The Soundtrack of our Lives

collection
The songs we heard growing up shape our memories

Sights and smells will trigger memories in an individual but the sense of sound seems to trigger them best and especially when they are in musical form. Often enough, hearing an old song will automatically take us back to a place that no longer exist anywhere but in our memories, whether good or bad.

Dave Munger presents us with some research on why this is the case in Music and Memory: How the Songs We Heard Growing Up Shape the Story of Our Lives. Here’s an excerpt:

Matching our intuitions about music, researchers have found that music is an important influence on our memories. We associate songs with emotions, people, and places we’ve experienced in the past. This isn’t to say that music is the only influence on memory: the photos I took, the sights I saw, and the words I wrote about my hike will also help to preserve it in my mind for many years to come.

But it’s not easy to parse out exactly how music evokes memories. If I listened to “Rock Lobster” on the drive down from Hart’s Pass where we finished our hike, will “Rock Lobster” be associated with that memory, or with my birthday party in college where I danced wildly to the same song? Does music have a more powerful effect on memory than other influences, like images, words, or smells? We don’t know, but a group led by Petr Janata has taken an important first step in understanding how music can affect memory.

On that note, I’d like to present to you the soundtrack of my youth. Feel free to share yours with us.


Elvis Presley – My Way


David Bowie – Modern Love


Joy Division – Transmission/She’s Lost Control


Depeche Mode – Everything Counts


Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five – The Message


Simple Minds – Waterfront


China Crisis – Black Man Ray


Van Halen – Jump


The Smiths – This Charming Man


M.A.R.R.S. – Pump up the Volume


Eric B. and Rakim – I Ain’t No Joke


Happy Mondays – Wrote For Luck


Dead Milkmen – Punk Rock Girl


World Party – Way Down Now


Ned’s Atomic Dustbin – Kill Your Television


Nitzer Ebb – Join in the Chant


The Stone Roses – Waterfall


The Charlatans – The Only One I Know


Public Enemy – Don’t Believe the Hype


EPMD – Sowhatchusayin’


Marley Marl and the Juice Crew – The Symphony


BDP – Criminal Minded


Ministry – N.W.O


Happy Mondays – Step On


Blur – There’s No Other Way


Wu-Tang Clan – Da Mystery of Chessboxin’


Brand Nubian – Slow Down


The Chemical Brothers – Three Little Birdies Down Beats


The GZA – Liquid Swords


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2 Responses to The Soundtrack of our Lives

  1. David says:

    My girlfriend wrote this article that suggests that music is more than a way of expression that it affects us. http://newstrain.com/2008/09/02/what-does-your-ipod-say-to-you/

  2. Bobby R says:

    solid article most of those songs are on my soundtrack. alot of songs trigger old memories for me , mostly summertime songs like the light by common or back in the day by ahmed. Black moon i got u open just reminded me of the times when me and my buddies would run around the city just goofin off and having a good time.

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