Making Memories Through Music



Do you attach any significance to songs that start playing in your mind? I do. Maybe that’s because they often get stuck, becoming earworms that loop around for what seem like hours. Sometimes they even wake me in the middle of the night.

I can’t help but wonder why the underpinning of my consciousness loads a particular piece of music. Sometimes it’s easy to figure out because my husband was whistling it or it was playing at a restaurant or I heard a slice of it when a car stopped next to me at a traffic light. Most of the time it seems too random to be chance. So I try to figure out what the song tells me in lyric or mood or memory.

Today, simply walking into a room, my mind’s playlist came up with a tender song I haven’t heard in decades, “Never My Love.”

It took me right back to my childhood home. Most evenings my schoolteacher father sat in an armchair grading papers. I liked to sit on the floor with my back against his chair reading a library book in the same warm circle of lamplight. On those nights he played music like  “Only You” by The Platters, “Cherish” by The Association, “Both Sides Now” by Judy Collins, “So Far Away” by Carole King, “Close to You” by the Carpenters, and just about anything by Burt Bacharach.

My father loved all kinds of music. In college he was nicknamed “Pitch Pipe” – a play on his surname Piper and an homage to his perfect pitch. When my siblings and I were tiny he’d turn the stereo up so we could dance to big band music, the score from a musical, or a classical standard. He’d sing along, harmonizing against the melody. Without a shred of self-consciousness he’d lift up his arms to conduct a particularly tantalizing portion of Bach or Mozart. And sometimes after dinner a song would come on the radio and he’d dance with my mother, both of them smiling as they swooped around the kitchen linoleum.

My father’s father died when my dad was only five years old. The only thing my dad owned of his father’s was a guitar, which he taught himself to play. Supervising little kids’ baths was one of his chores in the parental division of duties, so he’d sit on the toilet lid singing and strumming that guitar while we played in the tub. My splashy siblings and I sang right along with him to tunes like “You Are My Sunshine” and “Let Me Call You Sweetheart.” We also sang songs he remembered from his college days, lyrics edited for little ears.

I don’t know what it means that I’m hearing “Never My Love.” Most likely something below the surface of my awareness triggered a childhood memory. But I prefer to think it’s a form of connection that lasts even when death separates us.

I’m singing it aloud Dad. I’m singing it for you.

10 thoughts on “Making Memories Through Music

  1. Laura Evoked tears

    On 3/25/15 6:28 PM, “Laura Grace Weldon” wrote:

    > Laura Grace Weldon posted: ” Do you attach any significance to songs that > start playing in your head? I do. Maybe that’s because they get stuck in my > mind, becoming earworms that loop around for what seem like hours. Sometimes > they even wake me in the middle of the night. I ca” >

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mortality is one of this planet’s harshest rules, one we’d all like to bend on behalf of those closest to us.

      My wise husband counsels me that we’ll always miss our loved ones but we have a choice. We can do our best to avoid reminders of them, thinking that’s the way to steer around sadness. Or we can embrace memories as they arise by choosing to see them as welcome reminders of time we had with loved ones and letting ourselves re-experience the (positive and/or negative) emotion of that time. I’m learning!


    • Thanks Cait. I think it’s interesting how powerfully music can influence our memories. I’m sure I wouldn’t have remembered playing in the tub as a little girl (who does?) but having my dad there playing his guitar and singing with us somehow gave my brain more ways to connect that memory with sound, sensation, and affection. I hope my kids remember me singing to them every night when they were small.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is truly lovely, so eloquently sharing your memories and insight. The minute you mentioned that song it transported me also, though a feeling only not associated with a movie reel of memories. So great you have such a wealth of remembrances and the skill to weave the past with such clarity Went to read the comments, and got a “page not found” notice. Talk to you soon… > Love, c. > ,

    Liked by 1 person

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