A Sarine Thought… or Two

photo by Matt Cornelius
photo by Matt Cornelius

How Music Shapes a Memoir

Have you ever noticed when a certain song comes on the radio or streams through your Spotify it can transport you back to a moment in time you would never otherwise recall?

Maybe a past team won a big game and a particular song was playing at the restaurant where you went to celebrate? Or maybe there was a song playing in the background the moment you laid eyes on your future spouse, and something just clicked! We all have songs that hold special places in our hearts because music is a powerful thing. Wherever music is applied, and it “strikes a chord” with us personally, you can bet that a memory is about to be born. Those memories become the brain children you can always recall, and they are worth their weight in gold!

Maybe the memory isn’t super significant. Maybe it is just a moment in an otherwise normal day, but because it is accompanied by that certain song, it is marked for posterity. Or maybe it’s just the lyric to the song itself. I know I can remember every line to “Shameless” by Garth Brooks, “Hold On” by Wilson Phillips, the theme songs to “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and “Friends” and my middle and high school fight songs. It doesn’t matter where I am. If those tunes are playing, I’m singing along! I also feel the need to jump on a log and link arms with those around me like I did with my friends in the fifth grade as we would let the chorus rip every time we heard Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA.” Every. Single. Time.

Maybe there is a certain feeling that is evoked from hearing a song or a tune. For instance, anytime I hear the song “Amazed” by Lonestar, I feel all weak-kneed and starry-eyed about my boo-kittee, Ross. That song was popular when we were dating, and we loved it. He even typed out the entire song’s lyrics and emailed them to me one day out of the blue while we were dating long distance. SOOOO ROMANTIC! I died! Or when I hear the song, “Come On Get Higher,” by Matt Nathanson, I feel nine-months pregnant. That song was always on the radio when I was driving in the car to my OB appointments at the end of my pregnancy. Anytime I hear that song, my back aches, my stomach tightens and I get a craving for saltine crackers and yellow mustard.

Music has also been a major help to me in learning new concepts. I mean, hello?! The Alphabet Song! Whenever I have to put something in alphabetical order, I always sing the ABCs in my head to make sure I’m getting the right file in the right spot. You know you do it too. My son is learning Spanish at school, and we’ve been going through the Spanish alphabet together. I still sing the song I learned from my eighth-grade Spanish teacher, Senora Caldwell, to make sure he is reciting all the letters in the correct order. I offered to teach him the song, but he took a hard pass on that one... RUDE! (Side note: He has since admitted that his class is learning the EXACT same song currently. I have been vindicated!)

A musical tune helps you learn more than just the basics. As a Christian, music has brought Scripture to life for me so many times. I’m in the choir at First Baptist Church Texarkana, and a couple of years ago we sang a song called “Psalm 23.” That’s the title because it is literally that chapter of the Bible set to music. I now know an entire chapter of Scripture word for word because it was set to music. That is invaluable to me. Especially when I forget just how blessed I am and how much God loves me. I can just start humming that tune, and the truth attached to the notes speaks right to my heart at just the right moment.

Music also has the ability to unite people who otherwise would have nothing in common. School songs are great examples of this. I am a Fightin’ Texas Aggie, Class of 2003, and no matter where I am, if I hear the War Hymn start, I’m bent over with my hands on my knees belting it out as if to call the Ags to the gridiron battle ground. And this isn’t just true of me, it’s true of almost all Aggies. I’m sure it’s true for other schools too, but, obviously, Texas A&M’s song is superior.

So, if music can make us feel, remember, learn and be unified, shouldn’t we be using this tool on the regular? I say most definitely! If you’re down, throw on Katrina and the Waves song, “Walking on the Sunshine.” You can’t help but feel better when you hear that tune. Or when you and your spouse have got a strong case of the “Meh’s” about each other, play that song that meant so much to you when you were first together, or that you danced to at your wedding. It will remind you that you picked this partner for a really good reason. Or maybe you’re trying to figure out how to help your kiddo learn all the planets in the solar system or the formula for a specific problem. Put a tune to the terms involved and watch their recall increase dramatically (bonus points if the tune actually sounds decent). Music is such a blessing, so turn it up, sing it out, let the memories wash over you!


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