Tuesday, November 05, 2013

A song that serves as a time machine

I can hear some songs and am immediately transported to a specific time and a specific place.
The nexus of music and memory often ushers us along that path.
When I hear "NEVER STOP" by ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN, I immediately find myself walking the chilly streets of CEDAR RAPIDS, IOWA, during my sophomore year in college.
"Never Stop" was the first track on a 1984 extended play release of the same name I had on cassette -- a cassette I would play on walks away from campus in the years before I had a car.
"Good God, you said, is that the only thing you care about, splitting up the money and share it out."
I just need to hear the song's first line, close my eyes, and I begin to feel a stiff, cold breeze and the variety of smells that characterized Cedar Rapids, an agricultural/industrial center that specialized in the production of cereals made by the grains grown on Iowa farms.
"Measure by measure, drop by drop and pound for pound we're taking stock of all the treasures still unlocked. The love you found must never stop."
I know the words by heart, thanks to countless times singing them to myself as the song played on my Walkman.
I'd rotate tapes in the Walkman, of course. Some days, Joy Division or The Bluebells or The Undertones would be accompanying my travels.
Now, though, it's primarily "Never Stop" that triggers detailed memories of my Cedar Rapids walks, not any songs by those other great bands.
I don't understand the exact way music and memory combine to take us someplace in the past. I don't complain about it, either.
"The king is dead and long live the people who aim above all the simple stuff never understood like right from bad and wrong from good. Deny that you were ever tempted by the lie that there's an answer in the sky."


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