Sunday, November 18, 2012

Memory fail

One of my songs was running through my head the other day. But I hadn't practiced it in forever, and big chunks of the lyrics were missing. Even when I made an effort to recall them, they continued to hide.

No biggie. This happens to me from time to time. I made a mental note to look the song up later.

The surprise came when I got around to doing it. As I read my forgotten lyrics, there was no sense of recognition. No "Oh, of course, that's how it goes." It was like seeing them for the first time. As if somebody else wrote them.

Maybe this kind of thing is inevitable after you've produced a certain number of songs. Trying to console me about my failing memory, a friend of mine said that she used to work for a magazine where not every story got a byline. She and her colleagues frequently couldn't remember which of them had written a particular article.

Still, it feels weird. I'm not one of those songwriters who can create an entire first draft in my car on the way to the bank. I struggle for almost every line. If I have to fight so hard to bring the words into existence, they ought to stick around without any further effort on my part.

Oh well. One good thing came out of my little memory fail: I realized that I hadn't backed up my lyrics since many new songs ago. Now if my hard drive fails, I won't lose any of the words forever.


Brian McDonald said...

Chances are, if you were to noodle around with the song for long enough, you'd recall the lyrics. Memory isn't quite so binary as "it's there/it's gone". That said, backing up your lyrics was probably a good idea. :)

cinderkeys said...

We'll never know, because I didn't bother noodling. But the fact that memory isn't binary is why it's startling when it just seems to be *gone*. Usually I get at least a lingering trace of something ... or possibly a construct that fools me into believing it's a real memory.

"Make backups" is the moral of so many stories.