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Scientists tell us that the sense of smell is the most closely tied to memory.  And, indeed, I have on many occasions had memories come flooding back into my mind with just a wisp of a smell on the air.  It is an intriguing thing to experience.  But, I think that hearing can be just as closely tied, especially when music is involved.  Music is a shared experience that we unknowingly tie to certain events or people in ways that even smell doesn’t quite match.

I know that every time I hear James Taylor sing “Copperline” or Neil Diamond sing “Forever in Blue Jeans” or “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show” I see my mom standing in our Charlotte home swaying slightly to the music.  I remember every inch of the rooms, the dimness of the light, and the eye rolling my siblings and I did upon hearing the same songs again.  I love those songs now for the memories they bring back.  I rarely can get through them without a few tears, but the memory is a sweet one.

There are hundreds of other songs that have similar meanings to me.  Each and every one of those tracks is like a little time capsule in my mind that lets me go back to a time and place that made an impact on my life.  The phenomenal thing about it is the visceral quality of those memories.  My emotions can quickly shift when a song with these ties plays.

It can be a disturbing thing to experience.

But, the ability to go back and have those memories is something I treasure.  So, I’ll keep going back to my first dance with my wife every time I hear the Eagles sing “Love Will Keep Us Alive” or to the Blockbuster Pavilion with my sister when I hear “Conjunction Junction” (long story) or to a PGA tour event with my dad when I hear Eddie Rabbitt sing “I Love A Rainy Night.”

We all have a personal soundtrack, its track list is our memories.


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