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Sunday, April 21
The Indiana Daily Student

opinion

OPINION: Music is transportation

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Music has always played a massive role in my life, and I can’t remember a day without it. Throughout my childhood, my early teenage years, even when I was a baby, I was always listening to music. My life sometimes feels like it has been one big music video. With all this music comes so much emotion and memory, and for me, it’s a means of transportation. 

When I hear a song, it takes me back to the first time I heard it. Listening to “Any Way You Want It” by Journey or “Summer of ‘69” by Bryan Adams takes me back to being 7 years old and working in our basement with my dad on arcade games. I have an entire Spotify playlist titled “Older” that is filled with Train, The Script and LifeHouse among so many others, which are all songs that remind me of being a kid and driving around with my parents and sister while listening to CDs with our favorite songs.  

I tend to connect songs with specific times in my life. Sometimes the memories of these moments are so niche that I can remember exactly who I was with, what I was doing, even what I was wearing despite it being 10 years ago. The songs also help me remember the emotions I felt in those moments. 

Interestingly, there is a reason why we feel like we can transport ourselves back in time when we listen to music. Listening to music can trigger your episodic memory, which is what essentially allows you to relive a memory within your mind. So, when you hear a familiar song, often your episodic memory will kick into high gear and remind you of those memories, letting you bask once more in the good ol’ days. 

When I hear certain songs, I often get washed in waves of nostalgia, which is actually found to be a common feeling when it comes to listening to music. Music tends to trigger many strong emotions, most of which are positive ones.    

Oddly, music also makes me sentimental for times that never even were, and for times that could be the future. Music acts as a time machine for me, transporting me back but also forward, to thoughts of the future. It's like I can see my life playing out years from now, and it helps me to know what my dreams and goals in life are. “Sleep on the Floor" by the Lumineers makes me imagine taking a road trip with friends. Whenever I hear "City Rain" by John Vincent III, I daydream about living in the city with my friends after college, making cookies in our kitchen with the little money we have as we make our start in the corporate world. Music takes me to places I long to be, or moments I hope to live through, and from these momentary blasts to the future I understand myself better.  

Music also has a magical way of transporting me to places I’ve never been. "Mystery of Love" by Sufjan Stevens takes me to a winery in Italy, "This is How We Move" by Billie Marten takes me to a coffee shop in England, "Autumn Love" by Death Cab for Cutie takes me to a beautiful forest in Colorado in the autumn. It’s so easy to get lost in the feeling of the music. I reach out and let the music whisk me away, taking me wherever it does: Italy, Mexico, 20 years in the past. Some songs are like stepping into others’ stories. I can often imagine myself living through the singer’s life, feeling their emotions and experiencing their story. Listening to music makes me feel changed, like I’ve left my body and gained new experiences, without having gone anywhere. 

With listening to new songs comes new memories and new moments of nostalgia that I won’t even realize are being made until years later. I just know that my obsession with Noah Kahan right now is going to make for very nostalgic feelings of college when I revisit him in the future. The memories are never done being made. In fact, it would seem I have so many memories dormant inside me that are only really unlocked when listening to a specific song. When that song plays, that memory is relieved, and I go back in time to that moment I didn’t even remember I had lived. Music is both an awakening of the present self and a reminder of the past self.  

Whether you are an avid music listener or not, I believe we all have something to gain from listening to a favorite tune from time to time. Music is a powerful tool in feeling and remembering, and it’s often very exciting to put on a playlist and see just where the music will take you. 

Caitlyn Kulczycki is a sophomore studying media advertising with minors in psychology and creative writing. 

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