Composite memories of things that didn't quite happen

I love music, and for some reason, a lot of times music will bring back memories. Likewise, sometimes remembering things in the past makes a song pop into my head. Almost always, these songs and memories are tied together in my brain, bi-directionally. Usually, the memories are tied with songs I was listening to (or had stuck in my head) when the event happened.

Does this sound weird enough yet?


  • The Starecase remix of Vega, by Paul van Dyk reminds me of a weekend spent installing a wet nitrous oxide system in my friend's car.
  • Anomaly, by Libra reminds me of my first attempts at programming Lego Mindstorms with the NQC framework.
  • Save Yourself by Stabbing Westward reminds me of scavenging at Hobby Lobby on a cloudy saturday for materials to finish the final project of B&W Photography class in college.
  • Nine Inch Nails' cover of Joy Division's Dead Souls reminds me of countless hours spent browsing Silicon Toad's ancient treasure trove, The Infinity Void. (+5 Hacker Points to anyone who can tell me the connection there)

So, I offer up a perplexing conundum that's been bothering me for a few months now. One song conjures up a composite memory. Not two memories. A composite one -- a brain indexing clusterfuck. A lie, for all intents and purposes. A memory I can see in my mind's eye as clear as day, just as if it happened, but it couldn't have.

I got my very first digital audio player for Christmas in 1998. Eager to try it out, I uploaded a few songs to it as soon as I got it out of the package. I just grabbed whatever I had, but I remember the first song I played through it was "The Way U Like It" by Frankie Bones.

Now that song brings back memories of listening to my music player while being an apprentice to my grandfather.

Details so real -- the scent of lunch: Campbell's ramen noodles (a favorite of mine back in the day, I can't find them now), I'm twiddling some frob on the desk in the kitchen's dining area, near the central control for the house-wide intercom and AM/FM Radio system that my grandmother used to page us with when it was time to eat. A bright day -- I saw the cardinal outside that my grandma named "DumDum" because he'd run into the storm door repeatedly each morning. And, of course, Frankie Bones at full blast on the head cans plugged into my new portable music player. My brain thinks this was all real -- all happening together as one event.

  • I apprenticed with my grandfather for half a year in 1995.
  • My grandfather died in January of 1997.
  • I got the audio player in December of 1998.
  • The Way U Like It was debuted as a track on 12" Vinyl in the UK: August 9, 1999.
I've heard that dreams are mostly comprised of things we've seen in the past and assemble in our asleep imagination. Is it that kind of composition that leads to waking anomalies such as this one -- so real and vivid yet so blatently impossible? Am I the only one?

  • It's possible that I got the date wrong on the audio player. It was released to market before Christmas of 1998, but it's possible that I got it in 1999. I definitely got it for Christmas (or did I?! Mom? Dad? Help a guy out here! Do you still have the reciept for that thing?!) If I got it in '99, the song was already out and I'd probably already come across it by Christmas. That still doesn't explain the other discrepancies.
  • My grandmother lived at the house several years after grandpa died. It's possible I was listening to that song on that music player at my grandparents' house, sometime after the song was released. In this case, I wasn't apprenticing with my grandpa, and it certainly wasn't the first song I copied to the music player.
  • I have a history of epilepsy -- that could possibly be part of the composite memory debacle.
I can't think of any other anomalies like this one, though, where something just doesn't add up. It could be because there aren't any other composite memories, or it could be that the ones I have aren't so easily questioned. Don't ask my brain to differentiate between them. It still thinks the memory is real.

I'm not sure what point I was hoping to make with this one, other than wondering how much of what we remember really happened as we recall, and how much of it is a jumbled mess of things that actually happened, just not in the way we remember.