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Old 01-05-2019, 05:13 PM   #1
charlene
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Default MUSIC MEMORIES - Toronto Star-Jan.3,2019

Streaming music helps family tune into the past
By UZMA JALALUDDINSpecial to the Star
Wed., Jan. 2, 2019

Listening to music is a powerful experience; it can alter moods, lift or lower spirits, and play time machine to long-forgotten memories. Music is powerful in other ways too, providing therapy for people with a variety of conditions, including autism, depression, and dementia.

Music therapy is particularly effective for people struggling with dementia and Alzheimer’s. “Musical memories are often preserved in Alzheimer’s disease because key brain areas linked to musical memory are relatively undamaged by the disease…Music can also benefit caregivers by reducing anxiety and distress, lightening the mood, and providing a way to connect with loved ones,” according to a report from The Mayo Clinic.

Listening to different genres and styles of music is also a bridge to memory. I grew up listening to old Bollywood hits, played while we prepped the house for weekend dawaats (dinner parties). The songs were played on old vinyl records, then later cassette tapes, melodies about longing and loss, growing up, finding love, experiencing heartbreak: “Awara hoon” and “Khoya, Khoya Chand” and Lata Mangeshkar’s songs.

While I enjoyed some of these Bollywood tunes, my chores were usually performed amid the backdrop of early ’90s Top 40 hits — Mariah Carey, Nirvana, Oasis, Boyz II Men, blaring from the radio in my room.

Today my own kids listen to music streamed on an app or YouTube, bopping along to songs that will someday define their generation.

A few weeks ago, my husband, sons and I had to run an errand at Vaughan Mills with my father. The five of us piled into the car, Dad riding shotgun beside my husband. From the backseat, 11-year-old Ibrahim was eager to play DJ, streaming music from my phone to the car speakers. Dad was impressed.

“You can pick any song you want, and it will automatically play through the speakers?” he asked. “And Ibrahim is controlling this all from the backseat? Is there a remote?”

My son generously offered to put together a playlist for his grandfather, to keep us entertained on the drive. Dad’s first request was “Heart of Gold” by Neil Young.

At the familiar first notes, my father told us about the first time he had heard this song — decades ago, while on a road trip from Louisiana to Florida with college friends. The song was playing everywhere they stopped. Listening to it now, he was instantly transported to his grad school days, living on his own for the first time, far away from everyone he knew in Hyderabad, India.

“Play ‘Sundown’ by Gordon Lightfoot next,” Dad requested. And then, “How about ‘Tie a Yellow Ribbon Around the Old Oak Tree.’ Your mom used to love that song. Have you seen the music video?”

After that we listened to “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head’ by B.J. Thomas, followed by “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” as sung by Diana Ross, another favourite of my mother’s. I always thought Urdu ghazal poetry was more her speed.

This trip down memory lane reminds me of the Netflix show Explained. One of the episodes centred around the unique human ability to differentiate pitch, tone, and rhythm, something that no other species has been shown to do.

On the way home, my husband requested, “You’ve Got the Touch” by Stan Bush, from the original 1986 animated Transformers movie. “I still get goosebumps when I listen to this song,” he told Mustafa and Ibrahim.

“Why, was the movie scary?” Ibrahim asked.

“No. It’s because the song reminds me of the past,” my husband replied.

Ibrahim thought about this for a moment, before playing “Sunflower” by Post Malone and Swae Lee, currently on repeat on his playlist.

As we drove home, I thought about the story my Dad had shared from his student days, the impulsive road trip with his equally broke grad student friends. I thought I had heard all of his stories, and knew all of his favourite music. I had no idea my dad was a fan of Gordon Lightfoot, Diana Ross or Neil Young.

I suppose there are some memories that can only be unlocked by the right song.
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Old 01-07-2019, 06:18 AM   #2
paskatefan
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Default Re: MUSIC MEMORIES - Toronto Star-Jan.3,2019

What an inspiring story! Can you imagine a world without music?

Her husband has great taste in music!

Gail
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Old 01-08-2019, 08:37 AM   #3
Martyn Miles
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Default Re: MUSIC MEMORIES - Toronto Star-Jan.3,2019

Yes, there are some memories that can only be unlocked by the right song.
Gord’s ‘ Something Very Special’ says a lot about the girl I met in the ‘70s, who
went on to be my wife.

She could be homespun, or free and easy on the run.
Meek and mild, or full of fun.
Cigarettes would make her strange, but fortunately she gave them up.
I can capture something of her in many verses of that song.
Fortunately she didn’t go away, like Gordon’s girl did.

I can listen to that song and those words touch deep places, as many of GL’s songs do.
Thank you, Gordon Lightfoot, for the musical memories you have given me.
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