Thursday, December 11, 2008

Ever notice how music reminds you of specific things?

Doing another late-night programming run, I found myself really coming to appreciate a very unique phenomenon. As one album after another comes on my iTunes player, I immediately have vivid memories burnt into my head that associate themselves with the music, simply because the music was what I was listening to at the time. A permanent part of the zeitgeist, if you will.

For instance, The Wallflowers' "Bringing Down the Horse" and No Doubt's "Tragic Kingdom" immediately remind me of the first place I had on my own, nights spent working at ABS Casino in Calgary and days spent playing FF7, Twisted Metal and Doom on the original PlayStation, complete with my gigantic two-joystick flight control.

Next, They Might Be Giants' "John Henry" immediately harkens back to being at the U of C, playing Ancient Anguish on the VT100 terminals in the open undergrad lab area, and spending time with my first semi-serious emotional attachment online. First of several women I've felt an affinity with who lived in Boise, oddly enough.

Melissa Etheridge's "Yes I Am" reminds me of more university nights, late nights coding on the Sun workstations in the Sauna by the Math Sciences Lounge, endless debates about just how much superior vi was to emacs, scrounging newsgroups and discovering the internet five years before the rest of the world had a clue.

Golden Earring's "The Continuing Story of Radar Love" plays, and I'm brought back to my parent's house in Calgary, playing (specifically) Star Control II on my clunky old PC.

Anything by David Bowie, or Simple Minds' "Don't You (Forget About Me)" reminds me of a dearly departed friend, which in turn reminds me of all the times that hearing said music immediately righted my somewhat whiny emotional compass -- stuck 25 max bets at a fantastic blackjack game at Deerfoot Inn, or my first trip to Kennewick, WA and my love affair with gambling in that state, or being short stacked and on the verge of elimination in a good sized poker tournament and mustering the courage to handle defeat with grace.

The Australia Opera production of "Trial By Jury" reminds me of relaxing in a jacuzzi in a nice suite in Alderwood, WA, enjoying a drink and savouring the middle of what would eventually be remembered as the hottest gambling streak I've ever known in my life -- but like all streaks, it too was doomed to end before I could even leave the state!

There's countless other examples.. usually just one song with one ember of a memory. It almost fades too fast to capture. I'd spend some time trying to catch them all, but I'd be lost forever in nostalgia. I'm content to let these least vivid ones blend into a general feeling of peace and beauty when I hear the music.