“As I Lay Me Down”
Sophie B. Hawkins
A small, blonde-haired little girl is sitting in an almost-empty Friendly’s eating ice cream. There are probably other people there, but all you can focus on is this little girl, who is listening to “As I Lay Me Down” over the loudspeaker and feeling unsure about why she feels like she might need to cry. The tears are not out of sadness, but because of how moved she felt about this song.
Welcome to my memory! Strange as it may be, this is what comes to mind when I hear this song. It happens every time, without fail: all of my senses become heightened and it’s like I’m right back with my 7-year-old self. It’s an unbelievable feeling to be transported back there and to relive that memory so vividly. I don’t think there’s any significance to that particular moment sitting in Friendly’s. I’m not exactly sure why it stands out so much- maybe I just haven’t figured it out yet.
Here’s a little neuroscience theory for you, though: It is believed that music can become integrated into the parts of the brain that are linked to emotions and autobiographical memories. When you hear a song that has been integrated into those areas, they are activated and our brains begin to replay the associated memory. 
That’s about as far as my knowledge on neuroscience theory goes, but what that tells me is something I already believed to be true: music is incredibly powerful. We as humans can’t help but be affected by songs and melodies; it is literally part of our biology- as though I needed any validation for my affinity towards music.
I am walking outside, alone, headphones blasting, breathing heavily, crying, angrier and more hurt than I think I’ve ever felt before. I’m a little scared because I’m in an unfamiliar place, but I don’t care and keep walking. I want to get lost, to make someone else feel terrible and unnerved. I want them to look for me, to follow behind far enough away so that I can’t see them, but so that I’d know they were there to protect me. When they start to follow me, I get angrier that I’m not being left alone.
Welcome to my memory. This song has been a trigger for me for several years, sparking strong feelings of anger, disbelief, and disappointment. This song brings me back to a night when I was part of one of the worst fights I have ever had. I never knew one person could hurt me so much, and I was so shocked that the only things I could think to do were walk and listen to music.
At the time, I chose to play this song because it made me feel uneasy (the whole thing is a little eerie with its minor chords and all) and because it was full of expression and angst that helped neutralize my anger. The chorus rang louder than my own thoughts, which quieted them down as they realized they couldn’t compete with the music.
I can remember exactly how I felt that night, and though I’ve since moved past this experience, I still react a bit to that memory when I hear this song. I’m proud to report that I was able to listen through the entire thing, more than once even, and not feel the need to turn it off. I actually think writing this post has helped me achieve an even deeper level of healing, forgiving, and letting go.
“Send Me On My Way”
Twenty-one years old, days away from graduating, and singing in the last concert I’d ever have with my a cappella group. We had finished our finale song, and as I was relishing in my last few moments with these incredibly talented people, I was asked to sit down in a small row of chairs that had been repositioned by the underclassmen.
I sat with the three other seniors, facing the stage, and before I could register what was going on, the rest of the group began to sing “Send Me On My Way.” My entire body filled with goosebumps hearing the bouncy melody, and I remember feeling like I was frozen for a second, completely overwhelmed, trying to process what I was hearing. Once I realized what song it was, the tears quickly followed.
Welcome to my memory. The day of this Senior Send-Off concert was one that I’ll never forget. Each of the four seniors had the opportunity for a solo performance, which gave me a few minutes to sing from my heart and have a moment to shine. But that nearly pales in comparison to what we got in return from the singers that would carry on the legacy of our group.
I sat doe-eyed watching and listening to the most touching tribute I could’ve ever asked for, and hearing this song now fills me the same warm, vibrant glow as I felt watching this performance unfold. I always wonder if those group members truly understand what that performance meant to me, how grateful I am for getting the chance to sing with them, and how much I carry that memory with me.
"If You're Not the One"
A 13-year old girl lays on her friends bed, door locked, crying over the guy she’s absolutely meant to be with while listening to Daniel Beddingfield, despondent over messing up her chances. This boy, the one that asked her to the middle school dance, the one who she agreed to go to the middle school dance with, asked her to dance! How wonderful, right?
The request sent her into a downward spiral into the pits of teen angst, and she found herself tearful, alone, and missing the after party, all while pining over this boy. She was so sure that he was “the one” and could not come to terms with the fact that she declined his request to dance and therefore ruined everything forever. Pure “tragedy.”
Welcome to my memory! I played this song incessantly, not just on the night of the middle school dance. I learned the words, I longed for this kind of love, I sang it to no one at the top of my lungs. I embodied this song for a very long time (or at least it felt like a long time looking back; in teen-time, it may have only been 10 days).
At 13, it was the most sentimental, mature expression of love I’d ever heard, and I was sure that was what I was feeling (rest assured I now know better). I remember feeling so many conflicting things and being confused by it all that when I listen to it now, I actually get a little bit uncomfortable! I guess this pivotal moment in my hormone-driven youth that is just too awkward to keep reliving. One listen for this post was enough, please and thank you.
Friday: “Swing, Swing” The All-American Rejects
We were limitless, free, and happy. High school seniors who were passing drivers tests, buying cars and taking them anywhere they could possibly think of. We would stuff ourselves in trunks and head to the beach, windows down, salty air taking over the car. We sang at the top of our lungs through our Yellowcard, The Killers and The All-American Rejects playlists. There was nothing to worry about, a sense of ease and confidence that things would forever stay just as they were, perfect and easy and truly blissful. The summer before college was defined by “Swing, Swing.”
Welcome to my memory. The sense of nostalgia that washes over me hearing this song is incredible, but also bittersweet. I was extremely shy in high school, not at all popular and very content sitting quietly in class and doing my work. But, I was part of a group of 7 friends who were inseparable. We spent entire weekends together, had backyard campouts (and tortured the boys when they were asleep), watched scary movies, went for drives, rehearsed movie scripts, wrote movie scripts, pulled all-nighters and walked for bagels at 5 AM, right when the store would open. We were our own breed and we did things a little differently than many 17 year olds, and it was beautiful.
Some of us are still pretty close while some of us have drifted apart. I want to say that I’ve accepted how things are, for the most part I have, but I think deep down I still have faith that one day we’re all going to come together again and breathe a sigh of relief, thinking “yeah, this is how it’s supposed to be.” We have our 10 year high school reunion coming up so maybe this will be the year.
Writing out all of these memories has been kind of unreal, like a mini autobiography of some pivotal moments in my life. I’m happy to have gotten the chance to reflect so much.
Stand-Out Song: "Send Me On My Way"
Between Matilda and graduating from college, this song has become a symbol of growing up.
What song reminds you of an important childhood memory?
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© Copyright Whatismyhealth, April 30th, 2017
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