Music Head

Given my obsession with music, you might guess that it had always been that way, that I popped out of the womb headbanging to the latest hits, but it wasn’t like that at all. In fact, as a child, I had no interest at all in the music around me.

But when I was twelve years old, my best friend Alan and I made friends with a new boy who had moved into the same street where we lived, but up around the bend. It was the Summer holidays, and we would spend time up at his house, because there was a flat roof on the garage which made a good recreational area.

I haven’t mentioned the ther boy’s name, because, to be honest, I can’t remember it. The three of us attended three different schools, and I think that frendships tended to become more school-oriented after that age, so we drifted apart. However, I do remember that he was much cooler than us. He owned a record player and records, which were brought out into the garden or onto the garage roof.

He was a fan of Creedence Clearwater Revival, and, of course, I’d never heard of them, but it was fine music for a warm Summer’s day. So, I think that was the very start of my education in rock music.

In retrospect, you wouldn’t really think of Creedence being a likely choice at such a young age, so my friend must have been even cooler than I thought. Actually, when I try to remember those days, the image that comes to mind is of three young men hanging out and chilling together. You know, maybe eighteen or so. I think that goes to prove that I’ve forgotten what it was like to be a child, and am substituting the earliest age range that I can conceive of being.

Memories are funny things. For a start, the scientists don’t really know how they work, whether information is somehow encoded in neurons or synapses; or in diffuse patterns of biophysical activity across the brain. It seems to me that if you don’t access a memory for a long time, it becomes thinner and less substantial, but if you regularly recall a particular memory, the edges wear off it, and it becomes less precise, more of a blob with just the principal facts.

But then, some things can cause you to recall a long-past experience very vividly. I find that smells can have that effect. Or with me, music. When I hear something that I was familiar with decades ago, but haven’t heard since, it all comes flooding back, and I can remember every sha-la-la-la, every woh-oh-woh.

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