Do you ever have those moments when a song triggers a memory?
I was having trouble with my iPhone a few weeks ago. When I took it to the Apple Store they said that the only fix would be to restore my phone to factory settings. While I didn’t lose the important stuff like photos, phone numbers, and music, I did lose all of my apps and the phone settings (including, background, ringtones, alarms, etc.). Additionally, through this process, all of the music that was downloaded onto my phone was now in the Cloud. I like listening to music on the go, which means that I’m better off downloading my songs. I could press a button to download all of the songs easily, but because I didn’t want to overload my phone with music I no longer listen to, I opted to download my music one song at a time — this was (and as of this writing, still is) a process.
I have only about half of my music library downloaded at this point, yet I find myself listening to the music more than I did in the past. Today, I shuffled my music and was surprised to hear a German song that I downloaded almost a year ago. While I was listening to the song, it brought me back to a memory I had when I was in Iceland. I wear earbuds whenever I walk and I remember that this German song was playing for part of my wanderings through Reykjavík last winter.
It’s weird how clear this memory was. I was walking down a hill within the city towards the water. I remember having a general idea of where I was going, without a concrete plan. I remember thinking that the water was my endpoint and that I would just take a picture there and wander back in the return direction. I also remember being pretty tired as my flight arrived early that morning. The German song that I was listening to was a part of a rather short playlist. I definitely heard the song play multiple times during this walk, which is probably why the association between the song and the place stuck.
I was listening to a German playlist at the time, because this was around when I first started learning German. I remember that I was really intense about my learning. At the beginning of my language journey, I would opt to either listen to a German audiocourse or German songs whenever I had headphones in. This little moment with the song in Iceland highlights this phase of my life. Even while I was exploring someplace new, I still pushed myself to adhere to my learning regimen.
Music evokes emotions and activates many parts of our brains. I’m sure that we all have songs that unleash particular memories. “Man, I Feel Like a Woman,” by Shania Twain will always remind me of a dance class I took when I was a kid, because it was the song to our final recital. “Eye of the Tiger,” by Survivor will always remind me of middle school, and “Toxic,” by Britney Spears will always remind me of the local roller rink when I was a kid.
Sometimes songs are more than just songs. If we let it, music can be a transcendent experience. What do you like to listen to, Dear Reader, and where does the music take you?
P.S. the name of the German song was an oldie called “Geh nicht vorbei,“ sung by Christian Anders