May 26

Writing A Memoir And Finding Memories In Music

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When writing a memoir there are so many ways to find inspiration. The question for me is never what is the point of recording all of my random memories. It’s always let’s get the memories out and enjoy the process. You can work out where they fit later.

Music is a wonderful way to evoke memories for your memoir, whether that is using music to stimulate or calm you or the piece brings a memory back.

When I am writing, my environment is key. I like silence. I also like writing in bed or on the terrace where I can gaze at the hills. Well, it would be peaceful if the furry ones didn’t bark at things…

There have been times when I have needed or wanted music and I find that these are usually deeply emotional times. The call for music arises and I need for some reason to lose myself in the words. I can often be found crying or at least feeling like crying. I love a film with great music and a happy ending so stories of all kinds get me – every time.

The journey from music to memoir

Music has the power to take you on amazing trips, along lanes, roads, highways and byways to destinations once lived and now forgotten.

As a child, I recall sitting in class and my teacher played music from the Grand Canyon Suite, in the far right corner of the room were pictures of the Grand Canyon and we were invited to write stories about what we saw, felt and heard. I don’t know what I wrote, but in that moment I was lost and it became a dream to visit this wondrous place.

One Christmas we went to Las Vegas for a relative’s 60th birthday and on Christmas Day I flew over the Grand Canyon in an epic and exhilarating helicopter flight with music blaring.

The music this time was more rock than classic all designed to fire up our emotions and connect us to the movement of the helicopter, the vast ocean of red rock, floors of bobbly green brush and striated skies of turquoise and pale blue.

It was exhilarating and this scared of flying gal begged the pilot to go faster, such was the power of the music.

If I was including this in a memoir, it would probably be cited as an exhilarating but personally hurtful time for me. The person I was with did something I consider to be cruel, but as it turns out a blessing.

When you write a memoir how can you weave in moments like this while staying with the essence of your story? These could be backstory elements that provide your reader with insight into how your story was formed. It might be that you describe the effect the music has on you in the moment.

A journey with your music memoir

All of us have multi-faceted lives with many crisscrossing journeys. When I recall my party days there’s a sadness that the music hides. When I refer to someone’s sex, drug and rock and roll days, I’m normally talking about those days when we felt less connected to who we are. The party and the music helped me to lose myself and hide from reality.

I had the most gorgeous friend and DJ Leroy, who would play my favourite songs – he would know, it was always Wonderland first, then during the night Whole Lotta Rosie, Come Up and See Me and Carwash. Each of these were my dancing songs. I’d be up on the dance floor, with or without a partner.

Sadly Leroy didn’t want to stay on Earth.

At his funeral, which was dreadfully sad they played Imagine. In my memory, he is forever in Wonderland listening to Imagine. I cannot listen to either of those without tears in my eyes.

Silly songs like Haircut One Hundred – Fantastic day remind me of my first husband. He thought it was hilarious to come back into the bedroom to find me lying in bed still but somehow dancing to this.

Even long after I listened endlessly to Elbow, most days I throw the curtains wide whilst singing

“So throw those curtains wide
One day like this a year would see me right
Throw those curtains wide
One day like this a year would see me right”

Stairway To Heaven is a song I hear when I ask spirit for guidance. And Nirvana is my I don’t care music. And I could go on, there is so much music in my memory. It really does take me to those places and those times.

Making new memories for memoirs to come

A couple of years ago I took my mum to see a Dire Straits tribute band. A group of Spanish singers created an incredible evocative scene with haunting notes that had us transfixed for over 2 hours.

I had been taking my mum to concerts for just a few years. I wanted to create memories for us both. I want to etch these precious moments and experiences deep into my heart.

This was our last concert, she is still with me but finds it uncomfortable now to head to auditoriums and the like.

Bring the present and past together

As the Dire Straights tribute played I closed my eyes and was back at the NEC in Birmingham seeing the real band for the first time. It was a time when not a week went by when I wasn’t at a concert or planning to go and see a band. Music was a massive part of my life.

Like all of us, I am getting older and my desire to follow bands around went a long time ago and that makes me feel that sometimes I am missing something. But I am? I have been lucky enough to see some incredible musicians.

When I trace the disappearance of music from my life, I can see how it had been stolen and switched off by another. It was such a shame. I was wooed by an apparent rock fiend who turned out to be more of a pipe and slippers bore.

That’s what music does. It reminds you of so many things.

If you are looking for inspiration for your memoir or want to be taken back to another time period in whatever book you are writing, compile a playlist, get up and dance, scribble down whatever words come into your head, have fun, laugh, cry, scream,  but most of all capture what it was like to be you then.  Please do share your golden musical memories with us.

Be inspired, have a beautiful day and capture your memories.


Tags

memoir, writing memoir


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