This week has been a roller coaster of music-induced emotion. I’ve mentioned music and memory before (I know, broken record, how topical) but this time, let me take you on a ride…
I don’t know what music you play in the office (or if you even work in an office) but in our second floor cubby hole, there’s all kinds of gems. Classical music is a big front runner. As are old, calm musical numbers from the likes of Doris Day. A bit of Neil Diamond always hits the sweet (Caroline) spot. I know, I’m not paid enough.
It’s amazing how music can master a mood. A selection of Kooks, Jason Mraz and Bruno Mars had me suppressing the urge to dance around the office. It had me cracking inappropriate jokes I should probably have kept quiet until after my probationary period. My work suddenly seemed easy, writing was effortless.
And then came Neil Diamond. Every word was dragged from my finger tips as if each was a nail ripped from the skin. Every sentence out of my mouth was a complaint, irritating even to myself. Who is Caroline anyway? And why is she so fucking sweet all the time? I’m exaggerating a little here, I’ll admit. But I’m not making it up. Music matters. The right chord puts me on top of the world. Have you heard Sean Paul and Sia? They get me. I’m honestly thrilled (and it really was cheap). Let me at ya, let me at anything, give me a blank page, a bottle of vodka, a man. In fact don’t give me anything, I’m already there.
Then we switch, quite suddenly, to an eighties breakdown. We’re swimming in the mellow eerie chimes of Talking Heads. I’m in my dad’s Saab, imagining long blades protruding outwards from water stains on the window, chopping down the trees that line the motorway. (I was a strange child, okay…) Some Lou Reed and I’m sitting on my dad’s lap in the living room, falling asleep. He tells me nothing feels the same as your child nodding off on your chest. Some Pink Floyd and I’m torn between the stark still of my dad, a bouncy castle, attempting to nap on a Saturday afternoon while me and my sister jump on his prone form. Torn between that, and the stark still of a church full of sober figures, of people crying, of my dad spoken of in past tense by 7 different people over a podium.
It’s nice, lovely, I tell myself, to have these memories. It’s a miracle that a simple song can take me back so far, can give me this crystal clear memory.
I used to run away when ‘Wish You Were Here’ played on the radio, appeared on shuffle or vibrated through the office speakers, blasting out from a communal Spotify playlist. But now, I’ll enter a room just to hear it. Because suddenly, I remember what it was like to have my dad in a room with me, living, breathing and physical and nothing else in the field of science, technology or psychology has ever mastered the effect quite so completely.