Association with an Image

I woke up this morning with the lyrics to Helmet's "Unsung" in my head. At first, I couldn't place it -- images and lyrics are sometimes like a repository for past memories. Listening to a record album can remind you that it once served as a soundtrack for a whole summer, reading a novel can lead to memories of one summer, for example, recalling an afternoon shortly after you turned sixteen, watching an old tv show can dish up old memories of distant relatives you haven't seen for years.

Like dreams, sensory experiences often dredge up the past, reminders of forgotten friends or people that were not thought of in a decade, the color of the wallpaper at your grandmother's house, or other small instances lost forever in the memory banks.

Song snippets and lyrics are especially prime vehicles of uncommon remembrance, at least for me. Periods of my life are categorized through soundtracks. I sometimes can even tell you what I was listening to during a particular month because of what I immersed myself in over and over again. Some songs bring back painful memories, while others joyful ones. The most interesting rely on forgotten memories or long stretches of summer afternoons that have receded into time.

Helmet's "Unsung" is one of these. I can trace it to different moments of my life. Strange high school excursions with people I haven't talked to for years, long talks with my best friends in recent weeks, the clicking of a broken vacuum cleaner when I lived at Lost House in Stevens Point in 2001. When I heard the lyrics this morning, something clicked and I couldn't stop focusing on the correlations between association and memory. Funny how, the lyric matched the ideas that have been drifting through my head. While the rest of the song doesn't match this conception of forgotten remembrance, the narrator's assertion that their subject would never want to die unknown or young is perhaps a plea to anyone listening. None of us really wants to go out like that. Even in dreams and daily association, we look for recognition and try to find patterns that will give our life some permance, or allow us to find meaning.


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