Memories are weird things.  We can sit in a room we’ve never been in, and smell a smell… then Woosh!  We remember a moment in time from 20 years earlier.  It doesn’t make sense, we understand it, but we it doesn’t really make sense.  Like for me, the smell of creosote reminds me of vivid times with my family sailing all over the place.  It’s not a pleasant scent to be sure, but it’s pleasant because of the wonderful memories I get from the merest absorption in my nose.

There has always been music in my life.  My mother was very musical and loves all sorts of music.  My father would inundate himself with music because he traveled so much to and from work, etc.  Me, I’ve fallen in love with so many tastes/touches/genres/styles/etc…. I’ve played them with a few instruments I’ve picked up along the way.  Except grunge or hard rock, my guitar chops were never that good.

The joining of music and memories is a strong one for a lot of people.  I have vivid memories of people who only involve music or song.  And songs, and artists, and the like sometimes are one of my few links to some people who I care for dearly, that for some reason now are gone and far away.

To this day, I’ll listen to a tape that a good friend of mine made for me for my missions trip to Kenya when I was in college to remind myself of that trip.  I’ll drink a good cup of chai (tea), and lean back in my comfy chair and reflect on the time there, and the time since.  The music isn’t from Africa… it’s what helped me while I went.

My earliest memories of music connecting to someone are my memories of my father driving hours back and forth to Birmingham, and the music he tended to be able to quote at me verbatim.  He knew the artists, albums, and sometimes even the dates when they were released.  I know that he listened to R&B and Linda Ronstadt and Bob Dylan and James Taylor…. etc etc etc.  Since we didn’t have lots of time together often I had a desire to be like him, so I too learned to love to absorb the music on the road.  I love road trips nowadays, and always have a good playlist.  It’s a joyful thing to be sure.

Elton John has been a favourite musician in my life from when I was very young.  I attribute that to my cousin John.(they’re not related hehe)  When we would visit him and my aunt, he was (and is I believe) several years older than me and was already into music… so I got started early hanging around with him.  I remember going into the music room, turning all the lights off, laying down on the plush carpeting and listening to whole albums, nothing illuminated except the console record player.  What an innocent time that was!  I don’t think I’ve ever thanked him for opening my eyes to listen to the whole album.  There are so many songs I would have missed if I only listened to the few popular cuts that the radio played.  That set up in my understanding a strict internal code that if the album only had one or two songs of worth on it, that I wouldn’t keep it.  Even if there was a great song on it that I loved, it didn’t merit my keeping it.  I guess that makes me kind of a music snob.  Oh well.

Anyway, there is a visceral connection to the music I’ve heard and most people I cherish.  If I hear the right song, I can almost well-up and cry or laugh uncontrollably because of the ability to flash back to a particular time and place.  But sometimes, music is a lens that I can see others through, or music is something that teaches me about life through what it teaches me about myself and others.  But tonight I’m awash with the way I remember certain people just from a song or singer or group or situation.

One such person was a lady I dated in college and we met during a christian conference.  At the end of that conference there was a worship service, and a lot of us were in the same place in our lives…. telling God to send us wherever He wished.  We were willing to throw our expectations out the door and turn our control over to Him.  During one song she broke down and cried, and I stood up and cheered  (for completely different reasons… ask me sometime about it)… Oblivious to everyone around us, we turned to each other and saw Christ in each other and we hugged.  And we released things.   A very temporal, physical gesture to cement something that God was doing in both of us.  I will always remember her when that worship song plays, or when I pick up my guitar and strum it out loud.  Even now I get a little grin at remembering how amazing God can really be, when we actually get out-of-the-way.

And there are many others… how do you remember people?  What songs stand as reminders of amazing times or amazing people?  Can a particular song make you smile or cry or laugh out loud?

I even wonder what other people are listening to when they think of me.  That’s a scary thought don’t you think?

Ah well, God said if there weren’t anyone around to do it, the rocks and trees and all of creation would sing out in praise of Him.  So, even if we’re not around, there’s music to behold.  Find a song and watch how it tethers you to someone else.

Until the chords resonate for the second part of this,