A familiar song plays in the distance and instead of the words coming to my mind, what hovers large is the memory of a friend. And it’s not as if it’s a song that the friend and I have shared. It’s some random association with the friend. Sometimes it’s a word. A sentence. A tune. Sometimes even an accent.

For instance, for that friend in the UK, it’s a song that has a nasal twang. It’s not as if the song or the words have any significance. But every time I hear that song I think of this particular friend.

Then there’s a CD I bought on one of my memorable holidays. As soon the first notes of the first song play I am transported there… my mind is on a holiday… Happy days!

And of course who does not associate at least one Hindi movie song with a friend. Years ago in school, my friend and I were given a task by her mother: to take her younger brother for a popular Hindi movie running full houses at that time. Pseudo-intellectuals that we were at that time, we decided that since we did not want to watch the movie but it was mandatory, we’d have our fun by singing the chorus in the songs aloud. That we embarrassed little brother was one thing, but somehow the song stuck in my head and being one of those eternally hit songs of the Hindi filmdom, every time I hear the strains of that song being played I think of my friend and her brother.

Then there is this song which reminds me of my son. Funny story there. I heard it on a cd he had recorded for himself and played in the car while I was driving. I asked him to record it for me too. He stubbornly refused. Why? I asked. The reason was somewhat logical in its eccentricity. He said that he and I were not supposed to like the same music, because then where was the generation gap! Well, really! (I now call it the Generation Gap song!)

I once wrote about a song that I heard similarly on my car CD player. My daughter was so proud I actually wrote about an alternative rock song that it gave her bragging rights in her peer group. Her friends looked at me with renewed interest and greater respect and bemoaned the fact that their mothers would not even think of hearing that song. I smiled. That song, you are right, is now inextricably linked to my daughter.

And so it goes on. One never knows when a new association will crop up. And then, song, note, tune, language, accent, meaning… all get inextricably entwined with memories, feelings, people – still around and long gone. And even when the last note of the song dies down and I can’t hear it anymore, that music continues playing on the chords of my mind.
Isn’t music as much for the heart as it is for the mind?