Not too long ago  I was thinking and pondering of the songs I wanted for my funeral, and in recent weeks I have remembered that there is another song I would like to add to the list, a spare piano ballad named “Remember Me” by the band Augustana, off of their/his underrated album “Life Imitates Life”. The song itself is a reflective song, as are many of the songs I enjoy, and my own appreciation of the song puts it in a rather complicated place as I often reflect upon issues of memory, both in what I remember about other people and what other people remember about me. For a variety of reasons, the question of memory  has been one of continual importance in my life. Whether I reflect upon the imperfections of memory, on the way that trauma looms large in memory, or in the fact that history depends on memory, or upon the desire shared by me and many others to be remembered, hopefully for good, the many aspects of memory have long been vital in shaping my own life and in the way I look at the world around me.
In this light, it is unsurprising that so many songs should be concerned about memory as well. Also, unsurprisingly I happen to be greatly fond of many of them. Whether Sarah McGlachlan is singing “I Will Remember You” in the Brothers McMillan soundtrack, or Amy Grant is singing a different song of the same title, or whether some Cats are reflecting on “Memory,” or former Beatle Paul McCartney is reflecting about his “Memory Almost Full,” or Tim McGraw is telling a former love to please remember him, by and large songs that deal with memory happen to be among those I particularly enjoy. Someone who focuses on memory and reflects on it to the extent that I do is generally going to find it worthwhile to reflect upon the memories of others and their own reflections. It should be expected that those who wrestle with memory and wanting to remember and to be remembered will find much in common to appreciate and respect. There are some longings that are essentially competitive, but memory is not one of those. Memory is such that remembering some things can greatly help one remember other things that are related to it.
Let us return, for example, to the aforementioned band Augustana. This Adult Alternative act of the early 2000’s and beyond is remembered largely, when they are remembered at all, for their massively overplayed song “Boston.” As someone who has at least a bit of hipster cred, I suppose, I am fond of the rest of their music, from the weary resignation of “Stars And Boulevards” to the grim and morbid reflectiveness of “Hey Now” to the odd and quirky wordsmithing of “Ash And Ember .” After some band drama and the lead singer struggling with some personal issues, the project is more or less a one-man show and no longer a band. Through the years the music has become more and more simple and the lyrics more and more complicated. It’s not necessarily a bad trade-off given the context. As Augustana is considered a one-hit wonder, it is little surprise that I am fond of them given my fondness in general for one-hit wonders as a whole.
Nor are they the only one-hit wonder group that I listen to often. Watching a video about the music of 1991, I was led to look up a song I had vaguely remembered, “The One And Only,” by a British one hit wonder with the improbable name of Chesney Hawkes. Now, for those who are not familiar with the song or its history, it comes from the soundtrack to the 1991 film “Buddy’s Song,” and it also appeared on the soundtrack to “Doc Hollywood,” which led it to hit #1 on the British charts and #10 on the US pop charts. Hawkes would only get one more UK top 40 with “I’m A Man Not A Boy” and would never appear again on the US charts, but the song itself holds up remarkably well as a catchy piece of pop glory that is well worth remembering. To make the story even better, the song was written by another British one hit wonder, Nik Kershaw, whose “Wouldn’t It Be Good” is one of my favorite songs of the 1980’s and who has had a very accomplished career as a songwriter of reflective songs, of which “The One And Only” is a driving song of self-dignity, of the kind that I regularly appreciate.
As it happens, my memory is something that people rely upon very often. I am not sure whether to be amused or irritated by this. Mostly I am puzzled by it. Earlier today, for example, I was asked if there were any services on the day portion of Passover at all in our church, and I said that there was not, a bit confused that someone would think that, and I reminded him about the Night To Be Much Observed tonight. I plan on spending the evening with some friends, hopefully surrounded by friendly conversation while I sit in my usual lefty corner of the table, and the person who asked me about church services today said he was making a lentil salad for a large get-together, something which sounded very tasty. I often wonder if my memory and other related intellectual skills is responsible for a great deal of the favor I have seen occasionally from others, as I don’t think I would make it very far on my charm or good looks.
 See, for example: