I was interested in how music effects our memories and emotional states. So, I went out to find some people willing to talk about memories of theirs. I would sit the participant down and ask them to tell me about a significant memory that still brought on emotions. Most people would discuss the death of a loved one, a break up, or a time where they felt the most love and encouragement. After hearing the details of the memory I would ask if there was a song associated with this time. For most, all but two, there was. I then would ask if they heard the song today what would happen. For those that did remember the song, in most cases, they would begin to show the emotion on their face, like the song was playing in their mind, and they would explain that if they heard it the emotions would come back (probably not as strong) and they would be trapped in that memory for a few seconds or minutes. Not all participants followed this path.
One girl, age 23, was speaking of the song "Stay" by the band Sugarland. She expressed to me that three years ago her boyfriend of four years, who was younger than her, left for college. As she waved goodbye from her car, pulling out of his driveway she remembers hearing the words "Why don't you stay, I'm down on my knees" playing and in that moment she says she connected to that song. Though she and that boyfriend have since parted she still feels a pain of sadness whenever she hears the song "Stay" and she thinks she always will.
On the same note I interviewed a young man, age 16, who spoke of the death of his grandfather. His memory was of riding to the hospital to be with his family after getting word that his mother's father had passed away. The participant described his emotional state and the sadness that was surrounding him. He went on to describe the moments in the hospital seeing his grandfather for the last time and hugging his mother. I asked if there was a song that reminded him of this experience. He referenced the song "If Heaven Wasn't So Far Away" by Justin Moore. He said that as they drove back home he heard this tune for the first time. His connection to the song was immediate he says, because it describes wanting to see your grandfather in heaven. I asked if he ever hears the song today. He said he does and that at times it brings on an overwhelming amount of emotion and sometimes it helps him to hear it. In his words, "it reminds me that Grandpa is doing okay and he's with Jesus."
The study involved ten participants ranging in ages from 16 to 52. I was able to confirm my beliefs that music is deeply rooted to our emotions and to our memories. For each participant that could recall a song, they had a tie to it and an emotion connected to it. Though the emotions were not always the same there was always a type of deep recollection that could be seen and found. Music is the tool that can help to relive parts of our lives or at least be taken back in time for just a moment.