The Dangerous Side of Listening to Music

I had a flashback memory today. You know the kind — a memory comes rushing back and you haven’t thought about that moment in a really long time.

With all these holiday movies on, I was thinking about The Holiday. I’ll watch it every time it’s on TV. Because we’ve already established I’m a sap. And I remembered the first time I saw it.

I saw it in the theater with my two best friends. At this time, I was in an on again and off again relationship.  I worked with the guy, so I had to see him all the time. I don’t think I had much opportunity to heal after we recently called it off.

I remember crying through so much of the movie. I could really relate to Kate Winslet’s character Iris. She was in love with a guy that didn’t love her back. But what really set me off was her big speech to Jack Black’s character about what it’s like to be in a one sided love story.

Listen, I know it’s hard to believe people when they say I know how you feel. But I actually know how you feel… Turned out he wasn’t in love with me, like I thought. What I am trying to say is I understand feeling as small and insignificant as humanly possible. And how it can ache in places that you didn’t know you had inside you. And it doesn’t matter how many new haircuts you get, or gyms you join, or how many glasses of Chardonnay you drink with your girlfriends, you still go to bed every night going over every detail and wonder what you did wrong. Or how you could have misunderstood.  And how in the hell for that brief moment you could think that you were that happy. And sometimes you convince yourself that he will see the light and show up at your door.”

Yes, I just typed out her monologue. Because it was exactly how I felt.

I had the endless glasses of wine with friends. I had cut my hair off. I was spending lots of time with friends that made me feel good. I had even been stupid enough to flirt with a guy friend that I thought was flirting with me even though I knew he was in a relationship. (I have made some poor decisions. Especially back then. I was reeling and feeling awful and didn’t know how to deal with it.)

I was feeling low, and some made up character just hit the nail on the head about my frustration and pain.

It can feel like a minefield out there. Listening to the radio can bring back such strong memories, some good and some are really hard to relive. And I listen to a lot of music, so it can be especially treacherous.

Hearing The Freshmen by the Verve Pipe takes me back to freshman year in high school and my first slow dance- it was with Ray Ihle. Oh, he was dreamy.

Let Her Go by Passenger reminds me of Christmas Eve last year. I was driving home to be with my family. I was still getting over my heartbreak from a few months prior, and  I cried driving home. I still get a chill up my spine when I hear it.

And Vertical Horizon reminds me of Joe, my high school sweetheart. I had such a big crush on him. I had a car and drove him home after we were all hanging out one night. That song was playing on my tape deck in my Sundance, and I wanted him to kiss me so badly. It took a few more months before he came around, but we ended up dating for 3 and a half years (oy, that’s another story).

Even listening to happy pop music can upset me sometimes because it brings back the memory of a happier time. It might make me remember sharing hopes and dreams with the guy, or singing it out loud thinking that I was so happy.

I actually had to re-write this article because of the effect that some of this music had on me. It triggered a strong memory that I will share tomorrow. Listening to that song, writing those memories put me into a really dark place. It gave a context for the rest of the day, unfortunately. Hearing almost any song, it could be about a beautiful day or it could be about lost love, made me feel raw and exposed.

It’s that feeling when you cut yourself by accident. And the pain hurts because you ripped open some skin. And you can’t do anything to make it go away. You have to think about something else, you have to keep going because it will go away eventually.

That was how I felt. Cut open, exposed, raw, hurting. And music is what brought it all back for me, so clearly, so plainly.

Why does music have such a  strong tie to memory? Does anyone know what the science is behind this? What music and movie memories do you have? While some of my memories were painful, I actually enjoyed thinking back on all the music and movie memories I had. Share yours below!

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2 thoughts on “The Dangerous Side of Listening to Music

  1. In acting, music that we have a personal relationship can take us back to a memory or an emotional state that allows us to connect with certain feelings we need to have in a particular moment for a particular role. Not sure what the scientific reasoning is behind it- but I have my go to songs!

  2. Pingback: That Moment You Know It’s the Beginning of the End | Single Gal Starting Over

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