For the past few months I’ve been increasingly aware of the ipod in my brain. At any given time an obscure song from the past whispers, clangs or rocks the sidewalls of my skull. For years, whenever I was anxious I found myself humming Christmas tunes. A sort of audio version of grinding my teeth. Instead of being self-soothing, the audible “Silent Night” or “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” was prelude to catapulting into a state of ill temper.
Not so when my playlist includes some obscure ballad from days of yore, such as “Billy, Don’t be a Hero,” or “The Night they Drove Old Dixie Down.” I find myself eager to whistle along or worse, belt out the occasional refrain with abandon. Maybe it’s the secularity of the tunes that eases me into this fuzzy state of goofiness. Maybe it’s a sort of memory lane wonderland divorced from the actual hell I must have been experiencing (given that the target date of most of these bubble-ups is smack in the middle of adolescence) at the time.
I like the notion that this braintrust exists, whatever the source. It gives me hope that somewhere in the archives I can pull up the German I knew fluently at age five, or maybe I can retrain myself to skateboard with proficiency once again. Right now? My storage system is serenading me with “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”