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)

7 thoughts on “Music and memory

  1. Laraine 13 November 2013 / 1:20 pm

    Robyn, for me music (or even just a sound, like a particular bird call) is more evocative than anything else. In my last job I had to endure the agony of having a commercial radio station on all day and this morning in Pak’n’Save they played something I often heard then. (They are always committing this sort of crime; using a public address system as if it’s a stereo system is a crime in my book.) The memory isn’t particularly joyful and it’s bad enough having to listen to someone who sounds like they have an almighty bellyache without being reminded of somewhere I didn’t want to be. Ah, no wonder I come away from a shopping trip with half my shopping forgotten. :-0

  2. Gallivanta 13 November 2013 / 3:52 pm

    Mmmm…haven’t quite got to the forwarding them to the funeral stage…but I love listening and remembering. And Laraine, you have my sympathy 🙂

  3. purplerulzpurplerulz 13 November 2013 / 5:29 pm

    So many songs invoke memories for me. Sad times, happy times, really tough times. My funeral choices change all the time, but my current favourite is “Aint no grave gonna hold my body down”.

  4. linda blackwell 13 November 2013 / 5:55 pm

    my radio station play songs from long ago and some times I find my self in tears,so many memories,some times I have to turn the radio off.Have not thought about what I want for my funeral yet.

  5. Juliet 14 November 2013 / 11:21 am

    It’s not morbid at all to think ahead to one’s funeral. In fact in my book ‘Spirited Ageing’, I encourage readers to think, not just about the music they’d like at their funeral, but more importantly, the music that would comfort them during their last days on earth.
    As you say in this post, music is very evocative. It can take us back to happy memories very quickly. It’s great to hear your thoughts, and about the conversation with friends about funeral requests. Thank you.

  6. Mary 2 April 2014 / 3:43 pm

    Love this photo of Seaview Rd. It was a great place to be in the 60s and 70s when I was growing up. My brother had a white Anglia like the one in the photo.

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