Isn’t it strange how nostalgic music can make you? How just the opening few seconds of a track can take you back to that breakup where you listened to it on repeat, or make your heart full of happiness and unbearable sadness simultaneously remembering a loved one or make you smile thinking about that time you laughed until you couldn’t breath?
James Blunt always reminds me of my much loved and very missed Mum. My best friend and trusted advisor. The woman I can only hope to be as wonderful as. Without an ounce of exaggeration, my hero. We saw the ex-military Brit with tears at points in Sheffield, not long after I’d gone off to university. I wish we could have done that more. We spoke every single day and I came home to see her as much as I could. I could only hope that when I have children I’m as perfect a mum as she was. Those songs, along with others, remind me of her and make me smile. I can remember holding her hand and spending hours chatting away and it’s the only real time that I understand what bittersweet means, when I’m so happy that I have those memories and so angry and heartbroken that I can’t make any more with her in them.
As a naive sixteen year old, freshly dumped and exhausted from days of crying and sleeping in Mum’s bed while she stroked my head and told me I could do miles better anyway, I listened to a particular lemar track. Over and over again. Up loud so that my pathetic wailing didn’t annoy anyone (anymore than the Fame Academy Soul-man’s ‘Time to Grow‘ did). Ironic that my first ex, then the subject of my heartbreak, lived right next door and could most likely hear the song on repeat.
Happy times are also breathed in when we hear some melodies. My future wife made me a CD before we started dating, the catchily titled “A musical education for Ghafs” was a compilation of songs that were much too cool for me to know most of them. She hadn’t known me long but she already knew me well enough to know what I’d enjoy. I’d never heard Laura Marling or The Macabees before and the CD (which I thought was extra sweet having been legally downloaded and paid for) was the soundtrack to our first summer together, one of day trips and long weekends and- what felt like- not a care in the world. I thought someone was wolf whistling at us one rainy bank holiday afternoon as “Toothpaste Kisses” played, only to realise it was part of the song.
When I was a baby, and even as a chubby little girl, my Dad sung a song “Duke of Earl” (a Gene Chandler number that I’m not sure is all that popular) until I fell to sleep. Even now, I love having a listen and sometimes feel watery eyed at a song that means nothing to some people but is a special bond between my Dad and I.
Songs remind me of university and those precious years getting to know myself and some of the best friends I’ll ever meet. Nights on the town that even now have thousands of stories just waiting to be told after a glass or two of wine. Bands that remind me of terrible dates or the time we had to carry our friend almost all the way home, her having had too much to drink that the taxi drivers were all too sensible than to allow her in the back of their cabs.
I love the anticipation of that feeling when you hear a song that you know will lift your mood no matter the day that you’ve had, the kind of song that reminds you that if now’s not so great it will be better again or the power of music that brings you crashing back to reality with a bump, acting as a reminder not to take things for granted. A hit that reminds you how strong you were and that- as promised- things got better again. Notes that almost make you smell and taste the things you could the first time you heard it.
Music makes sure that these things don’t fade away and that should never be taken for granted.