The power of memory

Today while we were puffing along on our daily hill walk, my son asked me what my favorite album was. (He loves to ask the “favorite” question, which almost invariably leads me to say, “I don’t have a favorite,” which is of course never a satisfactory answer.) After thinking about it for a few minutes, I said, “The soundtrack from The Man From Snowy River.

Of course he’d never heard of it — it came out 18 years before he was born — so I told him the story about how my mother and I had loved the music in the film so much that we went back to the theater a second time and watched it again just to hear the soundtrack. Then we went to the speciality record store in town, the one that made special orders and imported music from all over the world, and placed our order. (It was an Australian film — we’d never have found that album in the regular stores.) Weeks later, we got the phone call and went to pick up our brand new LP. Then we put it on our home turntable and proceeded to wear it out.

Man from snowy river

At some point in our enthusiastic playing, we were hit by the scourge of the 33rpm record format: it got scratched. And though the scratch extended across most of the album, it was only deep enough in two places to cause that repetitive “pop” sound. Every time we listened thereafter, two of the songs popped. They were, of course, my two favorite tracks on the album: “Jessica’s Theme (Breaking in the Colt)” and “End Titles.”

When cassettes displaced records, we bought a new copy. And when CDs replaced cassettes, I bought a new copy again. Now I have it on Spotify. But such is the power of memory that even now, 32 years and three formats later, I still expect to hear those pops when I listen to this album. My brain remembers right where they were.

And somehow, my brain also pulls up the original associations with this music and pipes them into my emotional center. Which means that at certain points in “The Chase,” “Mountain Theme,” and “End Titles,” I still get teary-eyed. Every. Dang. Time.

Memory is an amazing thing.

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About Fletcher DeLancey

Socialist heathen and Mac-using author of the Chronicles of Alsea, who enjoys pondering science, politics, well-honed satire (though sarcastic humor can work, too) and all things geeky.
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10 Responses to The power of memory

  1. Krista says:

    Glad to know it isn’t just me. I have an mp3 of a song my mom had on 8-track. Every time the song reaches a certain point, I expect a pause and then that clicking sound the 8-track made when it switches tracks.

  2. oregon expat says:

    Brains are so impressive. But very specific in what they choose to hang on to — I can’t remember the name of someone I was just introduced to ten minutes ago.

    8-track tapes…that was the one format my family missed. (We went from reel-to-reel and LPs straight to cassette.) For some reason I always associate them with Camaros, long-haul truckers and CB radio.

  3. Lisa Shaw says:

    I don’t think that’s so much the power of memory as the power of MUSIC, an art form of which you have lived your life in appreciation to the point of servitude. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course. 😉 And, I loved that album, too. Wore it out on cassette tape.

  4. Sandra Berry says:

    Music is a big memory trigger for me. We grew up with music. Songs of WWII mother sang with the radio recall a vision of wherever she was. My brother and I sometimes break out in a song from the l940’s while driving in the car. I played the Grand Canyon Suite until the LP was unplayable. I loved the thunderstorm and still do. Whenever I hear Earth Angel I’m dancing with my first love to “our song,” The Beach Boys recall memories of Concerts on the Green. Thanks for reminding me about the power of memory. I think I’ll go put on my favorite Eagles CD.

    • oregon expat says:

      Ah, the Grand Canyon Suite. Thanks for reminding me of that; I’ve got it playing right now. 🙂

      And I know exactly what you mean about specific songs bringing on specific memories. To this day, Sting’s “The Lazarus Heart” takes me back to scenes of flying up a mountain highway with the moonroof open, sunlight pouring in, two packs and two pairs of hiking boots in the trunk, and my best friend in the passenger seat. So many great weekends started with that song.

  5. Rob says:

    As an Aussie I am quite chuffed that this particular soundtrack has turned up as part of other people’s musical life tapestry. For me, few pieces of music reflect the action and the story as well as this one does. Makes the heart swell every. single. time.

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