We all know that music has an incredible way of taking us back. Something that always surprises me, though, is the very specific nature of memories dredged up by particular songs. I heard “Round Here” on the radio today, and I was instantly (though not literally) back on the sidewalk between Myers Hall and Snelling Dining Hall – the sidewalk in between the basketball court and the parking lot – walking to lunch on a sunny day. There are a handful of songs that do this to me whenever I hear them.
Thinking about this, I realized that all of these memory songs take me back to the most mundane places. I think that’s also very interesting. You'd think that the exciting memories would be the ones that come back so strongly, but with me, it’s most often something so simple. I’m usually walking down the sidewalk in Athens; riding to a soccer game on the school bus; riding in the station wagon with my dad on a dark, winter night; or pulling into the gas station to get a nutty bar with my mom, on the way to gymnastics.
Why is it that memories of the mundane capture the feeling of the extraordinary events of the same time, rather than the other way around?