Musical Memory Triggers

June 29, 2011

When I moved to Italy, I immediately started trolling CD stores and watching MTV Italia with pen in hand, digging into Italian music to find the good stuff. There’s nothing like having a few songs you love in another language to work said language into your brain. Subsonica, Tiromancino, Mau Mau and 99 Posse were a few of my favorite finds.

With my sights now set on Argentina, I’ve begun to do recon on spanish music. A friend recommended Andres Calamara, and when I came across a song called “Flaca,” a long unused synapse burst in my brain and brought up a song I’d loved in while living in Florence, called “La Flaca.” A few keystrokes later I had the video to the song – I love you, internet.

Jarabe de Palo means “syrup of the stick,” according to what an Italian friend told me 10 years ago. I have no idea if that’s true, but I like that I remember it.

Here’s another song of his that I sang a few hundred times while living in Florence:

I haven’t heard either of these songs in a good 5+ years. It’s incredible how a song can enable time traveling – I close my eyes and listen to either of these and I’m back in 2000, 21 years old, blissfully living the dream in Italy, studying art, drunkenly puttering over cobblestones on the back of my Italian boyfriend’s motorino, wearing the knee-high leather boots I’d bought in Sienna, my arms wrapped around him and my eyes squeezed shut for fear of dying in post-soccer-match traffic (when the cops pull us over because he’s given me his only helmet, he says, “But my girlfriend’s American!”, and the polizia let us continue on our way). I love that that world continues on in my mind, and all I need to do to trigger it is come across some old song.

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4 Responses to “Musical Memory Triggers”

  1. mikey said

    i feel ya! just heard a particular Ben Harper song that flashed me back to 1997, so amazing how you can transport your mind to that very time and place!

    • lunasealife said

      Totally amazing!!! : D
      Argh I just realize we didn’t hike this morning! How about tomorrow morning? I’ll be house sitting in Silverlake again!

  2. D said

    I used to listen to this group, too, & had never really thought about what the name meant even though I knew the meaning of the words.

    I just looked it up & found this on wikipedia… Makes complete sense. I don’t know what I never figured this out.

    Jarabe is a syrup, and is usually used when talking about medicine (cough syrup is jarabe de tos). Palo is a stick. The expression means to “cure” someone by giving them a beating – e.g. saying that a child who is acting up needs jarabe de palo.

    Though “Jarabe de Palo” is a neutral phrase in Spain, it has an obscene connotation in parts of Latin America (referring to semen).

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