Musical Memories

Listening to music can be a very personal, intimate experience. You have different types of songs customized for different moods and days. You have a playlist for partying and celebrations, a happy one that you listen alone, one that you listen when you want to cry yourself to sleep, one for when you are oozing with feelings of romance. There are of course your go-to songs, which are like a best friend available whenever you need. Then there are specific playlists like metal and its sub-genres, rock n roll, country, folk music and more depending on what you like and how geeky you are. But I wanted to ask one thing, what about the songs which have a particular person (mostly romantic, and these ones are very close to our heart), a place or memory attached to them? Surely, I’m not the only one this happens to.

When I used to live in Bansdroni in Kolkata, I used to go out for long evening walks by myself. These areas like Bandroni, Naktala, Garia had a whole world of little houses, congested markets, and a huge network of thin, little roads and modest establishments. If you venture deep into the little roads, you’ll come across localities which seemingly consist of people belonging to the lower rungs of the economic ladder. And yet in these tightly packed places, some of which has lanes barely wide for a sedan or a Duster, there were cultural centers, stages, playgrounds, and parks. It was like a semi-urban small town, a whole different world altogether inside the metropolitan city. It was incredible when I saw it for the first time. So half of my motivation for going out on the long evening walks was to explore these interiors, something I do in every city I’ve ever lived in. I remember listening to Avicii over my earphones walking through these little roads. And it felt rather grand because these places got quiet very soon in the evening and it gave me this amazing feeling of being alone, walking like the place is mine. There is beauty in music with external silence. So now, whenever I listen to the songs I listened to on my long walks in Kolkata, I’m teleported back to those days and I find myself lost in its streets for a little while before I’m pulled back to reality.

Memories are attached to songs. In another perspective, music is an instrument of attachment. I am certain of that now. But I wonder, can you ever listen to a particular song-with-a-memory in a different way? Or is it etched in your head permanently? And if there are memories attached to music, it means there may be stories attached to songs. Attachment can become very unhealthy for the mind and in order to make new memories and enjoy new places, we need to let the old ones go. I might be overthinking this (which is why I write, otherwise words would start visibly flowing out of my head). Perhaps a little attachment through music does not do us much harm. And it’s especially useful to remember certain people if you think retrospectively (like that classmate you had a crush on when you were in the eighth standard). It would be nice to remember that little world inside Bansdroni while listening to Hey Brother by Avicii when I’m 80 or listening to Channa Mereya and laughing my lungs out about the time I did something stupid to get the attention of a girl in school. There could also be sad counterparts of the aforementioned cute stuff. They will sting, but they’re for keeps too in the long walk of life. But then, memories also come in all flavors: good, bad, happy, sad etc and so does music. Maybe someday, I’ll make a playlist of songs that remind of certain people, places, events or even just a particular day. Maybe I’ll make multiple playlists, category-wise. After all, little things like these are what makes us, us and even though there is effort behind these personal activities, they are an important part of what gives meaning to us and our lives in the end. But most importantly, and besides everything else, what’s important to you, is big enough for you.

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