Hit-making machines that inspire nostalgia invade Les Schwab Amphitheater this weekend, with the Steve Miller Band playing Friday night and Barenaked Ladies on Saturday. I didn’t interview either, but instead used Daniel Levitin’s best-selling book “This Is Your Brain On Music” as a basis for a piece on how music affects our memories and emotions. An excerpt:
Both bands evoke immediate and distinct reactions from people, not necessarily because of the way those songs are built — though a catchy melody or well-played guitar lick never hurt anyone — but because, as Levitin describes, our experiences and emotions are closely tied to the music that we hear.
That close tie can be found deep in the brain, where the hippocampus — a structure crucial to memory retrieval — sits right next to the amygdala, which Levitin describes as “the seat of emotions” in mammals. The amygdala is activated by an experience or memory with strong emotional components, and Levitin’s studies show that music activates not only that part, but the nearby hippocampus as well.
Under a relatively new group of theories known as multiple-trace memory models, “each experience we have is preserved in high fidelity in our long-term memory system” and is waiting to be unlocked by groups of neurons configured in a particular way, according to Levitin. Think of those neurons as cues for your memories.
“A song playing comprises a very specific and vivid set of memory cues,” Levitin writes. And then: “The music that you have listened to at various times in your life is cross-coded with the events of those times. That is, the music is linked to events of the time, and those events are linked to the music.”
I was pretty happy with how this turned out, and I really do hope you’ll read the whole thing by clicking here.
Bend’s own Ritchie Young and Dave Depper will bring their high-flying indie-folk band Loch Lomond to their home town Thursday to play the Tower Theatre as part of the PDXchange Program. I chatted with Young about the band, its beginnings, and its future:
Now, though, that new album is done, and Young hopes to have it out early next year. He calls it “not as folky” as Loch Lomond’s most recent full-length, “Paper The Walls,” but also “definitely not straightforward.”
It is, in Young’s words, “maybe a cross between what we were doing before and early Genesis.”
Whatever it is, the new album will come on the heels of the band’s recent tours supporting Portland mega-indie acts The Decemberists and Blitzen Trapper. Which means more people know about the band, and more people will be paying attention when it’s released.
Not that Young and his mates are going to let that kind of attention or pressure affect the way they do things.
“We don’t think of it that way. We tour a lot, and we try at every show wherever we’re at to play our best and represent the band in the best way possible,” he said. “If we wanted to explode overnight or had that expectation, it would’ve destroyed the band long ago. We really love touring, we really love each other and we just have a blast playing.
“When good things happen, we’re very excited,” Young continued, “but I think it’ll kill a band faster than anything to say, ‘This is our chance. This is the record that’s going to break.’ We’re not the biggest band in the world, but when we go out, people show up and people like the band.”
Elsewhere in this week’s music section: “Southern raconteur” Paul Thorn plays the Summer Sunday show, guitar wizard Ottmar Liebert returns to the Tower, Afro Classics fill the Domino Room with quality hip-hop, Prayers for Atheists mix rap, punk and politics and The Substitutes founder Don Hoxie holds a listening party for his new CD, plus Paula Cole, Halestorm, Blvd Park, and a big weekend at Angeline’s Bakery. And if that doesn’t quench your thirst, check out all the options in The Bulletin’s complete music listing.