{20/01/2012}   A song and its memory magic

I love listening to music.  I expect most people do.  Apart from the escapism element of music, my favourite thing about hearing a particular song is how easily it transports you to another time, how it gives you a little burst of memory magic.

I wanted to write about one song so I was desperately thinking of really cool songs that have meaning to me.  I thought it’d elevate my music credibility.  Sadly, I’ve now got a song in my head that doesn’t give me that cred but that’s the one I’m going to have to write about.

Name that tune:  “Looks like we made it, Look how far we’ve come my baby.  We might have took the long way …”

Shania Twain, You’re Still The One.  It’s not a favourite song, I doubt it’d go on a ‘mix tape’ but whenever I hear it I can’t help but smile.  I’m not a lyrics person, I a more a tune-rememberer.  In fact, I listen to songs, sing the wrong words but generally get the tune about right.  Listening to Shania right now, I realise that the words are also really sweet.  But that’s still not the point.

Even playing this song deliberately to put me in the mood for writing this, I find myself smiling and I am transported to a covered shopping street in Nara, Japan, where I’d just moved.  It’s March 1998.  I am at the beginning of two and a half years of what I will always remember as being a hugely life-changing, character-building time for me.  I am walking down that street and it’s full-on Japan, despite only being a small town.  It’s busy, noisy and smelly.  Shop assistants are shouting welcomes from shop doorways, automatic pachinko parlour doors keep opening to emit the roar of ‘game machines’, I can smell food, unfamiliar Japanese food.  And from the loud speakers situated near the roof of the covered street (as if more noise is needed), Shania Twain is singing about her love.  It’s exciting.  The whole place is alive, buzzing and I am about as close to being in Alice’s Wonderland as I can ever imagine being.  And I’ve been hearing that song all the time since I arrived and it marks the beginning of a whole series of crazy, wonderful adventures.

It is definitely a happy memory but even now, listening to the song on repeat on YouTube, it seems kind of sad.  Actually I feel kind of sad.  Maybe it’s because I’ve rose tinted the life I had then, maybe because amidst the amazing experiences I had there, some life-changingly awful things happened to me, mainly my dad dying while I was there.  But I don’t feel horribly sad, I guess it’s just that hearing that makes me want to really be back there and now the song has ended it’s quiet and I’m not.  But that’s what’s so great about a trigger song like that, it allows you to momentarily peer into another life.  Because that’s kind of how the past feels, it’s kind of another you.  But for me it’s probably enough to appreciate that the past is what made me who I am today and a few minutes of feeling transported to a place that I can rose tint as much as I like so long as it doesn’t consume me is a magic moment indeed.    So thank you Shania Twain for “You’re Still the One”; every time I hear it, I am reminded of some times I don’t ever want to forget.



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