Musical triggers.

Music sometimes engenders distinct visual images and remembrances in me.  The music can be random or have no particular association with the remembrance other than that I link both hearing the song and a very specific time, place and surroundings.  Whenever I hear that song, I immediately am transported to the memory with visual recollections that are vivid and detailed.

Here are a few of my most distinct memories and the songs that trigger them. There are many, many more.  What are yours?

Never Can Say GoodbyeGloria Gaynor –  I am sitting at a counter on the sixth floor of St Joseph’s Hospital about 9 pm on some evening in 1974 when I am an intern on call at the hospital and writing an admission history in a metal hospital chart. The music is playing from a transistor radio that is in the corner of the desk. I have an image of one of the nurses working that shift as well – she had a funny little crinkled nurses cap (back when they didn’t just wear sweat pants and floral shirts).

I Try – Macy Gray.  I am standing on a hillside on the island of Brac on November 10, 2000 (I know the date exactly because I know when I took the photo) with my friend Daren Trudeau.  We have stopped to admire the view of the Adriatic ( Donna and Al Blair in the car ahead of us)  and walked across to the edge of the hillside. The car door is open and I Try is playing on the radio.  Interestingly, I have talked to Daren about this and he has the same vivid memory of the song and the location. Later that morning the four of us  were on a deserted beach and Daren and I succumbed to the temptation of stripping down and running into the Adriatic.

I took this photo while Macy Gray blared out I Try from the car radio behind us on the road.

I took this photo while Macy Gray blared out I Try from the car radio behind us on the road.

SwimSeptember Morn – Neil Diamond.   I am driving my new 1983 Oldsmobile home from Goderich to Kincardine.  It is the first car that I had with any decent sound (or one that ran quiet enough to hear what was on the radio). With the car came a GM cassette tape that opened with this song – lots of bass.  Loved it.

Quetico Canoe Trip 2001

Quetico Canoe Trip 2001

Crackin’ Rosie – another Neil Diamond song.  I am standing at a campsite in Quetico Park in August 2001 with Catherine Mikhail.  We are the designated clean up crew after our camp dinner. Brian Perkins had brought a little transistor radio and we finally found a station. We both sang along to Cracklin Rosie as we scrubbed the soot off the pots. Good times.



Top of the World – The Carpenters.  It is November 9, 1973. I am in my green 1969 Volkswagen stopped at the lights at the  corner of Cheapside and Adelaide Streets in London, Ontario at about 8 in the morning. I am heading to Victoria Hospital to see my daughter, Kate,  who was born the previous afternoon.


Holding my one day old daughter - November 10, 1973.  Top of the World.

Holding my one day old daughter – November 9, 1973. Top of the World.

Top of the World

Such a feelin’s comin’ over me
There is wonder in most every thing I see
Not a cloud in the sky, got the sun in my eyes
And I won’t be surprised if it’s a dream

Everything I want the world to be
Is now comin’ true especially for me
And the reason is clear, it’s because you are here
You’re the nearest thing to Heaven that I’ve seen. 

I feel the same 40 years later when I sing along to this song.  And now that my kids have kids of their own, they will understand this feeling.


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