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"Songs and people"

I’ve been thinking about the associations I make between songs and people. Typically it goes from a song to a person – i.e. I hear a song and immediately a person comes to mind. I don’t mean the singer/band member (except for one or two cases), just ‘ordinary’ friends of mine. The reason it’s interesting is because I don’t know that I really make any other association with people so consistently (except for the obvious ones of name and where they live, or places I’ve been on holiday with people).

I don’t associate different drinks or food or smells or words with different people, or films. Possibly books, I suppose, if I’ve been introduced to an author/series by a particular person. It’s not usually ‘special’ songs (in the sense “this is our song”), again with the exception of one or two instances.

No, songs are quite different. For example, everytime I hear or think of the song “Jolene” by Dolly P, my mate penguin immediately comes to mind. Similarly, “Girl I’m Gonna Miss You” (Milli Vanilli) and “Poison” (Alice Cooper) is immediately an almost-girlfriend from when I was 15. Either “Revival” (Euthryhmics) or “Soul Man” (Sam & Dave) is Mark who I was at school with. “Unchained Melody” is another almost-girlfriend I slow-danced with to this track (which is an obvious connection, I guess). Several tracks from Avril Lavigne’s first album remind me of Al (I think, perhaps, because of a heart-felt “bl**dy Avril Lavigne” when we were discussing the social ramifications of “Sk8r Boi”). “Listen to Band” (Monkees) (which co-incidentally has just come on MP3) is one of my sisters.

“Eternal Flame” (Bangles) always brings to mind a young lady called Catherine, who randomly turned up with a friend at my 15th birthday party. I fell hopelessly head over heels in love with her at first sight, and never saw her again – but this song (newly released) captured what I was feeling. Probably a very un-original story.

“Pump up the Jam” (Technotronic) bring to mind a posse of friends from secondary school.

“Something Inside So Strong” (Labi Siffre) is a very strong link with my IC Radio contempories (for a reason I never got to the bottom of). “The Time Warp” (original, if you please, not the nonsense by Damian or anyone else) brings to mind my first girlfriend, because I went with her to the Rocky Horror Picture Show at a West End cult-cinema who’s name escapes me (which was certainly an eye-opening experience – my first experience of audience-participation cinema (and no, I didn’t dress up or take a water pistol)).

Casting the net wider, “One of us” (Joan Osborne) always makes me think of Zoe Ball, and “Here’s The Love” (Hayley Hutchinson) brings to mind Terry Wogan.

I think the connection is usually with the very first time I heard the track or heard of the singer/band, especially (but not always) if the lyrics re-inforce that connection.

Alternatively, if I have a particularly string association with a song and a event, the people who were also there come to mind. For instance, “Venus” (Bananarama) brings to mind when I worked at PGL, and “Don’t Leave Me This Way” (Communards) always reminds me of Southside Discos at university.

Curiously, while typing this, I realise that there are some songs I have previously associated with people, but I can’t remember who that person is anymore! Similarly, there are people who I’m sure I have associated songs with previously, but I can’t remember which one.

… now I’ve thought about it some more, I might have been lying about food. Wagamama always brings to mind Penguin and also Kie. Mongolian Barbeque brings to mind another ex, and Pizza Express is inextricably linked with my lovely wife in my mind. Perhaps it’s just that I listen to music far more than I go out for meals.

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