkness" or the Electric Prune's "I had too much to dream" without remembering plot snippets from Isaac Asimov's "Foundation."