Memory is a strange thing

In the category of the power of memory…

I just picked up a copy of a guilty pleasure from Second Spin on the cheap: Electric Youth by Debbie Gibson. I was getting ready to rip it just a few minutes ago, and something really weird happened. My eyes rested on the title of the opening track (”Who Loves Ya Baby?”), and in the space of about 2 seconds, my mind went from the title to a mental sound clip of the chorus to the smell of the ink used to print the liner notes for my old cassette copy (which was stolen along with the rest of my collection over 13 years ago).

I’ve heard before that smell is the sense most strongly tied to memory, but I’ve never had it go “backwards” like that before. For whatever reason, that tape’s liner notes had a strong and distinct scent that none of my other tapes had, so I smelled it every time I opened up the case (which was REALLY often about 8th or 9th grade or so). I guess the association in my brain was stronger than I thought. :)

4 thoughts on “Memory is a strange thing

  1. Smell is probably one of my strongest senses in that department. I find myself remembering things seemingly long forgotten at the most random times all because of some scent I caught. It’s the strangest thing.

  2. I find myself remembering things seemingly long forgotten at the most random times all because of some scent I caught.

    Sure. That has happened to me plenty of times, and it is weird just how powerful those memories are. However, this is the first time it’s happened the other way around: an experience triggering a memory of a scent. It was such a strong memory, it was almost as if I was really smelling it.

  3. funny — as soon as I was reading that, I suddenly found myself remembering / smelling the liner from some of my old tapes, too! I don’t *think* it was a Debbie Gibson tape (I think I borrowed my friend’s copy), but I definitely had a tape or two that had a strange, never-before-or-since-smelled odor about them. Although I can’t remember which specific tape it was — it was in a clear case (not one of the ones with the black back), and the joint was really loose, so it always flopped open.

    memory IS a curious thing . . .

  4. it was in a clear case (not one of the ones with the black back)

    Yep. That was actually not the norm at the time, I think. It probably has a lot more to do with when it was published and by which record company than with the artist. Atlantic Records handled Gibson back then, so I wonder if most of their mid-80’s liner notes were like that.

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