Posted by: Ernest Barteldes | December 31, 2014

Music and Memories


It is interesting how music affects people in completely different ways. For instance, listening to The Beatles evokes memories of my late childhood and early teenage years. I recall that I was just discovering the music of the Fab Four when I heard about John Lennon’s murder. I remember I was watching some late-night movie and then the film got interrupted for the newsflash. I was 12 back then, but was already a fan, and was looking forward to getting Double Fantasy (“Just Like Starting Over” was playing on the radio a lot back then) for Christmas. Today when I hear any song from that album it takes me back to that fateful night it kind of breaks my heart, even if I love the Lennon half (no, I do not fawn over “Kiss Kiss Kiss”).  Just the other day Renata and I were watching a DVD of John Lennon videos and when “Woman” came on it just brought tears to my eyes.

Renata is not really a Beatles fan, so she couldn’t really relate to the music she was hearing (she did say “Jealous Guy” was a lovely tune).  In all honesty, I only discovered most of John’s solo songs after his passing, since while I was growing up no one had any of the solo-era albums. And that is also true about the solo work of the other former Beatles except maybe Paul McCartney, whose songs got lots of airplay. I recall once hearing “It Don’t Come Easy” and enjoying it a lot it in spite of being completely unaware that it was a Ringo Starr song.

A song that reminds me of my childhood is Rita Lee’s “Coisas Da Vida,” which was actually a minor hit from one of her least-appreciated albums (it has since been rediscovered). I remember when the song came out and it was playing a lot on the radio. I begged all my relatives for a copy of the album – today I have the remastered CD, which is among one of my cherished possessions.

Some albums and songs have a special meaning for me, even if these songs might seem completely off topic. An example of this is Ayo’s 2006 debut Joyful. Whenever I listen to the songs on that disc, I am immediately transported to Krakow, Poland. The singer, however, has zero connection to that country – in fact, she is (according to Wikipedia)  Nigerian-German. So why does she evoke memories of Krakow? Well, it just happened that Renata and I were having a meal at an Italian restaurant called Makaronarnia (http://www.makaroniarnia.com) and the music was playing as we ate. I heard the songs but could not place where I had heard it before, and asked the waitress about it. She brought me the cover and then it hit me – it just happened to be part of my personal collection.

Then there are these songs that remind you of relationships past and present and also the breakups that happen in between. For whatever reason, The Beatles’ “Norwegian Wood” and Queen’s “Save Me” have always had to do with the end of relationships I had in the past.  The latter is quite obvious given Brian May’s poignant words “years of care and loyalty were nothing but a sham it seems,” but John’s lyrics about having an affair using words so that his then wife would not figure out would be out of place. But that is how it worked for me I guess.

Then of course are songs that make you think of present love. As far as I am concerned, Elton John’s “Your Song” evokes the feelings I have for Renata just other tunes have done about past love affairs. Sure, I have written her a song (which I have played live with Bossa D’ Novo – soon to come back as Bossa +), but whenever I hear it I just can’t help to think how she has “the prettiest eyes I have ever seen.”

So let me know – which are the songs that make you think of a specific time in your life?

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