Of Monsters and Me: Live Music and Memory

I woke up Sunday feeling tired and cranky. Could it be because I’d had a third date the night before, during which I managed to walk nine miles through a county fair, that ended with a “thanks for indulging me!” instead of a kiss? Yeah, that could’ve been part of it. I mean, I’m not unhappy about the nine miles. I hadn’t had that kind of exercise in ages – the kind of exercise that includes deep-fried, bacon-wrapped pickles. So the prospect of going to a concert that evening – one I’d bought tickets for and had been really excited about – now just made me long for my bed.

I arrived in Hollywood and joined the line for general admission that went all around the block (what’s a three-block line when you’ve walked four miles from a tilt-a-whirl to a live sheep birth?). Once inside, joined by my friend, I got myself a gin and tonic, and we waited for the show to start. By now I was feeling marginally better.

An energy exchange

Once the main act – Of Monsters and Men – entered the stage, the energy in the room shifted, and I really woke up. My exhaustion and crankiness gave way to an electricity that seemed to enter my toes and spread through my body.

I’d forgotten how invigorating it is to see live music. It’s not just hearing favorite tunes – it’s witnessing the performers do what they love on stage. There are few instances where one can view a professional enthusiastically doing their work, live. Theater, concerts, maybe sitting at the chef’s table – these kinds of experiences are inspiring, in that they not only display both the expertise and the passion that goes into it. They also allow for the the artist to observe their work being experienced by total strangers. It’s a symbiotic exchange of energy that’s exhilarating.

Musical inspirations

I thought about how I felt so much happier enveloped by that music. I didn’t want the inspiration I felt from the concert to dissipate once I got home. Music is a lot like scent, in that it has an ability to trigger memories and feelings associated with a certain time. I knew that I could improve my mood simply by listening to some songs that brought to mind times when I felt my best and was surrounded by the people and places I loved.

Screengrab of Spotify's All Out 80s playlist

So that’s what I’m doing. I’m listening to some favorite music. Reminding myself of great times from my distant and recent past. And, by remembering what makes me happy, returning to myself.

Robyn Kern is the Tangentier. A long-time writer based in Los Angeles with a degree in screenwriting and an interest in mindfulness, many tangents led her here: a place where people can come to find and share inspiration, dwell in each others' passions, and learn how to surround themselves with what they love on the daily.


  • Meryl Lidsky Kern

    Certain songs & music have an associate pull to past times & events . I was thinking how maybe 30 yrs ago , while driving back & forth to visit with my terminally ill dear friend, I’d play a Kenny Rogers &Dolly Parton “tape” in the car. It helped me through the sadness.
    More recently, listening to High Holiday services from a synagogue using melodies remembered from childhood, I felt a strong connection to the past & the people I loved no longer here. While sad, I’m happy & grateful for the gifts of those relationships.

    • Robyn Kern

      I just found this comment in the trash! Sorry for not seeing it sooner. Are you able to listen to those country tunes now without them bringing back sad memories?

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