Updated: Nov 2, 2020
I was recently talking to a friend about how music has the power to take us back in time. A song from your childhood, or your teenage years, college years, and on and on, can allow you to relive certain moments of significance. In fact, I still come across songs that I had forgotten about but as soon as they play on the radio, or I hear them somewhere unexpected, I am transported. I had a set of songs that I had heard while living in France and Germany that I had filed away in my mind. I had put them onto CDs that I took back with me to the US. Eventually they made their way into Apple tunes, and when they come up on the shuffle rotation, the effect is a vivid picture and quickening of my pulse as I'm suddenly younger, still seeing so much of the world with fresh eyes.
Music has the power to transport, and it can make a good experiences rise to the level of great. I appreciate tours that have some sort of musical element in them. For example, I started adding a soundtrack to my Harlem Renaissance in DC tour. It features songs of the artists that I introduce them to on the tour such as Duke Ellington, Pearl Bailey and the ever wondrous Billie Holiday. There's something amazing about walking down the former Black Broadway with the music of that era floating through the air.
Nostalgia has power, and music is great for taking you back in time. When "Lady" by Modjo comes on, I'm on the Rafiot boat club dancing with my friend Laurent, drinking Deperados, and still taking in the fact that the world is so much bigger than Redlands, California. "Kite" by U2 takes me into the tram in Heidelberg, Germany, on my way to classes at the Max Weber house. "Isyan" by Seni Beklerken was an anthem on resistance while I was teaching English in Istanbul during the coup attempt. "Shake Body" by Skales was the top hit while I was serving at the US Embassy in Brazzaville, and was constantly playing at the small gym in one of our compounds. The list is much longer than this, but I think you get the idea.
Traveling offers so many opportunities to gather memories attached to music. When those moments happen they are locked into my brain. For that I am grateful because, for those special times like now, when all I want is to be in the sun and on one of my best vacations ever, all I have to do is put on "Danza Kuduro" and I'm back in the Dominican Republic next to the hotel pool shaking my body with the Animation Team. You just had to be there.