Music and Memory
Music is so amazingly powerful. It can conjure memories and encapsulate a time/person so well- reminding you of it or them so vividly. Cannot hear the pipes without thinking of my cousin Callum, Auntie Debbie and Uncle Mac. Foremost Callum’s great talent for playing them. The nights at Gellions (an old fashioned pub), where he played the pipes for a Scottish folk/ceilidh band: Schiehallion. He also played in a pipe band throughout his childhood and beyond. Most memorably for The Beauly and Glens Pipe Band. Remember going to watch him in Beauly (small town situated in the North of Scotland). There was too, that magical night when he played at Blair Castle. The grounds of which were lit by torches. It is an important family connection and brings one closer to national identity and of course I am so proud to be Scottish. I love my country. So very much, it is a beautiful and wondrous place and the people are good. The pipes are at their most melancholic, when you hear them at the football- especially the lone piper. That is surely the time I am most connected with my Scottish pride, though the team doesn't always give you much to be proud about!
The strongest song, in terms of memory associated from my youth, is “Don’t Look Back in Anger” by Oasis. That was such an outpouring of emotion at the school disco, especially I think for those who had been at the nursery and school from the start. A factor was that some of us did not want to leave Pitlochry High and also that a-few in the number wouldn’t go onto Breadalbane Academy, it really did feel like the end of an era.
I attended a small school which only went up to a 4th year secondary. A move to another school in order to complete the last two years was necessary. Was fortunate to have such a fantastic year group. Did once regret, that I never let my guard down or that I didn’t mix, socialise or get to know people as I could have done. Don’t Look Back in Anger, the lyrics are very emotive. The song played at the last dance and so many of us cried, can’t remember if I cried there or later at home. Some people took their lighters out and waved them, all hugging one another. It is just some song and that moment will stick with me and forever be linked with that song.
Here comes the much hidden but undeniable romantic in me. This is relevant here, with opera music. Particularly the Italian variety. Italian has to be the most gorgeously romantic language in the world. It sure makes me emotional, the voice of Andrea Bocelli, in particular, is just beautiful. Much more moving than modern music- you hear every single note and there is not the listening to nor the interpretation of the lyrics. Classic music has that effect- Mozart’s concerto, Schubert and piano music, in general, there really is so much to love in that genre. Modern violinist, David Garrett is really something too. Though not classic, Sigur Ros’s stuff is ethereal. It is so calming, again here you do not have the distractions of words. Cannot understand Icelandic and there are markedly few words. Instrumental music is great, where it is just the music and nothing else. Memory links here in terms of seeking it in times of sadness, deep thought and when in the need of comfort. It also makes better backing music whilst working on something that needs a little concentration.
Probably my biggest music binge times came when I was in my early twenties and my football enthusiasm hit fever pitch. I listened to so much music from the city of Manchester, none more so than the Stone Roses. I loved Sir Alex Ferguson and the story of Manchester United's history and Ferguson's vision to build teams the way he did.
So much has changed now of course and the club as is, is barely recognisable. Of course, the history, his history and that before will always be there. Not keen to watch them, could be tempted to when Louis Van Gaal leaves. There is also the free spending Ed Woodward, the businessman who has turned United into a buying club more akin to Real Madrid and every bit the modern-day juggernaut. Wish I didn’t think that way or have such a romanticised notion of Ferguson's United- it wasn’t all good but then what in life is.
Back to the music, though, so much freedom and escapism in the music listened to then- especially the Stone Roses. Think their music has an ability to take you completely out of your head. I stopped living during this time and needed every distraction I could get. Certainly sought comfort in music opposed to people during this time.
Remember listening to and loving a lot of Radiohead’s songs during my difficult to navigate teen years. The most avidly listened to band of my teenaged youth. In adulthood, I rediscovered Radiohead in a big way, around the age of 24. ThomYorke is a deep soul. Their music- the instrumentals, Yorke’s haunting voice and even their videos combine to make them highly emotive. Another band whose music is escapism. Travis, a Scottish band of a similar genre and they too provided many a tune in the soundtrack of my teenaged years and beyond.
Family and music are linked so tightly. Dad has generally good taste, apart from the dance stuff. Gillian (my sister) has talked about music with him more than I have. Certainly taken a liking to The Eagles, Dire Straits and Pink Floyd due to him. There was always music on and being discussed where Mum was concerned and she always sang tunelessly- just the odd lines from songs on repeat at the top of her lungs. Predominantly take Simon and Garfunkel and Cat Stevens from her, there is so much more, though. Casting mind back and I am seeing her doing the housework to Queen. The most powerful song I can relate to my family though is Edelweiss. A lover of the film “The Sound of Music” like my Granny, it is so very sad. Had always loved this song. It was played at my Grandparents funeral. Such a very fitting song and will forever be synonymous with them. It speaks of nature and my memory of them both is their love of it- the very best of people. The song evokes connotations of family and loss also when you listen to it and think of the Von Trapp family needing to flee over the mountains. They are much missed, my Grandparents and I regret so much that I did not see them as much as I should or get to know them as well as I could. My Grandmother on my Mum’s side is someone who I am so close to. Love her dearly. She is a real character. She loves her music. Song I strongly associate with her would be “We’ll Meet Again” by Vera Lynn. Think, that is largely due to the fact that she is a hopeless romantic and as a gifted storyteller- a song from the past is so apt.
The most powerful song I can relate to my family though is Edelweiss. A lover of the film “The Sound of Music” like my Granny, it is so very sad. Had always loved this song. It was played at my Grandparents funeral. Such a very fitting song and will continue to be synonymous with them. It speaks of nature and my memory of them both is their love of it- the very best of people. The song evokes connotations of family and loss also when you really listen to it. In terms of the film, there is the memory of the Von Trapp family needing to flee over the mountains. History, particularly military is a strong interest. The world is in disarray at present and that too makes you think of the sheer cruelty of war and the devastating human impact it has.
My Grandmother on my Mum’s side is someone who I am so close to. Love her dearly. She is a real character. She loves her music. Song I strongly associate with her would be “We’ll Meet Again” by Vera Lynn. Think, that is largely due to the fact that she is a hopeless romantic and as a gifted storyteller- a song from the past is so apt.
This is one of the most personal things that I have written before. Borne out of strong feelings of nostalgia and written in less than an hour. My emotions seem to be all over the place at the moment. I really love to listen to a radio show programme, on BBC Radio 4 that has been going for a long time called “Desert Island Discs”. It invites the famous and successful to share the music that has impacted their lives and is certainly worth a listen. I opt to listen to them via a podcast and you can go back in time through their archives The interviewer, Kirsty Young is very good. If you are interested I have added the link to the site under the above image. I cannot imagine that it will mean much to anyone else my musings in this post. I would be interested, however, if you wanted to share any songs/bands that have impacted you and those that have strong memories attached. I would be very interested to hear them.