By Mike Sokol
What were you listening to the year you graduated from high school? This is more important than you realize…
A number of years ago I remember hearing an NPR interview about a scientist who was studying how memory works. And one of the areas of this discussion that interested me most was how many songs we know, and why we seem to remember “the good old days” with songs from our teenage years (whatever that was for each of you) being the songs that we remembered the best as well as having the most emotional impact.
His theory was that songs that we heard during our musical formative years have the deepest connection to our emotional memories. Turns out these formative years cluster right around high school and college. Yup, what you listen to when you’re, say, 14 to 24 years old, sticks with you for the rest of your life.
So I thought about this a bit and tried it out on friends and family. When was the best music for me? Well, I graduated from high school in 1972, so that suggests late ’60s thru the mid ’70s are my musical touchstones. And I do admit to loving Jimi Hendrix, the Doors, Santana, Deep Purple, the Zombies, and Led Zeppelin (and I could go on with dozens more from that era). However, my child-bride Linda is 5 years younger than me and didn’t have the same musical experiences in high school that I did. Her dad was a trombone player in the Rohrersville Band, and Linda played flute and piccolo, often in concerts and marches.
So when I hear Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love, I’m in heaven, but Linda just cringes and tells me it sounds like stripper music. (Hey, it’s a love song…) On the other hand, if we go to see an orchestra or marching band play Stars and Stripes, I’m complaining about that shrill little piccolo, while she’s in total rapture reliving her teenage years of playing with her dad in a marching band.
If you want to get a big conversation going just mention anything about music to Gary Bunzer (the RV Doctor) and he’ll wax poetic about his guitars and the songs he loves to play, many of them from his high school years.
Why do I mention this? Well, right now we all need some happy things. And unfortunately many of our happy things have been cut off from us. We can’t go camping, we can’t eat out in a restaurant, we can’t go shopping in a store without dressing up in a hazmat suit.
So what can we do? Well, I would suggest it’s time to queue up the greatest hits of your youth, find a good pair of headphones if you don’t want to make your significant other cringe at your music choices, and lay back for a deep listen. For example, when I first listed to Hendrix I thought he was darn good. But as a teenager I was listening to an LP on a cheap record player with a little 3″x5″ speaker. However, now I have full-tilt studio monitors and know how to tune my room so it sounds like his original recording sessions must have sounded like. And at times I literally have tears streaming down my face from the sheer beauty of the playing and production.
So what’s your favorite musical years and artists? Could be Django Reinhardt, or Blondie, or the Beatles, or Black Sabbath, or Tchaikovsky or Paul Simon, or whatever. Listen on Spotify or YouTube or whatever music streaming service you’ve got. Relive the moment you first heard Pink Floyd’s Meddle (I do, and there were recreational “enhancers” involved) or whatever floated your boat at the time. Then please tell us in the comments below about the music you love, when you learned to love it, and why you love it.
The times they are a-changin’, and we can change with them if we just keep our heads and hearts together. I look forward to reading about your favorite music in the comments below.
Let’s listen safe out there….
Mike Sokol is an electrical and professional sound expert with 50+ years in the industry. His excellent book RV Electrical Safety is available at Amazon.com. For more info on Mike’s qualifications as an electrical expert, click here.
Email me at mike (at) noshockzone.org with your questions.
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