Echoes of future passed: music and memories

I was driving to our local branch of Staples this evening, with my newly-six-year-old daughter. Not particularly “grabbed” by the news on Radio 4, she asked if I could put some music on the CD player (“anything you like”). I reached for the first disc I could find, which turned out to be a long-standing favourite of mine: Air’s 1998 opus “Moon Safari”. Yes, that’ll do, I thought.

As the drum loops, spacey vintage synths and electric piano of “La Femme D’Argent” unfolded, I felt what I normally feel when I hear much of the album: a transporting-back to the time just after I bought my copy, around the end of 2001. I have the sort of mind which frequently associates pieces of music and/or albums with specific time periods of my life—more often than not, shortly after buying my copy of the recording.

“Moon Safari” is perhaps the perfect example for me, as hearing it always takes me back to January 2002, when I flew to Seoul to get married (civilly) to my wife. I had the album on my MiniDisc player (yes, that dates things neatly), and was listening to it a lot during my stay, so even today, certain tracks (mostly in the second half for some reason—”Remember”, “You Make It Easy”, “Ce Matin-Là”, “New Star In The Sky”) take me back to the cold, crisp winter streets of the South Korean capital, where Joy and I walked to sort out the legal aspects of our impending marriage.

Air’s classic album isn’t the only long-player tied to memories for me personally. The Divine Comedy’s 2001 effort “Regeneration” (especially “Lost Property” and “Perfect Lovesong”) put me in mind of the trip Joy and I took to Gyeongju and Jeju, during which I proposed to her. Yet another Korea-associated album is Röyksopp’s “Melody A.M.”, this time because I bought the CD just before our 2003 visit.

Perhaps this tells me something—that music is important to me, and that I form emotional attachments to certain songs (or collections of songs) when I first hear them around important times in my life. I suppose I’m not unusual in that way, but it’s funny how I return to these “touchstones” every now and then—perhaps, sometimes, when I need reminding of special moments, and how much I have been blessed.

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