Friday, July 29, 2005

cosmic rays and memory tricks

I had a rewarding musical experience today. I guess it was a rewarding ‘memory recall’ experience also. I was at work, it was early in the morning, I got an unknown fragment of a tune in my head and had absent-mindedly begun whistling it. Then It occured to me that the fragment, was sorta wrong. What I was whistling was a distortion of some song that I liked, but that I hadn’t thought of in years. Somehow I knew that the snatch of tune I had was from an obscure song that had been briefly important to me, some 4 or 5 years since, and that at the time I’d made a mental note to try and remember it. After several attempts, I managed to straighten out the tune in my head so that I had the correct melody. I recalled the sensation, from years ago, of being struck by what a poignant melody it was, yet I still had no idea what the song was, who it was by…or even when or where exactly I’d heard it. Then doubts plagued me about whether it was a song at all, and all that foggy memory game stuff started banging around in my head. Doggedly I kept whistling the melody over and over for about 5 minutes. An intuition came to me, that it might’ve been something I’d heard on a Matador Records anthology about 4 or 5 years ago. I wrote myself a stupid note that mentioned this notion. It was like 8am in the morning and I feared that even with this note, that by the time I got home I’d have forgotten the melody. I tried a Jedi memory trick…well actually it’s a technique that a spoken word poet, whose very distinctive name I can’t presently recall (duh) explained to me one night in Shelton lea’s bookstore in Clifton Hill. And whilst on this, it further warrants a mention, that the senior trainer at Boxing For Fitness, Robbie Bryant, does a very similar memory association trick, in what has become a ritual at the start of every training session. He looks around the gym and says “Ok, and we have…Denny, John, Paul, George and Ringo, we have…etc etc” until he has said absolutely everyone in the gyms name. Even people he has just met. It’s all to do with attaching in one’s mind a physical or symbolic association with the person or thing, that acts as a trigger to recall. You have to wonder why it isn’t easier to just remember ‘Fred’ rather than something like ‘roman nose, curly grey hair, face like a donkey = Fred!’ I dunno that I fully grasp the concept… and I have well digressed--- So because I was worried about forgetting the melody that had mysteriously and randomly popped back into my head after years of being ‘lost’, I attempted my version of this memory association trick and locked in on the time of day and how silly I felt at that moment whistling the melody for the seventieth time. It worked and when I got home I put on the Matador Cd, which for the completionists among us, is called ‘Everything is Nice’ and is a ‘10th Anniversary Anthology’ of Matador Records releases, which include Pavement, Cat Power, Modest Mouse, Guided By Voices, Sleater-Kinney, Cornelius and Yo La Tengo…to name a but a few (pretty fuckin great list there huh?) So yeah, it worked ‘cause ten songs into disc one I discovered the song…a song that I had been listening to with William Bowe in 2000, ( It’s actually Billy’s cd on long-term loan to my collection!)….{ d r u m r o l l }- - - ‘Cosmic Rays’ by an American outfit called Helium.
Wow that was longwinded wasn’t it…I must be a bit fried from the three 10 hour shifts I’ve just done in a row. ;-)
Anyhow for my patient, loyal and overly interested readers the song ‘Cosmic Rays’ can be listened to at: and the story of the enigmatic singer/songwriter behind it can be explored at:
Where there are also some free mp3’s to download.

Aint the memory grand.

Listening to:

Mary Timony

1 comment:

Mike said...

Hi, I seem to be a bit lost. I thought I was getting somewhere looking for information about fitness equipment supplier and I ended up here. Well, great job on fitness equipment supplier. I have a similar interest in fitness equipment supplier. Keep up the good work.