Have you ever been taken back in time by a certain story you read or a fragrance you smelt? There is no denying the fact that our brain functions in mysterious ways, reminding us of things we had long forgotten. It only takes the scent of a perfume, the taste of a favorite cuisine, the tune of an old song or the sight of a familiar place to trigger a myriad of memories and hit us with nostalgia. Many a time we unconsciously suppress old memories to make room for the new ones, but these memories never really fade away. They just exist elsewhere, perhaps in our subconscious minds waiting to be recalled by certain stimulus.
Memories can be of different kinds and may elicit various responses from different people. Some recollections may instill a sense of fear and foreboding, whereas others may wash over us a desire or yearning for the good old days.
I can assert that some of the best memories of my childhood are triggered by music. Some of these were oldies songs that you haven’t heard in years. Songs like ‘reeling and rocking’ by Chuck Berry, ‘The happiest days of our lives’ by Pink Floyd or ‘beautiful noise’ by Neil diamond can’t fail to invoke a feeling of joy, taking me years back in time. Moreover, the famous classical melodies by world’s renowned musicians like Mozart’s numerous piano sonatas and Beethoven’s touching symphonies are reminders of the beautiful bygone era.
While some songs remind me of good old summer days, other tunes are glimpses into various moments of childhood like playing video games with siblings, riding on the carousel, taking long road trips during holidays or participating in school functions dressed up in costumes.
The question why we associate a soundtrack with a particular memory is not easy to fathom. I believe the reason we feel happy at hearing a specific tune is that we have attached our feelings for the place or the moment with the songs we heard during those times. Therefore, when you listen to an old song, all the memories associated with the time when you first heard it come flooding back and create a longing to go back and relive those memories again.
The mind is a funny thing and while science has explored in-depth knowledge about its working there are numerable things we would never understand about it. There may be other reasons for the way we perceive a sound as a trigger for a memory, but I like to take comfort in the thought that the best memories I experienced as a child still dwell within me and at times also emerge at the surface when I hear a pleasant sound.