I was listening to Here & Now this morning, a news program hosted by my local NPR (National Public Radio) station, which was discussing the power of using music therapy to aid the vast numbers of elderly who suffer from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. It seems that music stimulates connections in older brains, allowing them to become more mentally active.
From the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America website:
“When used appropriately, music can shift mood, manage stress-induced agitation, stimulate positive interactions, facilitate cognitive function, and coordinate motor movements … Most people associate music with important events and a wide array of emotions. The connection can be so strong that hearing a tune long after the occurrence evokes a memory of it.”
This made me wonder, if the day should come when my short-term and/or long-term memories have all but disappeared, what song would I choose to generate memories of a happier time. Since Christmastime has held many loving, happy, and magical moments for me over the years, I tend to believe that my trigger song would be a holiday tune. However, I have so many favorites, it’s truly difficult to choose just one!
After careful thought and reflection, I believe, if there was just one song that could evoke memories of my loved ones and happier times long passed, it would be “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”. In particular, it would be the version sung by Elvis Presley.
“Music, uniquely among the arts, is both completely abstract and profoundly emotional. It has no power to represent anything particular or external, but it has a unique power to express inner states or feelings. Music can pierce the heart directly; it needs no mediation.”
— Oliver Sacks (Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain)