September 19, 2013

Radios Complete the Memories

No memory from one’s youth is complete without a mental picture of time spent gathered around a radio listening to tunes with friends. From the mid-single digit years onwards, it seems that people learn to love certain songs and listen to them every chance they get. Some, of course, go that extra interactive step by singing along with every word, knowing every line as intimately as the singer who created the piece. The formats have changed over the years, but the central idea has remained the same. From boom boxes, to smaller boom boxes, to CD players to seemingly nothing for a time – remember that almost no one was wearing headphones immediately prior to the release of the original iPod – to Pandora to Sirius, the ‘radio’ has stayed.

Listening to a DJ spinning tunes while occasionally adding commentary between songs has phased out in popularity, at least among a younger generation who grew up shuffling between their own songs without commercial interruption. But the basic format of listening to music because it’s enjoyable or because it stirs up emotions has stayed since the Beatles made popular music popular. The format may continue to evolve until we’re fully wired with internal music players, but the idea seems likely to remain the same eternally. And that idea is that music helps to seal the memories around every occasion.

Whether it’s during a party and everyone is dancing, or while heading out solo for a drive with head bopping to the music, music makes all the difference in how we remember the pleasure of a moment. Noticing the phenomenon, even cell phones now offer music rather than a traditional ‘ringing’ sound to announce that a friend is calling. Free ringtones are a cool way to update your phone’s standard set of sounds, adding a personable and memorable touch to the air each time someone calls.