SongPop & Memories

Posted: September 20, 2012 in Music & Related


My newest game obsession is a Facebook app called SongPop.  The way it works is this: you (or your opponent, depending on whose turn it is) choose a category; a snippet of a song plays, and you choose the correct song or artist from the four choices provided (a total of five times per game).  Simple, but sometimes challenging.

This game is interesting to me on a number of levels.  It’s fun seeing what songs and artists and genres my Facebook friends are most familiar with.  It’s fun seeing how quickly I can recognize the songs I know.  It’s cool to be able to recognize a song I don’t know based on the singer’s voice…or the particular sound of the lead guitar.  And it’s interesting to reconnect with songs I’ve forgotten or find new ones that catch my interest.

There’s one more thing that I enjoy about SongPop – something that I also enjoy about listening to music in general: having a song spark a memory.

Many songs spark memories for me because music is such a huge part of my life.  Some remind me of concerts I’ve been to.  Others remind me of parties or nights out a club.  Some bring back memories of my teenage years – or earlier.

“Santeria” by Sublime, for example, reminds me of countless nights at Jellyrolls in Orlando.  ”Rock You Like a Hurricane” and “Once Bitten, Twice Shy” remind me of shooting pool with my best friend back in high school.  And I have the vaguest memory of shaking my booty to “Shake Your Booty” by KC and the Sunshine Band when I was just a toddler.

While these memories are sometimes vague, like the ones I just mentioned, they tend to be perfect snapshots or short mental films of a particular moment.

For instance, when I hear “Your Body is a Wonderland” by John Mayer, I can see the horizon rising and falling through the window of the Rhapsody of the Seas.  I can’t hear “Five O’Clock Somewhere” by Alan Jackson (with a little help from Jimmy Buffett) without thinking of Ray McGee singing a slightly altered version of it to a roomful of drunk tourists at Jellyrolls – and seeing Jason Pawlak’s face as he said, “You can’t do that!”  And I will never, ever be able to hear Alanis Morissette’s “You Oughta Know” OR Elvis Presley’s “Suspicious Minds” without thinking of Matthew Nelson, without seeing him flip his hair and wink and do the Elvis point or seeing him tapping his Chuck Taylor’s in time while belting out an amazing rendition of Alanis’s song.

It’s amazing to me how music holds these sorts of memories safe in it’s embrace, just waiting for us to take them out and experience them again and again.  I have no idea why it works the way it does, and even if science can explain it, I don’t think I want to know.  I like to think it’s just another part of the magic that is music.


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