I’m not even going to pretend to understand the psychology of how music can take you back to a period in your life, but the evidence of how it helps dementia sufferers is well documented and it fascinates me.
Since moving house I’ve been sorting through some of my recorded media – over 20 years in Commercial Radio has left me with countless DATs, Minidiscs and CDs from various points in my career.
Yesterday I finally got round to opening the box of cassette tapes I’d kept and built up over the years. The analogue nature of these recordings took me even further back in my life than any of their digital counterparts could ever do. But one tape in particular transported me so vividly back to my childhood that closing my eyes made me feel I was actually there once again.
I could only be about 5 or 6 when my Parents bought me one of these Fisher Price Tape Recorders. It came with one tape with music on one side and then blank on the other side for making your own recordings.
Goodness knows what I would have recorded, probably me tormenting my younger sister and vice versa, fortunately none of these original recordings still exist!
But I grew out of my library of one cassette tape pretty quickly and at this point my Dad donated two more tapes to me. The first was Shakatak’s album Nightbirds, an album so good it went onto shape my own personal musical tastes in years to come.
The second was more of a mystery. A Sanyo Demonstration tape, which I now understand was given away with an early model walkman so you had something to play straight away when you bought it!
The tape had one instrumental track of no more than four minutes on each side – on the A side a track labelled “Hot Escort” and on the B side “Give Me The Music”. No mention of any artists, or copyright info, just these titles.
Because it was such a short tape, the moment it finished it needed to be played again, and again, and again by this excited 5 year old.
As a result, every single beat, chord progression and rhythm was indelibly etched into my brain. Once every few years for the rest of my life these tracks would worm their way out of the deepest darkest part of my memory and remind me of what it was like to 5 again. But what were those tracks? Who should be credited for occupying my brain rent-free for much of my life?
I put the tape in and pressed play, expecting a stream of brown plastic tape to go flying across the room, as happened on a previous attempt of playing a 30 year old cassette! But this one worked, and the quality was surprisingly good! Perhaps my brain was recreating the lost fidelity but I was hearing it again as my five year old’s ears did back in the 80s.
Thanks to the magic of automated track recognition I was able to learn both tracks were written by a Disco/Easy Listening group called New Sound Quartet and feature on a 1979 album called Crazy Colours released on Italy’s BAM label. I’ve no idea where “Hot Escort” or “Give Me The Music” names came from but their real names are “Bass Construction” and “Good Times”.
Of course, Youtube has a copy of the whole album! I’ve linked to the tracks below so you can now have them indelibly etched in your brain too.
But for me these tunes are more than mediocre disco/easy listening crossovers – they are a direct route back to my childhood, the nearest thing to time travel and a route to a point when my Dad was still alive and the best Dad in the world for giving me the gift of music!