Music and Association

United States
February 12, 2007 6:36pm CST
We humans are always making associations in our mind. Even if we don't realize it. Certain sounds and sensations become linked with certain people, places and events. And the most common of those is music. There are always certain songs we associate with certain things. For instance: Don't Fear The Reaper by Blue Oyster Cult. It is forever linked to Stephen King in my mind. I'd heard the song long before it was used in the television production of The Stand, but hearing that song while watching the camera pan over all the plague victims linked the author and the song forever in my mind. No matter when I hear that song, no matter what else it's used for, I will always link it back to Stephen King. So share some of your own musical associations. Let's get some more intelligent conversation going, hmm?
12 people like this
27 responses
• United States
13 Feb 07
I was 12, almost 13, it was the summer before I was to start middle school. I excepted a ride home from a pizza place where I had been with some friend from someone I knew but not well, he was older, 16 at least. I remember thinking I should go with him but it didn't stop me from getting into the car. He raped me and while it was happening American Woman by The Guess Who was playing on the radio. Still today if I hear that song I am right back there.
• United States
13 Feb 07
I have similar triggers. I'm so sorry that happened to you.
• United States
13 Feb 07
Oh, lordy. You know how I am about my music. "Paint it Black" by The Rolling Stones is very solidly linked to CBS's "Tour of Duty". Even years later, I could call up the opening scenes from the first season in my memory and pin them to where they showed up with which lyrics for that song. I can't think of "Kryptonite" by Three Doors Down as anything but an Ed-to-Al song, especially not after UO's AVM. I am also really starting to get Stevie Nicks's "Doing the Best That I Can (Escape from Berlin)" tied in with Riza.
@spcbrass (1192)
• United States
13 Feb 07
Well being a musician it is very easy for me to associate songs with a variety of things. Whether it is songs that I have played or songs that I have heard each one of them will trigger a memory. Everytime I hear anything by Rush it makes me think of the summer my friends and I put together a basketball team and played every day around the area literally from sunrise until sunset, often times later. We would always listen to Rush in my friends car on the way to and from the differet courts. There are other songs that I will hear from time to time on the radio that trigger other memories. The songs that I have played will trigger different memories when I hear them again. Those make me think of my performance and where and when it was, ans the feelings that I had at the time. Musical association is very evident and very real in this world. In fact Leanord Berstein wrote a book about it. One of the most interesting things that you will read in his book is that from the time children are very young they start associating things with music. Music is the same accross all cultures and all nationalities and it is a universal language spoken by the entire world. He points out that children all over the world in all cultures use the same six notes when teasing each other but the words or sounds they use come from their language. Here is an example...remember this one "na-nee-na-nee-boo-boo." Or if you put words into it "you-are-in-big-tro-ble." He says that this is universal to all children in the world, with a slight variation in the middle eastern coutries where the notes are slightly different, but the pitches are all relative to ours. With that in mind listen to middle eastern music and you will hear that their music is made up of half tones while most of ours is made up of whole tones. It's still a universal language, but theirs just has more ways to say the same thing. Sorry for ramblong, but I found this to be very interesting, and it shows you the impact that music and musical association has on all of our lives on a much deeper level!
@Aussies2007 (5339)
• Australia
13 Feb 07
Yes... it is actually quite easy to associate music with events. The first time I met my sister future husband... he was playing "Revolution" by the Beatles. I always think of that day when I hear that song. I bought the single "Get Back" by the Beatles a few hours before man landed on the moon. Every time I hear that song... I remember that day. The first time I went to a night club... as I entered the place... they were playing "I am a man" by the Spencer Davis Group. I was in a fun fair when I heard for the first time "Commotion" by the Creedence Clearwater Revival". I think you remember those days because the song has just such a big impact on you... which mean it is a good song. Notice also that on each occasion... I was hearing those songs for the first time. I might have heard "Get Back" on the radio... but it was a recent release. I also bought "Venus" by the Shocking Blues on the same day than I bought "Get Back". But I got tired very quickly of that song... and even so I remember when I bought it... I don't associate it with the first man landing on the moon. Which goes and prove the point that you only associate things with really good songs. And then there are the songs you associate with movies... Like Ghost with Demi Moore and Nine and half Week with Kim Basinger.
@Bbilal (2000)
13 Feb 07
As am I music composer I've many songs associated with me and all the songs mean verry much to me. Some songs are made just for dedicating my ex-girlfriend [which I still love like a mad boy] Some are based on public issues. Apart from this the most associated song of me is IMMORTAL - Evanescene this song ever realize me how much I loved her, I cry everytime when I switch on this song :) This songs mean alot to me and my musical voyage even started from this song cover. This discussion once again made me crying :)
@emeraldisle (13145)
• United States
13 Feb 07
Well at least I'm not the only one to put that song with that movie. I hear it I see the beginning of The Stand. There are actually many songs I do this with and not just songs from musicals although those can be bad enough. I hear Brown Eyed Girl and I picture Julia Roberts dancing with the guy in Sleeping With the Enemy for example. Johnny B Good to Back To The Future (along with a few other songs actually). Let alone Don't You (Forget About Me) by Simple Minds and Changes by David Bowie for The Breakfast Club. Amazing how songs can be linked that way. I'd heard many of those long before the movies but now I hear the song and images flash through my mind and usually I have to come home and watch the silly thing if I have it. It's worse when it's a movie I don't have.
1 person likes this
@manong05 (5029)
• Philippines
13 Feb 07
My best example would be my wife and me's theme song when we were in school together "No other love". That was 35 years ago and never cease to inspire me. I am not sure if you include "subconcious association" in your topic. I remember a book I read years back of a woman passing a store every time she goes for work. The said store plays the same music most of the time and the woman feels an awesome feeling of security every time she hears the song. She found out later on that her mother used to sing that song every time she puts her to bed.
1 person likes this
• United States
13 Feb 07
Oh man, there are so many! I guess the one that comes immediately to mind is By the Way by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Not just the song; the whole album. Shortly after my divorce, my kids and I took a trip. We drove to Florida and listened to that album for much of the drive. It's a really special memory for me because shortly after that my two oldest boys moved out and got married so it was our last family trip together. It was also one of the happiest times of my life. I have other songs that remind me of the bad times and it's sad the way that can make it difficult to listen to some songs that I really love and that actually helped me through those times. Smells can do the same thing.
1 person likes this
• United States
13 Feb 07
I have a lot to fan videos. After I see a vid to a certain song, I tend to forever associate the song and the fandom. Walking in Memphis is forever and ever associate with the memory of a friend's wedding, where her parents were terrible confused about why we were all joyfully shouting the lyrics, unaware of what it mean to their daughter's geeky XF friends. Another is Walk on the Ocean by Toad the Wet Sprocket. I have a powerful memory of it playing while I was in the car with someone I used to know. That was my last good memory of that person, who a few years later when on to do something horrible and is now serving a life sentence in prison.
1 person likes this
• United States
13 Feb 07
My Psychology teacher Mr. Falls comes to mind whenever I hear Stairway to Heaven. He played it during class and we had to express the moods that the music brought out in us. He was a cool teacher. He had long hair and a beard. He wore a rawhide band across his forehead.
1 person likes this
• United States
13 Feb 07
I have several, but of course can't think of them off the top of my head. LOL I know that song "Big Butts" reminds me of Shrek. I knew the song, of course, before the Shrek movies, but since seeing that movie, I think of the donkey and Eddie Murphy every time I hear it. LOL
1 person likes this
• Grand Junction, Colorado
13 Feb 07
My most recent music and association is from last year. I won a large sum of money and afterwards was listening in the car to the Pussycat Dolls and the song "Don't You Wish Your Girlfriend was a Freak Like Me". Now everytime I here that song it reminds me of money. The two really don't go together but my mind relates the two.
@Script (592)
• Australia
25 Feb 07
Music for me is one of the most powerful senses of recall I have. It's incredible how hearing just a few bars of a song can take me back to a time and place. I have musical associations to holidays I've taken, workplaces I've worked in, relationships I've had, houses I've lived in... you get the picture! Pretty much any important occurance in my life I can associate back to one specific song or albumn. And even some that weren't so important! It never ceases to amaze me what a powerful sense of recall is linked with music. For me it is just as powerful as the sense of smell. The thoughts just come flowing back taking me back to some amazingly good times, and some also not so good. Like the first Dido albumn I always relate to a bad break-up I was having at the time. Which forever annoys me, because before that time I loved that albumn, and I can't listen to it now without remember some things I'd prefer not too.... Franz Fernadaz always reminds me of a holiday I took to Brazil. I hear them and find myself smiling with the fleeting thought of that holiday. Hole always reminds me of a road trip I took through the Northern Territory with a good friend of mine while I was in my twenties... Thanks for the topic, I've got to go now and put on some music, I've been inspired for a trip down memory lane ;-)
@cblackink (969)
• United States
25 Feb 07
I swear, to this day, I could hear the piece of music from the first "Jaws" movie and know exactly what is was and see the scene in my mind!
• Canada
14 Feb 07
My Sweetheart and I listen to a lot of Russian and Ukrainian music. I can think of certain songs that remind me of him every time I hear them. During my parents divorce and just before, "The Motown Song" by Rod Stewart was big. I remember the album that song was on. They used to play that when we were all stuck in the car together. To this day Rod Stewart's voice annoys the crud out of me!!!
• Philippines
14 Feb 07
uhm, i think its one of those associated stimulus were we remember things with things of sounds we hear from that certain moment. when i was in my way to work i smell this perfume from the person beside me and it brings so much memories from my college years and it makes me smile while some passengers think im crazy..smiling without reason. anyway, i also have some assoiation to music. whenever i hear the song Love moves in mysterious ways i always remember the night when i got my heart broken. that was the first song i heard after he left.
@BunGirl (2639)
• United States
13 Feb 07
When I was a kid THE place to hang out in my area was C&N Skate Palace. Everybody had their birthday parties there and most Saturday mornings the line to get in the door wrapped around the building. They had some fun little games that they'd play while people were skating and one of them was called "Gator". It was a contest to see who had the craziest socks. They'd play "Shake It Up" by The Cars and the DJ would give instructions while the music played. Things like "skate backward" "go the other direction" and "freeze in place". As soon as the chorus came on, he'd say "gator" and everybody had to lie down on the floor and kick their feet in the air. Then the judges would come around and pick who had the best socks. Winners got coupons for free stuff at the snack bar. To this day, every time I hear that song, I still hear the word "gator" in my head when the chorus plays!
13 Feb 07
hi there, an intersesting subject to pick. I think i could reply my life in music. It plays a huge part of my life, and hold so many assoiciations with important aspects of my life. One that sdpings to mind is a romanian song, that was played at my step kids shcool at their first mardi gras, it was such an upbeat tune we wrere all dancing, that sond will forever birng a smile to my face. It think music offeres a chance to put soul behind words
13 Feb 07
It is true that feelings and memories are often tagged on to the music that was around at the time. However, I believe music in itself, can communicate regardless of attached associations.
@broden (45)
• Sweden
13 Feb 07
hmm. kool and the gang's celebration makes me think of white wiggers. kinda crazy,but dunno why :P