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I close my eyes as the first notes of the song come through my headphones. “Me and my friends, we’re all misunderstood. They say we stand for nothing but there’s no way we ever could…”

John Mayer’s Waiting on the World to Change –  the song my nephew had to have playing at bed time as a young boy. It played on repeat for hours of his life.

The melody, the sounds, the movement of the music take me back 15 years. I picture my sister as a mom to toddlers, my mother as a grand mother and my little nephew who knew that song spoke to him. He enjoyed age appropriate music as well (hello, Wiggles!) but this was his song.

The twang of a guitar chord in almost any old country song – Merle Haggard, Hank Williams Senior, or Waylon Jennings  – brings memories of my dad and his truck rushing back.

Easy Listening was Mom’s style.  My sister called it butterfly music.  For most of my teenage years, she listened to a local radio station in the evening.  I realize now that this was her down time.  Every night at ten o’clock, the host would sign off the same way.  “This is Bill.  I leave you chasing a dream.”  The beautiful instrumental song by Hagood Hardy would then play.

I can still picture Mom in the living room.  She would sit on the carpeted floor and flip through the newspaper that was stretched out in front of her, her music playing in the background.  After she died, I reached out to the music director of the now defunct station.  We put the pieces together and I was able to track down the song online.  Every time I hear the comforting, floating notes I think of her.  I call it her soul music.

The Lady in Red takes me back to my high school prom, and the drama of not having a date.  Neil Diamond’s All I Really Need is You to my first dance with my husband at our wedding twenty years ago, surrounded by the love of family and friends.

Music is a powerful force that can instantly take us back to specific moments in our lives.  It gives us the gift of remembering people and places or reliving moments and emotions – sometimes when we least expect it.