I need to dig up a song from my memory.
September 1, 2006 1:55 PM   Subscribe

How to help myself remember the words and tune of a song I sang as a child?

When we were kids, my siblings and I had a prayer that we sang as part of our bedtime routine. I learned later that my Dad had written it. I recall that others who heard us sing it often commented on what a pretty song it was. When I was in university (1990-95) I could still recall and sing the whole thing and I remember thinking what a nice job my Dad had done in coming up with it.

But somehow since then it's disappeared. I don't remember a single word or note. I think it was 4 or 5 lines long. That's all I've got. My mother, father, brother, and sister remember less than I do. As far as I know, there's nobody else in the world (other than the five of us) who has ever sung this song.

I would like to get this song back. Anyone have some tips on how to prod my musical memory?
posted by winston to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
While you're lying in bed, getting ready to drift off to sleep, imagine that you're back in your childhood bed.

Imagine/remember the room, the position of the bed, the pattern of light and dark on the ceiling and walls. Remember your dad sitting on the bed, how it felt to lie there, the texture of his voice.

No effort, no straining after memory, just letting it come back to you.

That hypnogogic state between sleep and waking is a good time for memories. I bet if you make that visualization part of your bedtime pattern, the song will come back, either while you're lying there or in a dream.
posted by ottereroticist at 2:14 PM on September 1, 2006

Cool question. You might try to put yourself, as much as possible, into your childhood bedtime context. Try to imagine the exact routine with as much detail as you can dig up, and imagine going through the routine step-by-step in real time. Also, smells can be really strong memory triggers. If your dad used a particular aftershave or your bedsheets were washed with a perfumed detergent, getting your hands on that scent might help bring back your childhood memory.

Since you remembered the song a decade ago, as an adult, I doubt the memory is too far gone.
posted by nixxon at 2:16 PM on September 1, 2006

You haven't forgotten it. That's for sure. You've just mislaid it.
posted by unSane at 2:17 PM on September 1, 2006

Why not go to a hypnotist?
posted by AmbroseChapel at 3:22 PM on September 1, 2006

Prayers often have common themes--now I lay me down to sleep, bless mommy and daddy, etc. Can you scour a Web site or book of familiar prayers to see if your dad based his song on a prayer that was familiar to him?
posted by GaelFC at 7:34 PM on September 1, 2006

Memories route through the same brain structure that deals with smells. Come up with some smell that uncontrovertibly takes you back to that time period, sniff it, and then try to think of it.
posted by norm at 11:26 PM on September 1, 2006

Not sure if it suits your lifestyle, but, for me, marijuana has a wonderful knack for bringing back otherwise lost memories.
posted by Darth Fedor at 12:20 PM on September 19, 2006

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