Music and memory

Recently a colleague and I were driving back from a meeting when some very familiar music came from the car radio. The National Programme was playing a piece about Joni Mitchell’s Blue and its importance in popular music.

I was instantly transported back to buying Blue with my first pay from Woolworth’s in New Brighton.  This was in the days when  New Brighton was the only place in New Zealand where general retail shops could  open on Saturdays.

If you lived in the east of Christchurch and you needed a part-time job you went and put your name down at Woolworth’s, McKenzies and any other shop you could think of. Then you waited a few weeks until your name got to the top of the list, they rang you, you went down to the shop and did an addition test (how did I pass that, I wonder) and you started the next Saturday. It was a whole other world.

Anyway, back to Joni Mitchell. Knowing every word of every song  on Blue set me off on a Joni jag and I found myself telling my colleague  that I planned to have The Last Time I Saw Richard played at my funeral. She plans on having Mendocino, by those other talented Canadians the McGarrigles. Then we fell to discussing how Leonard Cohen‘s (what is it with these Canadians?) Hallelujah is the funeral song of choice for a certain demographic.

Funny how some songs on the radio can take you back to 1970s New Brighton and forward to your own funeral.

What music takes you back to a certain place or time? More morbidly, do you have any special requests lodged for your final send-off?

Photo of Seaview Road New Brighton - Looking West - Saturday Trading by Kevin Hill
Seaview Road, New Brighton from Kete Christchurch (photo by Kevin Hill)

Billiards: 1902

View in our collection

The only Christchurch business name I can think of with an umlaut.


We have digitised a rather splendid 1902 publication Tourists’ guide to Canterbury.