Ghosts of music past


I heard a well-known pop song from 2003 on the television the other night. I was watching a lifestyle programme of some kind, I can’t even remember what, but the song immediately brought a smile to my face. I tapped along.  As I recall, it came out around the time my first child was born.  I am nothing if not sentimental when it comes to songs and their ability to trigger memories.  However, this was a trigger with a difference.

You see, it was a song I have long professed to despise. I can’t really go into the reasons why I found it so immediately despicable because it requires a psychological trawl through some very dark times. Suffice it to say, it was not the song’s fault. If I’m going to be completely oblique about it, let me just say that the influences of daily life are cumulative. If we truly want to understand a human’s psyche at a given point in time, we must allow for the ability of previously existing damage – not necessarily visible on the surface – to affect a person’s present. Therefore, it is not the music itself that is necessarily the issue but associations that often have no roots in anything but the listener’s (in this case, recent) past.

There were people in my midst at the time who bore the brunt of my ire. They were good, exceptionally friendly people, who were blameless. They were just enjoying pop music, as they should have done. They did not deserve to hear about or know my sudden and irrational prejudices. I should have kept it all in. I regret every minute of it.

This song’s effect on my nerves was also cumulative; my disdain for it piled up with repeated plays – it was everywhere at the time – and so its associations grew into other prejudices and yet more irrational outbursts. It was an awful time.

The things that brought this ire to the surface were numerous, locked in, but controlled my every waking thought, even if I was as unaware of this as anyone else at that time. I have written, and will continue to write, about these influences (for influences, read “traumas”) elsewhere, and just as opaquely.  They were very personal and work-related (and, I should say, dismissed as trifling by others who went through the same things) but dealing with anything in the manner that I did is unacceptable. It’s easy to see in retrospect, it just wasn’t at the time.

Anyway, the song. It’s only a pop song. I’ve added it to a playlist, to make up for lost time. I’m not going to let it haunt me. A lot of things from that time still do but at least I can cope now.

One thought on “Ghosts of music past

  1. I know exactly what you mean about music triggering memories, like some scents do. Plus this world can give us so much pain. They need to be replaced by something more uplifting. Like something spiritual. Something positively new. Like Hope.

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