27
Feb
07

Connections between music and place

The other day Heather and I were watching TV and a PBS promotional ad came on.  The music in the background was “Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness” from the Smashing Pumpkins’ similarly titled 1995 double album.  I haven’t listened to this album in a long time and hearing it again made me remember my history with it, which is intimately tied to geographical location.

During high school, my indie purism prevented me from my buying any of their albums – they were just too mainstream.  However, during my year in Germany after college, I bought this album at a used record store in Cologne just before I moved from Cologne to Wilhelmshaven.  I listened to this CD a lot when I lived in Wilhelmshaven.  Because I listened to the album so much while living there, any time I hear it, it brings to mind images of the place.  Vertigo by Jump, Little Children is another album that is linked in my mind to Wilhelmshaven.  My friend Jeff sent it to me for my birthday just after I had moved there and I listened to it all the time – particularly while I was on the bus or train.  So, whenever I hear that album, it conjures up images of bus and train travel through northern Germany.

I have a similar connection between the Pixies’ Come on Pilgrim and a driving trip through England that my family took in the 90’s.  Now, whenever I hear songs from that album, I remember getting out of our car at Stonehenge and driving down the left side of the road through the English countryside.

It’s funny how our brains make these sorts of connections.  Does anyone else have these sorts of connections?

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3 Responses to “Connections between music and place”


  1. February 27, 2007 at 12:54 pm

    I want to see Stonehenge! (I may have mentioned this a million times in the last month – though I don’t know why I suddenly have such an interest in it.)

    I too have these connections with certain music. For example: Jars of Clay’s “Much Afraid” my brother sent me when I lived in Argentina – I would listen to it while running on the country roads (between fields of Sunflowers!). That “I’m to sexy for my shirt” song reminds me of when we lived in Germany and watched MTV on the TV in the upstairs lounge of our apt building. And I often associate worship music with places and people from whom I learned them – they come to mind (happily) when I sing those songs in a different place.

    Okay, enough examples. All this to say: Yes, I do have these sorts of connections. :)

  2. February 28, 2007 at 6:21 pm

    I’m the same way about Seldom’s Romance album. Andy sent it to me in Germany and whenever I listen to it, I see the walk from the S-Bahn stop to work and the S-Bahn stop past Porcheplatz back home.

    To a lesser extent, I tie Notwist’s Neon Golden to Germany, as that was the only other new music I had that summer.

  3. February 28, 2007 at 6:27 pm

    I am so geographically oriented that there are books I associate with where I lived at the time. Most songs on the radio, ask me where I was when I heard it first, I can tell you.

    When I went to Vienna in college, they played “Vienna waits for you” by Billy Joel as our bus pulled into town. So I actually associate that song with the place it is about.


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