I have been thinking about how the human brain attaches states of consciousness to sensations, especially to music. It’s amazing to me how hearing a familiar song can be like revisiting a past station in life. I have hundreds of such memories locked away with musical keys, as I’m sure you do.
Coincidentally, Linton Weeks at NPR’s blog The Protojournalist has published a few, self-reported soundtracks of people’s lives. Submissions came from the blog’s readers, who each listed six musical works that represent their stories thus far. Below is the playlist I sent in.
There were dozens of cartoons to take in during the 1980s, but Super Friends was my go-to series. When I hear this version of the theme song, I remember being 5 years old, sitting on a hard tile floor in a living room, and eating cereal in front of a wood-cabinet TV on a Saturday morning.
My brother, sister, and I received a Sony PlayStation on Christmas Day of 1997. We owned several video game consoles, but the PS1 brought us together in new ways. After presents, we huddled around a TV in a bedroom to marvel at Final Fantasy VII. (“It’s like a VCR with controllers!” I exclaimed.) The three of us share a strong, unique bond, and I consider the opening sequence of the game as a moment where some of that took shape.
In May of 2001, I flew for the first time to Massachusetts and stayed with my friend, Kyle, for a week. He took me to visit Manhattan while I was there, and I bought a copy of Empires, one of VNV’s major LPs, at a Tower Records store. It remains one of my most-played albums. I remember that trip vividly when I hear any song from that album, especially “Rubicon”.
In 2007, I was pulling late shifts at an assembly plant in rural north Alabama and saving for university. After work, I would play Matt Good’s first solo album, Avalanche, in my car, drive home, and ponder the future. “Rabbits” in particular reminds me of the solitude that swallows north Alabama at night. I’ll never forget how comforting those lonely back-roads were with Matt Good on at 2:00 in the morning.
Someone had warned Sara and I that our wedding day would be a blur, and they were right. I remember we arranged for “Stepping Stones” to play us off the altar. I also remember feeling relieved (but not nervous) as we walked away that the ceremony was over. Thanks to Tim and Sam, I can relive much of that event for years to come.
I discovered “There Might Be Coffee” while writing my Master’s thesis. Sara and I were renting our first house at the time, and the coziness there minimized the servitude I was putting myself through. I imagined the instrumentals as my thoughts, and that helped me to make sense of them.