Talk about a powerful idea. My friend, Sam Umukoro, has a show on the radio. Naija Info FM, Saturday Mornings. All he talks about are memories. Specifically the kind of memories that music gives us– you know, how a song can come on the radio and it instantly triggers fond memories and shoots you back to a particular moment in your teenage years.
Sam’s show is called Music and Moments. So many people phone-in to that programme and I believe there’s only one reason they do. Ordinarily, listening to music activates areas of the brain in charge of “motor actions, emotions, and creativity” but jamming to a song from way back with the energy to propel you to the fondest memories of your life? That’s a whole different kettle of fish.
When it comes to the music from our younger days, we cannot help ourselves. We are hooked to them forever. And this addiction has been verified by science, too.
This study by the New York Times and that study and this other study all say we are hardwired to the hits from our childhood. They found that a certain oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine are released into our mind when we listen to music. These are the happy hormones, sort of what you get when you fall in love or get high. They say the first time we experience this feeling is around that time we first become independent of our parents and are free to choose whatever the hell we want to listen to. For most people, this is in their teens.
So, be prepared for when your kids will tell you Davido was the best musician of all time. Just smile and move on.
As for me, though, I guess I’m an outlier because the songs that hit me with the strongest emotions aren’t even from the ’90s when I was a teenager. They are from the eighties when I was in my single digit ages. So, again, I guess it’s true what they say: For every rule, there’s an exception. Maybe I’m that anomaly.
Okay. Enough about me. What about you? When are your most important songs from? Your teenage years or later? Say below.
Just so you know I’m not playing, these are 10 Nigerian songs that give me the best Flash Back Fridays. Guess what year they were made.
Merciful God, King Sunny Ade
I’ve heard those born in the ’60s say KSA’s best musical years were the ’70s but, I don’t know, I wasn’t around then. As far as I know, the King of Juju made his most groovy beats in the ’80s and early ’90s and this track right here is one of the most sticky ones.
ACE, Sir Shina Peters
This dude owned the late ’80s and early ’90s. Sexy, fast-paced music gunning to wean Nigerians off our unhealthy addition to European/American pop. I think, to a large extent, Shina Peters succeeded at his mission.
Seun Rere, Christy Essien Igbokwe
This is from way, way back that I can’t even explain why it’s so powerful for me. But it is. And science has said it’s okay. So.
Sweet Banana, King Sunny Ade
Packed with risque double entendres, this track is about what you think it’s about, obviously. But it comes at you with rolling percussions and a perfect tempo that seduces you to the dancefloor. I probably learnt my first dirty word from Sweet Banana.
Olanrewaju Kassim, King Sunny Ade
Blame my extended family for this one. You first wonder why a particular track from this album was on heavy rotation in the house then over time you hear the words more clearly and realise the panegyrics are about your hometown and how awesome your ancestors were. Then, naturally, the song becomes a favourite.
Mama & Papa, Tony Okoroji
I don’t know the words, except for the Yoruba parts, but this is a beautiful piece of music. Why? I was a big old mummy’s boy lol and I wanted to buy lace for my mother, just like Uncle Tony wanted to do for his mum.
Amebo, Blackman Akeeb Kareem
It’s a slow, and I think overstretched, song but the stories about busybodyism in it were magical for me then as a seven/eight-year-old, which was how old I was when I found the vinyl. Since it was originally released in 1982 I had to grow into it.
Tribute to Late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey
People make music to entertain us but sometimes they make music to convert us to a religion, to recruit us into a movement. This album, released after the great Chief Obafemi Awolowo died, was the first piece of art to show me how extraordinary the leader was. These days, I have no idols, except Obafemi Awolowo.
ITT, Fela Anikulapo Kuti
Fela sang about corruption and named Olusegun Obasanjo and MKO Abiola as International Thief Thief but that’s not what first pulled me in. What did it is the part about…”Long time ago, African man we no dey carry shit….” That’s a funny thing to put in a song, isn’t it? But I had no idea what the man was really talking about. Now I know and the song is a classic.