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The Music of Time

It is said that the olfactory system is wonderful at transporting us in time. We catch a whiff of something, and it has the potential to send our brains reeling back to experiences long ago. We may remember our grandmother's kitchen, or a walk along the beach, or the guy in college that we liked who always kind of smelled like laundry (yes, there's a scent for that). Regardless, it's a pretty universal sensation. But I also think that there is something else, something potentially as strong as our sense of smell in vividly activating our memories, and that is music.

I have had several memorable encounters with music. Whenever I listen to the Introspective album by the Pet Shop Boys, I remember how it was the first work I heard by what would become my favorite band, and that my friend Jeff (now deceased) introduced me to it in his apartment. I hear To the Moon and Back by Savage Garden, and think of late night talks with my friend Mike. The score for Poltergeist evokes memories of the film, and of watching it as a child. Nearly most Euro-dance music takes me back to my bar/club days in Champaign, Indianapolis and Chicago during the 1990s, and of the folks I knew who populated that era.

The power of music can, at times, be staggering. It can have the ability to change our mood, remind us of something from our past, make us dream about the future, help us fall in love, to grieve, be our solace in anger, help to make us happy, and nearly everything in between. How many of us hear the songs of our youth and almost immediately feel just a little bit younger? Who among us has listened to something and felt a kinship with the singer/songwriter/composer -- someone whom we've never met? It's wonderful to appreciate such a powerful influence, and to marvel at how humankind has been able to create such a fantastic experience.


  1. Sometimes I choose what music to listen to based on what kind of mood I'm in. At other times, I choose based on what kind of mood I want to be in.

    The music that plays a part in our lives evokes memories in the same way a fleeting glimpse or scent of perfume can.

  2. "Sometimes I choose what music to listen to based on what kind of mood I'm in. At other times, I choose based on what kind of mood I want to be in."

    So true, Dan. I use music in the same way. :-)


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