A piece of music can be an instant ticket to a place or a time.
As I get older this phenomenon – notes firing down neural pathways, the intersection of time and music and place – preoccupies me more and more.
I’ve written about it here previously and an event last week brought to mind again. We visited with family and friends in Los Angeles, a busy trip involving catch-ups, food and drink, 30c days and one or two late nights.
One of those was spent at The Orpheum Theatre, where we caught a show by Broken Bells, the band fronted by Brian Burton and The Shins‘ James Mercer (the latter of whom I’d the pleasure of meeting afterwards).
And one of their encores on the night was Citizen, a song I’d heard umpteen times since picking up the band’s 2010 debut album.
The performance led to the rebirth of the song in my head. So much so that in the week since the show, which also saw my return home, the track has soundtracked my memory of the trip.
Listening to its chorus now, as I type this, puts me directly back in the LA light, jet lagged but energised, my memories a mix of freeways, glasses, huge amber skies, food and conversation.
I probably won’t listen to Citizen again for another six months. When I do – as with another song in another California at another time – it will bring me back, quicker and truer than photos or conversation, to LA in a few days in the late October of 2014.