Music through the decades


If music be the food of love, play on….

Shakespeare (Twelfth Night)

Music means so much to so many people.  Whether it is through iPods, smart phones, CD’s, radios or vinyls people can listen to music from sun up to sun down and from birth to as they pass from this life.  Music has been identified as contributing to autobiographical memories which enables us to make judgements about ourselves and others1. A link has been identified between working memory for musical stimuli and for verbal stimuli which led to the conclusion that the process of learning music improves the learning of verbal tasks1.

Because emotions enhance memory processes and music evokes strong emotions, music could be involved in forming memories, either about pieces of music or about episodes and information associated with particular music. A recent study in BMC Neuroscience has given new insights into the role of emotion in musical memory.

Music which has meaning that we have heard at pivotal moments of our lives creates an emotional connection which enhances the memory for these musical pieces1. Physiological responses to music have been identified such as increased blood flow to brain areas controlling emotion and increased brain activity in many other areas including the peripheral nervous system1. Studies have shown listening to music improved cognitive function recovery after a stroke as well as prevent negative effects such as depression and confusion2.  Music & Memory® is an American non-profit organisation which uses technology to bring personalised music into the lives of residents with amazing results3. It has moved to Australia4 and ABC Catalyst program did a segment on Music & Memory’s positive impact on people living with dementia5.

See below for snippets of songs about memories from each decade from 1900’s to 2010’s. Do you recognise any of them?!

Music Memories through the decades

Elvis Presley 1968 (60’s) Memories

Memories, pressed between the pages of my mind
Memories, sweetened through the ages just like wine
Quiet thought come floating down
And settle softly to the ground….

Barbara Streisand 1974 (70’s) The Way We Were

Memories light the corners of my mind
Misty water-colored memories of the way we were
Scattered pictures of the smiles we left behind
Smiles we gave to one another for the way we were…


Skid Row 1989 (80’s) I Remember You


Remember yesterday, walking hand in hand
Love letters in the sand, I remember you
Through the sleepless nights through every endless day
I'd want to hear you say, I remember you…


Boys 11 Men 1991 (90’s) It’s so Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday

I don't know where this road is gonna lead to.
All I know is where we've been and what we've been through.
If it gets me to tomorrow, I hope it's worth all the pain.
It's so hard to say goodbye to yesterday.

And I'll take with me the memories to be my sunshine after the rain.
It's so hard to say goodbye to yesterday….


Alan Jackson 2003 (2000’s) Remember When

Remember when

Remember when thirty seemed so old
Now lookin' back, it's just a steppin' stone
To where we are, where we've been
Said we'd do it all again
Remember when….


Macklemore 2017 (2010’s) Good Old Days

We've come so far, I guess I'm proud
And I ain't worried about the wrinkles around my smile
I've got some scars, I've been around
I've felt some pain, I've seen some things, but I'm here now
Those good old days

You don't know, what you've got
Till it goes, till it's gone…

Here’s an oldie from 1869!!!!  Written by Henry Tucker, I give you….:

Oh Genevieve, sweet Genevieve

The days may come, the days may go

But still the hand of memory weaves

The blissful dreams of long ago…

Louis Armstrong 1909 (10’s) Memphis Blues

That melancholy strain that ever haunting refrain
Is like a morning sorrow song
Here comes the very part that wraps a spell around my heart
It sets me wild to hear that loving tune again, those Memphis Blues


Henry Burr/Alex Campbell 1919 (10’s) Until We Meet Again

Smile the while you kiss me sad adieu,

When the clouds roll by I'll come to you,

Then the skies will seem more blue,

Down in lovers lane my dearie,

Wedding bells will ring so merrily,

Every tear will be a memory,

So wait and pray each night for me,

Till we meet again.


Irving Berlin/Ruth Etting 1927 (20’s) The Song is Ended

The song is ended
But the melody lingers on
You and the song are gone
But the melody lingers on

Artie Shaw 1938 (30’s) Begin the Beguine

When they begin the beguine
It brings back the sound of music so tender
It brings back a night of tropical splendor
It brings back a memory ever green


Doris Day 1945 (40’s) A Sentimental Journey

Gonna take a sentimental journey
Gonna set my heart at ease
Gonna make a sentimental journey
To renew old memories


Dean Martin 1955 (50’s) Memories Are Made of This

The sweet sweet memories you gave-a me
You can't beat the memories you gave-a me
Take one fresh and tender kiss
Add one stolen night of bliss
One girl, one boy some grief, some joy…..



1.       Jäncke L. Music, memory and emotion. Journal of biology. 2008 Jun;7(6):21.

2.       Särkämö T, Tervaniemi M, Laitinen S, Forsblom A, Soinila S, Mikkonen M, Autti T, Silvennoinen HM, Erkkilä J, Laine M, Peretz I. Music listening enhances cognitive recovery and mood after middle cerebral artery stroke. Brain. 2008 Feb 20;131(3):866-76.




KnowledgeAmy Bosnar