Music- a real life time machine


Emily Book

Music listened to in teenage years sticks with you for life

It’s June of 2013. Stevensville resident Donna Book finds herself at her granddaughter’s wedding. What was a simple wedding turned into an amazing one with the simple change of scenery. The song “Only Fools Rush In” by Elvis Presley starts playing. With no care in the world, my grandma gets up to dance. 

   Music truly has the power to change lives because humans attach music to past experiences. “In junior high in the chorus, we learned the song ‘Only Fools Rush In’ by Elvis Presley. Then at dances in high school, it was our favorite song to dance to. Over the years at weddings, and different big events, we still love to dance to that song as well. It became one of Grandpa and I’s songs.” A simple song learned in junior high chorus turned into a lifelong unforgettable song for my grandma. 

   LSTN Sound Co released an article entitled “The Link Between Music and Memory.” The article states, “Two recent studies—one in the US and the other in Japan—found that music doesn’t just help us retrieve stored memories, it also helps us lay down new ones.” This explains why “Only Fools Rush In” is a song that has helped Donna create new memories throughout the years. Unforgettable songs like that stick for not just my grandma, but for almost all of the members in my family.

How songs change people

   Songs often do more than make a person feel happy or sad; songs make people remember. My mom, Kimberly Book, said, “‘Smooth Criminal by Michael Jackson always makes me laugh because my friends and I made a dance to it at summer camp when I was 15 years old and we kept on trying to do dance moves like Michael Jackson and kept falling down so it makes me laugh every time.”

   The fact that a small experience with friends that happened in the 80’s still sticks with Kimberly to this day speaks volumes on the effect music has on people.

   My dad has a similar experience. Jonathan Book said, “The song ‘Viva La Vida’ by Coldplay makes me happy. It elicits happy feelings in me every single time I hear it, it’s just a feel good song for me. It’s very uplifting and positive.” Although Viva La Vida was not released while Jonathan was in his teenage years, it is still a song that changed him and one that he passed on to his children. 

   I personally have a specific memory of my dad playing “Viva La Vida” in the car for my siblings and me during multiple different car trips. Every time he would play it, he would bop his head back and forth in a funny way which would never fail to make my siblings and me laugh. To this day, every time I hear “Viva La Vida,” I smile.

   Music doesn’t always make people happy, music often makes people sad too. Kimberly said, “‘Good Riddance’ by Green Day always makes me sad because it played in the final episode of one of my favorite TV shows of all time, Seinfeld.” 

   Just like music, TV shows stick with you for the rest of your life. As one can imagine, the final episode of a favorite series plus a very nostalgic song equaled great sadness for Kimberly that sticks with her still.

   Nostalgic components of songs and their effects on music enjoyment now

   Sometimes, what defines song enjoyment isn’t only the lyrics, it’s the other components used in the song. Kimberly said, “In my teenage years, there was always a lot of synthesizer used in songs. There were a lot of high string synthesizers used in love ballads and I have a tendency to be drawn towards that.” 

   In the 80’s, one can hear a synthesizer being used in almost every popular song. Kimberly grew up on synthesizers, it is very understandable why she is drawn to them; synthesizers are in her blood. 

   The love of synthesizers can be compared to Generation Z’s popular love for bass in songs, because it is used in almost every song now. 

   It is no argument that the lyrics of a song are the biggest factor in deciding if it’s good or not. “The music of our era had words that you could understand and they were clean for the most part,” Donna said. It’s very true that music of our generation falls short of being clean and not using swear words. For someone like Donna, music is hard to enjoy when the lyrics are not clean and when they are hard to understand, especially when the songs she grew up on were not like this. 

   “The music we listened to was more like young love, puppy love, first love, etc.,” Donna said. All of the breakup songs of this day aren’t cutting it for Donna, she didn’t grow up with songs like that.

How music genres shape who people are

   It is no secret that music genres reflect people’s personalities. When asked what music Kimberly listened to in her teen years, she said, “Pop, top 40 pop. That’s what my friends listened to. Listening to the weekly top 40 and taping it with my tape recorder off of the radio and making mixtapes were the things to do.” To this day, Kimberly loves to listen to pop. 

   Kimberly is known as someone who is very upbeat and happy all the time, just like many pop songs. While the pop songs she listened to in her teenage years don’t define her entire personality, they definitely shape a good part of it. 

   “When I was growing up I loved heavy metal or a lighter version of the metal bands. Motley Crue was one of my favorites,” Jonathan said. Jonathan is a very tough person. To give an example, he hasn’t “full on” cried since 2006, that’s tough. Obviously not all of his toughness circles back to him once listening to metal music, but some if it does. 

   When anyone thinks of “metal music” they associate it with “intense, tough, loud.” The different metal genres Jonathan listened to in his teenage years undoubtedly helped give him his tough trait. 

   Music is something that sticks with you forever. Your teenage years also will stick with you forever. Combine these two things, and it equals future nostalgia.