This is how our brains worked. When we experience something significant emotionally and a piece of music happens to play at the same time of that experience, the music would become deeply ingrained into our brains like reinforcement. The first compounded by our emotionally significant experience. It happened to me once.
In late 2013, a large group of my ex school mates had a gathering. I attended the gathering while still jet lagged from my US return flight so I rested my head on the table with my eyes opened. Another pair of wide eyes came into my field of vision suddenly, just inches away. In a split second, Lee Hom’s Forever First Day played in my mind. That pair of eyes looked like the eyes of my ex-boyfriend whom I had just ditched. Seconds later, I realized that was actually Yi Hoong staring back at me.
I did not want to reconcile with my ex-boyfriend. I was just too used to him being present in my life for almost two years.
I had no special liking for Lee Hom’s Forever First Day. It was included into the first album of his that I bought. It used to automatically play as the soundtrack loop continuously during the day. I was 15 years old when a friend introduced me to Wang Lee Hom’s music. My aunt Ivy had just died that year and my extended family tore apart over her estate. I was broken hearted. Forever First Day had a nostalgic tune both in the music and the singer’s voice. I missed happier times when aunt Ivy was alive and healthy. Forever First Day evoked emotional solitude.
Although my ex-boyfriend and I were dissimilar and I could not live with his anger issues, he was not entirely a bad suitor. Having being raised by a hostile Hakka mother myself, I did not get much physical embrace and comfort. My ex-boyfriend made that up for me.
The part of our brain which records emotional memory is called the Amygdala located at the limbic system, deep beneath the cortex. Goes to show how impactful, meaningful music can be.