Everybody knows about deja vu, and I've talked about smell ja vu before, but I thought it was time to discuss song ja vu. It's pretty obvious really, when hearing a certain song takes you back to a certain time and place. I love song ja vu, so much that I always try to create a playlist of the music that will forever remind me of a certain place.
For example, I will never hear Justin Timberlake's My Love,
without imaging Jez and Pierre choreagraphing a dance routine to take place in Old Dhaka, which included weaving in and out of rickshaws and CNGs. (Unfortunately the home made music video never made it into production)
The importance of song ja vu was something that was recognised by many of my colleagues in Pakistan, so much so that we all contributed songs to a mix cd. Someone put Lou Reed's "Perfect Day" as it had some sort of significance to their time in Islamabad.
But for me, I'll always be reminded of a party at Ingebjorg's house in Tripoli, sitting beside my dozing boss on the couch, who when this song came on, opened his eyes, raised his glass of whisky and sung along with gusto.
I've always managed to find great albums to accompany long bus rides and the one that got me through what amounted to weeks on the road between Chittagong and Dhaka was the Barenaked Ladies' "Rock Spectacle" album. I always made sure I timed it for this track to play as the bus hit the city limits.
Listening to a bit of Take That also reminded me of an important virtue to have on a 6 hour bus ride:
The bus to Beirut from Tripoli didn't take anywhere near as long as in Bangladesh, and I'll always associate Natasha Beddingfield with staring out into the Mediterranean.
When I was travelling around South America there were quite a number of lengthy bus rides, and thankfully many of the buses playing music videos played Julieta Venegas. Youtube won't let me embed this song, but I seriously recommend you go and listen to "Lento".
But what happens when you mix different worlds together? I was walking to the office in Oxford a few weeks ago and decided to put on "Good Songs from the 'bad", our Islamabad mix. Yes, I was taken back to the balcony of the Horizon Guesthouse, singing along to Gavin playing the guitar, but it all felt like a dream. It was hard to reconcile the memories I have to actually being real experiences.
I then tried it again in Guatemala, by playing Mashy Hadi my favourite song by Lebanese singer Nancy Ajram,
and instead of being weirded out, I was taken back to my Arabic dance class, where I thought the steps we were taught would be a perfect fit for the song
There is a danger to song ja vu, sometimes it's songs you just don't really like. I know I complained once or twice about the boys in Lebanon who'd drive up and down the street blaring out awful music. As such, Yassmin and I would get certain songs stuck in our heads...so this one is for her!
Along the same lines, my time in the Philippines was marred by one thing - Miley Cyrus on the radio. And when you spend at least four hours a day in the car, you can bet that you'll hear the same top 40 songs more than once. More than twice. More than enough times to drive a person mad! I won't subject you to that video (you're welcome), instead I'll leave you with one last song, that will never fail to bring a smile to my face - special shoutout to the crew still sticking it out in Pakistan!!