Music has been a major outlet for human creativity ever since “early man” first pounded rhythms on a rock. Since then, contemporary culture has demanded diversity from composers, leading to the rise of rap, rock, pop, techno, a cappella, and many other styles. The varying beauty and subtle messages conveyed through music affect the principles and ideals of all who care to listen. Whether I am a member of an audience or performing for one, music and what it reminds me of give the most accurate representation of who I am.
I believe in nostalgia. I believe in reminiscing fondly about the past and I believe in the power of music to represent these memories. Through songs from bands such as The Beach Boys or Queen, I can easily remember summers spent surfing with my uncle and bike rides taken with my family. I remember them because of music.
In the summer of 2006, my parents made a life-changing decision for our family. Offered a job as a salesman for an independent review board, my dad was presented with the option of living anywhere in the country. Through a calling that can only be explained as divine intervention, we moved away from the wealth-obsessed society of Southern California to the barbecue-oriented Southern culture of Asheville, North Carolina.
Their decision to move created within me an uncomfortable (yet understandable) ambivalence: I easily made friends once we got to Asheville, but I had left behind—and now missed—almost my entire family. I especially missed my uncle, whom I recall had taught me how to draw, swear, surf, gamble, and how to always have a good time.
And I remember him because of music.
I remember the first time my uncle played me a Beach Boys song on the radio. We were in his car driving back from a day at Corona del Mar, having surfed countless waves for hours on end. We were both exhausted, half-asleep after five minutes of driving. Yet he somehow mustered enough energy to sing and teach me the lyrics of “Surfin’ Safari.” Though it was a seemingly insignificant gesture at the time, now, as I write about it, hundreds of miles from any surfable beach, I realize how special it felt to know that my uncle would take time out of his life to teach me how to sing and surf. I’m almost positive that I would have enjoyed the song even more without his vocal input, but his actions left an imprint on my life that remained a cherished memory, one that I think about any time The Beach Boys play.
Our species’s survival relies on this type of ostensibly trivial memory. Personal recollections keep an individual motivated amidst difficulties by reminding him that better times lie ahead. Some say that hindsight hinders progress, but, more often than not, one cannot move forward without looking back. And what reasons have we to not look back? Memories are the poetry and the music of the mind. We must soon realize that, although scientific theories and technological propositions can be disproven and forgotten, memories last a lifetime…music keeps them alive.