It’s no secret that music is one of the most powerful things that makes us nostalgic, but a radical new approach to analyzing how we receive and store music through the use of brain imaging reveals provides a deeper understanding to why this is the case. Through analysing the auditory cortex and grouping clusters of brain cells, scientists have identified that neural pathways that react almost exclusively to the sound of music. Regardless of the type of music, a distinct set of neurons tucked inside the listener’s auditory cortex fires in response, while other sounds — such as water running, a fire engine’s sirens, or the sounds of traffic — leave the musical circuits unmoved.
How cool is that?!
As awesome as all that science is, something we find equally as groovy is just how much fun it is to share these circuit-firing songs with one another. Over the past few months, we’ve been sharing our love of music with you through our Music Monday posts, and while they’ve not only helped us explore and understand just how powerful the connections between music and nostalgia really are, they’ve also encouraged us to think about the songs that we’ve loved and cherished over the years (and helped to bring them back to life!).
These posts have also encouraged our readers to share with us their own nostalgic favorites, and since we’ve loved hearing their stories, it got us thinking: why not let our readers share their nostalgic music memories on a larger scale?
So with that, dear friends, we’re excited to announce that we will now be accepting guest submissions for Music Monday!
Knowing that we were going to be opening up Music Monday to our readers this week, we decided to see what the experience would be like for a potential contributor. And since so much of my own musical nostalgia was created by the music my parents played for me as a child, I decided to reach out to them so they could contribute some of their own nostalgia-inducing songs.
The verdict? Sure enough, picking their songs and sharing their stories transported them back in time, and the process brought back a flood of happy memories.
As for me, I love that Corey’s Coming is a song that all three of us are nostalgic about—it’s forged a strong connection between all of us and proves just how powerful and timeless a song really can be. Read on to see my parents’ picks, because you never know, you might be nostalgic about some of these songs, too! And then don’t forget to send us yours!
— Sue’s Playlist —
The Song: Forever Young – Bob Dylan
What Makes it Nostalgic: I started listening to Bob Dylan in high school. When I went to college in the late 60’s and early 70’s, his music spoke to the times—Vietnam War protests, campus unrest, the hippie movement—through it all, Dylan’s music was so powerful. Although his style (and his voice) has changed, years later, I am still listening to his music. I have seen him in concert at least 10 times, and lately, I have to read the set list to know what I am listening to at his concerts, but that is the fun of being a long time Bob Dylan fan. His lyrics have always been incredible, and although it was difficult to choose one song, Forever Young is a beautiful reminder of how to look at life.
The Song: All My Life’s A Circle – Harry Chapin
What Makes it Nostalgic: Harry Chapin’s music told stories. He made several appearances in Fort Wayne, Indiana when we were living there. Harry’s music and stories were part of our early married life, and Corey was named after a Harry Chapin song. We were devastated when Harry was killed in a car accident when he was 38 years young. He would end each concert with All My Life’s A Circle, and since everyone knew the words to it, we’d all end up singing along, believing that we would “all be together again.”
The Song: Small Town Saturday Night – Hal Ketchum
What Makes it Nostalgic: Moving to Nashville introduced me to country music. My musical tastes always leaned toward folk or show tunes so this was new for me. Country music was changing during our time in Nashville. Season tickets to Opryland gave us the opportunity to see different country music acts perform live every week, and Hal Ketchum was one of them. His music made me happy. It wasn’t too country, and singing along to his music made the daily commute to school seem a lot easier.
What Makes it Nostalgic: How can this song not make you happy? It makes me want to get up and dance! This song reminds me of a backroads trip to Michigan with my sweet Corey where we listened to this song and sang to it (and all the others on Paul Simon’s Graceland CD). Great songs and wonderful memories!
The Song: Willkommen – Joel Grey (from Cabaret)
What Makes it Nostalgic: I’ve always loved musicals because they combine great music and my love of dance (I was in many musicals myself during high school and college). I can remember singing and dancing to this song in college, belting it out with my kids, and still singing it today! I recently saw this in Denver with Corey, which will be something I remember years from now, too! This version with Joel Grey is one of my favorites.
— Bob’s Playlist —
The Song: Gloria – Them (ft. Van Morrison)
What Makes it Nostalgic: Back in 1966, teenagers like me were caught up in the “garage band” craze. I saved up my paper route money and bought a cheap electric guitar and amplifier. Along with some other ”musicians”, we formed a band (can’t even remember our name). One of the first songs we learned was Gloria. Why? It only had three cords E, D, and A and it just played over and over E D A E D A E D A E D A—just simple enough for us!
What Makes it Nostalgic: Back in the early 70’s, Sue and I met at Ohio University. How we met is a story of its own, but back to the song: I lived in a palace on 118 East State St. in Athens, OH. It was a single room that I shared with Bob Tomko. We painted it black and red with a one bulb ceiling “mood” light. We took turns on who had the place on weekends, and one of my favorite pastimes was to put Dennis Yost & The Classic IV on the turntable and dance with Sue. I can still remember humming/singing Everyday With You Girl while we danced the night away.
Side Note: We knew that it was a log cabin when we lived there, but we had no idea it would turn into a historical monument!! Here’s the very room:
The Song: Corey’s Coming – Harry Chapin
What Makes it Nostalgic: In the mid-70’s, we lived in Indiana and enjoyed Fort Wayne Komets hockey, the Franke Park Zoo, Coney Island hot dogs, and the Embassy Theatre. Corey’s mom and I had been big Harry Chapin fans and attended lots of concerts and events featuring Harry. One of the best was at the Embassy Theatre, when our son Kurt was three and Sue was pregnant with Corey. We loved Harry’s Corey’s Coming and we loved the name Corey, so it became her namesake. After she was born, I spent many a night holding her and singing this song to her to get her to quiet down and sleep—worked every time!
The Song: La Bamba – Los Lobos (by Ritchie Valens)
What Makes it Nostalgic: Here we are at Corey’s graduation from Ohio Wesleyan, having a great time celebrating, when out of nowhere a never before seen Kurt (Corey’s brother) hits the karaoke stage in Delaware, OH. I never have laughed so hard in my life. In Spanish and actually pretty good—it must have been all the Blue Moon beer he had consumed. Who could ever forget this!
The Song: My Brother Eats Bugs – James Hersch
What Makes it Nostalgic: Zoey attended a concert at church featuring a live performance by James Hersch and she loved it. Corey got the CD and shared it with us. I loved My Brother Eats Bugs and love to sing it to my grandkids, Elsa, Zoey, and Robert. Don’t know if they like it, but I sure do!
So what are you waiting for? Click here to share with us the songs that transport you back in time! Feel free to share one song, or only just a few, or even an entire playlist (up to 10 songs)! We’ll be in touch after you submit to let you know when you’ll be featured on the site.