Musical Memories


Whether it was 7 a.m. and I was on the way to school, angry at the world, listening to “Look At Me” by XXXTENTACION, or in my room at 3 a.m. listening to “Solo” by Frank Ocean, music has always been my way of escaping the world and getting in tune with my own emotions. 

I tie my emotions to the music I hear. Anytime I hear the trumpets in J.Cole’s “Apparently” I am instantly transported to the back of my brother’s car, 12 years old, with the windows down singing my heart out, “I keep my head high, I got my wings to carryyyy me…” No matter where I am or what I am doing, when I hear that song, I feel like a happy little kid, just excited to hang out with his big brother. 

On the flip side, anytime I hear Bruno Mars’ iconic line, “Put your, pinky, rings up, to the skyyy…” I feel like the 11 year old child sitting in the car crying because his dad was scolding him for getting in a fight, even though I laugh about that experience now, I will never forget that feeling.

There is a science behind why some people connect music to memories. Psychologist Shahram Heshmat did a study in 2021 that dove into why music evokes memories. In this study he saw that, “our long-term memory can be divided into two distinct types, namely implicit memory and explicit memory. Explicit memory is a deliberate, conscious remembering of the past.” Heshmat later states music is one of the few ways to penetrate Alzheimer’s Brain, as he mentions music can help people with dementia recall memories of events from their childhood. 

I can remember in 2016 riding in a car with my brother on the way to my grandpa’s funeral. When I think back to that time I can feel the wind blowing throughout the car, and I can hear my grandpa’s favorite song playing on repeat. “Country roads, take me home, to the place, I belong.” I also recall a feeling of peace with the situation at that moment. The memories of my grandpa that were brought up because of that song is the only reason I have positive memories of that time, where once again that song was playing.

Music has gotten me through a lot of things in life, without it I think I would be a lot less connected with my feelings. Next time you need an outlet or just want something to help you escape reality, find your favorite album, press start and escape.