The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator


The Effects of Dad Rock
Photo by Marisa Valdez

Even as I grew up and began developing a more diverse music taste, the “dad rock” genre has consistently been in my life in the form of Spotify playlists, my family’s shared iPod and my dad’s hundreds of old CDs. But why? 

Why does music have such a profound impact on our lives? According to researchers, there is a reason for this brain-music connection.

“Music can open forgotten doors to your memory,” Andrew Budson said, director of the Center for Translational Cognitive Neuroscience at Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System. 

Budson also said that music can cause memories to flood back, similar to when you visit your hometown or go to a high school reunion. Music helps me vividly remember an experience I had while listening to that song. 

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One of the most recent instances of this I can recall was when I was at Ocracoke Island. We were driving on the beach at sunset while “Southern Cross” by Crosby, Stills and Nash played on my friend’s parent’s favorite channel — Yacht Rock radio. 

This was the quintessential Christle summer camp. My best friend Megan and her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Christle, would take me and another close friend, Amanda, on a trip every year. This trip was usually to their cabin in Grayson Highlands, Virginia; however, this year was different.

My move halfway across the country back to Wisconsin derailed plans for a traditional summer camp experience, so there we were on the beach in North Carolina. 

My cell phone stayed in my pocket, and yet I can remember very specific details from that moment — where I was sitting in the car, what I was wearing, the temperature, how the breeze flowed between our hair and the happiness that radiated in that car. 

While it was a bittersweet moment finishing our final night of summer camp, I couldn’t have imagined a better ending than watching the sun dive below the horizon, while we all sang “Southern Cross.”

This distinct music-memory connection is a concept that isn’t unique to our generation. For my “dad rock” loving Dad, it meant incorporating his favorite band into his wedding. 

My parents share the same music taste, specifically a love for the group of Australians known as AC/DC. He had fond memories associated with that music, and he even played the band’s song “Shook Me All Night Long” as the first song at my parent’s wedding reception.

The way that my parents fondly remember their AC/DC-filled wedding reception makes me wonder if these memories are the reason why our parents and caretakers play the songs that they play. 

They want us to be able to make our own memories with the songs that they grew up with and that they correlate with some of the happiest experiences of their life. 

Melissa Owens, a music therapist at Virginia Commonwealth University, said, “I still find myself in awe of music’s ability to positively change the relationship between a caregiver and their loved one, if even only for the duration of the specific song.” 

I think that the music that memories can help keep in our minds is a powerful tool, and it helps me remember “the good old days” of my short lifetime. 

Madison Moris can be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributors
Madison Moris
Madison Moris, Social Media Manager
Madison is a first-year environmental geology and journalism student. This is her second semester at the Spectator. When she's not plotting to run away on the Appalachian Trail she likes making jewelry, going to concerts and participating in other shenanigans.
Marisa Valdez
Marisa Valdez, Graphic Designer
Marisa Valdez is a second-year graphic design and multimedia communication student. This is her first semester on the Spectator team. She is active in the University Honors Program and UWEC InterVarsity. Additionally, she is employed at UW-Eau Claire's Learning Technology Services (LTS) as well as Printing Services. When she's not engaged in academic-related activities, she loves to crochet, watch movies, talk with close friends, hammock, hike, practice yoga, dance or read!

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