The ability of music to connect us to our memories never ceases to amaze me. Whatever it is about those carefully crafted sound waves that causes all of the electricity to fire in our brains, it takes me a bit by surprise when I encounter a song from my distant past and the rush of memories it brings.
This afternoon, while in a waiting room doing, what else, but waiting, the song Sunny Came Home filtered through the compact, white Bose speakers situated in the corners of the room. Immediately I was back in my senior year of college, driving in the car as that particular song came on the radio, thinking about the girl I was dating at the time.
I have an auditory learning style, so perhaps those of us who are auditory instead of visual experience this connection more readily, I don’t know. It lead me to think, though, about those days, driving with the radio on because I didn’t have a CD player in the car at the time. Whatever happened to come onto the radio was what I listened to.
Now, radio as an entertainment medium is dead. While the radio waves still function reliably for communication, the only entertainment radio that ever even crosses my mind is what I can stream on iTunes. I rented a car with XM last summer while on vacation, and I listened to the Starbucks Channel for a few days, and it seemed almost strange to have random songs form amazing associations of memory for me. Now, I customize my listening by forming playlists and frequenting my favorite podcasts, listening to what I choose instead of what the DJ on the other end of the radio chooses. I worked as a DJ for a while, and I remember the thought and planning that went into my set list. While I wouldn’t trade my iPod for old radio for anything, I have to say I’m left a bit nostalgic, because I wonder if, years from now, I’ll realize that I didn’t form any strong associations over this period of time because I was able to plan what I listen to.
Perhaps, with every advancement, we sacrifice something to move forward.