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Arts & Culture

Essay: Finding the Power of Memory in Music

Rob Donnelly, Milwaukee Magazine

It was the last warm day of the year. My parents and I had just spent the afternoon with relatives, walking around an arboretum near Naperville, enjoying the weather. Now we were in the car, returning to my folks’ house in Racine.

It had been a full day, and the conversation began to die down as we reached the Illinois-Wisconsin border. My mom was driving, as she typically prefers to do. My dad was in the backseat, on the verge of one of his famous “s’naps” – my dad is known as a “super napper” because he can fall asleep in any position for two minutes, then wake up fully rejuvenated.

Traveling north on I-94, gazing at the pastel autumn sunset, I connected my phone to the car’s Bluetooth and scrolled through my iTunes library to find something to play. Most of the music on my recent playlists didn’t fit the mood, so I opened Apple Music and searched for songs that all three of us would enjoy. I started with “Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman, a family favorite. Seconds into the first verse, we were all singing along.

This essay appeared in the February 2018 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.  Read it in full here.