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Last Saturday was the ‘Last night of the Proms’, the finale to the series of classical concerts organized by the BBC at the Royal Albert hall. Another year has passed without me actually attending a performance. Every year I say I must book to go next year, but I always fail to. One of the pieces played was Vaughan William’s masterpiece The Lark Ascending. This is one of those pieces that is guaranteed to bring me out in goose-pimples. Whilst listened I realized that it is located for me on the lower slopes of Sugar loaf just outside Abergavenny. By ‘located’ I mean that whenever I hear it I am immediately taken back to a time when I was at that location.

There are loads of tunes that have their own very specific location for me. More often than not they take me back to a time and place when I had previously been listening to the music; but not always. The sugar loaf link is merely because we were once walking there whilst the skylarks were doing their vertical dances and the tune came into my head. Why a particular experience becomes the definitive location for a tune doesn’t seem to have any rhyme or reason to it. It is never the first time that I heard a piece of music, but once a tune has found its location in my mind it tends to stick, and rarely shifts to somewhere else.

Chasing cars by Snowpatrol has its location on the road between Newquay and Mawgan Porth. It is night-time and I am in the car with my wife on our way to Rick Stein’s St Petrocs bistro in Padstow.

Nimrod (another goose-pimple inducing piece): the famous one from Elgar’s Enigma variations, is located on the A3 heading northbound from Petersfield. My parents are in the car with me and we are coming back from a day on the coast which included a brief stop-off at Bognor Regis (very brief!).

Nik Kershaw’s 1984 song Wouldn’t it be Good takes me back to the mid-eighties to Malham Cove in the Yorkshire Dales. I recently visited there and the sensation works the other way, because the tune immediately popped back into my head as soon as we go to the same spot.

Malham Cove

The top of Malham Cove

Phyllis Nelson’s classic Move closer is another one linked to a car journey. This time I am in the back of my parents car. It is the middle of the night, the industrial complex at Elsmere port is on our right and we are on our way to one of our annual holidays on Anglesey.

It is strange that so many of the tunes that have their own location for me, find it to be in a car, because whenever I am on my own the radio is always tuned to BBC Radio 4, which features no music, unless you count Desert Island Discs. I’ve yet to work out the mechanism that locks a tune to a location. I’ll spare you the tedium of me listing them all, but there are so many more unmentioned.

I wonder if I’m alone in doing this? I’d love to hear if you do the same, and if so what tune is locked to what location for you?

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