Rick Houser:
From the brain to the record

Have you ever been driving down the road with the radio on and all of a sudden a certain song from your youth begins to be played? As soon as you hear it a thought comes into your mind along with a visual of a time and place in your life where you were doing something and that song was playing then? I feel very certain I am not alone in this amazing sequence of flashback. There is even a program that has been created where a person can have many of their songs loaded onto an I pod type device and the songs are played over a head set for people where their minds are beginning to fail them.

Rick Houser

For some reason and I’m sure scientists have a long name for it that I would never be able to recall as to how music and our minds sync on certain songs. I feel so safe in saying we all have experienced this more than once. We go through our lives day after day and each day we encounter things differently each day. As the days and years and decades add up the brain has stored more data than we can ever imagine. So when a certain song is heard the brain rolls through all that is stored and connects you to the song by a visual of an event. Truly amazing if we take the time to think about it.

I know that when I for instance hear “Summer in the City “ by the Lovin’ Spoonful I instantly see me as a sixteen year old on a Friday night in the summer behind the wheel of my bright red 1963 Ford Galaxie going up Fruit Ridge Road on my way to Felicity. I can see I am in my best parsley shirt and my blue bell bottom pants. I’m all slicked up and after a long week on the farm I am headed to hopefully a hot time in the city. I see it just as plain as the moment it happened. Now I ask you. Isn’t that amazing?

My wife says when she hears Glen Campbell singing “Wichita Lineman she sees herself with friends cruising in her dads 1967 Chevrolet Chevelle. (It was one awesome looking car I must say!) As she was telling me this I could see she was seeing it right then. It is one of the miracles the good lord has blessed us with as far as I am concerned. I mean it might not be so hard to put an event with a certain song but add the third factor of seeing it again and it doesn’t matter how many times you have heard it or will hear it the phenomenon never fails to deliver to a person what they are about to receive.

I see myself in the greasy spoon across the street from school standing in front of the juke box listening to the Beatles sing “No Where Man” as I am trying my hardest to memorize the words. Yes I liked that song for sure. The Beach Boys singing ‘Barbara Ann” immediately returned me to our tobacco stripping room where my friend Charlie had just turned up the volume to hear the song as that was his girls name. (Must remind you that my dad really didn’t like it loud but he would only smile at Charlie as he knew the reason.)

We all have a list of special songs connected to special events and times. Some are huge events but most are smaller but woven into the fiber of who we are and how we got to where we are today. I guess we don’t really need a photo album as our most valued memories are and always have been right with us. Yes they rest right between our ears and from time to time we pull them down and relive them for a moment or two.

From a tobacco barn as I was leaving high school and entering the adult world was “The Letter” by the Box Tops as my entire crew was screaming the lyrics as they knew the words by heart. My wife and I both have flashback on the Beach boys ‘Sloop John B.” She for a good time with friends and cruising I think. As for me I see my big brother Ben the summer I graduated from school. He was living at home then and when he was going out on a Saturday night he had a paisley shirt and a burnt orange pair of pants that he would always wear when he was headed out for the night he would be singing to his self that song. It is just a picture of my brother in a way I will always want to see him in. I thought he was cool.

But in my latter years I had a cousin give me a DVD of family photographs he put to music. The first song was “In My Life”

by the Beatles. The song ties so well with the subject matter and the photos I can’t not hear that song and not think of my family from the past on up and into today. To me that is a powerful song to recall and add a video to. I guarantee you it will never be forgotten.

I have no idea how many songs have been recorded nor am I going to attempt it but it is safe to say there are enough for us all to have our fair share of tunes and enter our memory and have barley scratched the surface. But we do and there isn’t a thing wrong with that either. All I have talked about has been done by our brains and guess what? We never even knew it happened. The human brain is what separates us from all the other animals in my opinion. The human has so much that is special about them but there is nothing to compare to this item.

They say music soothes the savage beast. I don’t really think we are beasts but if they want to call me that so I can have the privilege to hear my music then call me a savage beast. But be darn certain I get to replay as much as I want!

Rick Houser grew up on a farm near Moscow in Clermont County and loves to share stories about his youth and other topics. He may be reached at houser734@yahoo.com.