Columns / Discourse / February 11, 2009

High fidelity

Let’s talk music. For me, music is the only constant in an ever-changing life. Music is so tightly tied to my life and memories; and if you’ve ever been someplace where a stereo has been playing, music is most likely tied to your life too. These last few weeks, I’ve been randomly finding myself in situations where music comes up, and almost every single time, I realize that people’s favorite songs are all tied to specific memories. They aren’t favorite songs simply because the notes and chords ring beautifully together; they are favorite songs because they bring back emotions of good and bad times, and that’s what makes music so wonderful.

My favorite Beatles song is “Come Together,” and while this song is a brilliant piece of work, it’s not my favorite simply due to the fact that the beat is catchy or the lyrics are thought-provoking. It’s my favorite because it’s the very first Beatles song I ever heard off of the very first record I ever played. I was around nine years old and filled with curiosity for the turntable I had seen my father use many times before to play old, raspy blues singers on many early weekend mornings. I remember spending delicate time flipping through his stacks of albums in search of the perfect one to play first, and finally settling on a haggard, fading copy of Abbey Road. At the time, I had no idea who the people on the front of the cover were, or even what the name of the album was. All I knew was that those four men looked hip, one of them in bare feet smoking a cigarette, one dressed up in an all-black suit and tie, another dressed down in a jean shirt and pants, and the man at the front all in white, leading the group like a king. I wanted to hear what they had to say, so I placed that 33 on the turntable and steadily lifted the toner arm and set the needle down onto the first track of side one.

Nothing will ever compare to the satisfaction of hearing the intro to “Come Together” spilling from the speakers in the empty room. The sound enveloped my body and pulled me in, and right then I fell in love with two things: vinyl and the Beatles. Ever since then, “Come Together” has held a very special memory for me, and ever since then my obsession with music has grown with my desire to find more songs, artists, and bands that do the same thing “Come Together” does every time I hear it.

We all tie memories to music. It’s only natural. Some songs remind us of people back home who make us feel like home. Some songs remind us of those nights where everything went perfectly, those nights that will never be recreated because they were only meant to exist in a short 24-hour time span. Other songs remind us of quiet moments where everything made sense or moments where our world was complete chaos.

Music is not wonderful simply because the notes are pleasing to the ear. Music is wonderful because it has the power to record a person’s memories right along with the steady roll of a timpani or the delicate thrum of an acoustic guitar. In a way it’s like the key to a journal of your memories. Music allows you to become a part of it, and each time you listen to a song, you unlock those memories and remember. Isn’t that what we do? We dwell on the past, the bad days and the better ones. We mull over them in our minds and wish we could fix or re-create them, and music helps us remember and understand, making us set our CD players to repeat to keep reliving the memories.

So, today, in between the studying and the living of life, take a moment to listen to your favorite albums or favorite songs, and think about why you love them.

What memories do the melodies hold for you?

Miya Pleines

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