Category Archives: Songs

Remember When. Songs That Recall Our Yesterdays.

Music can evoke strong feelings and memories. It’s one of the ways we personal historians can help  clients unlock stories from their past.

Not long ago some of my colleagues in the Association of Personal Historians began compiling a list of their  favorite songs that brought back memories. I’ve included some of them here and added some of my own. To listen to these selections, just click on the title.

Here are four songs that resonate with me:

“If I could save time in a bottle/The first thing that I’d like to do/Is to save every day ’til eternity passes away/Just to spend them with you”

“Memories, may be beautiful and yet/what’s too painful to remember/we simply choose to forget/So it’s the laughter we will remember/whenever we remember/the way we were.”

“There are places I remember/All my life though some have changed/Some forever not for better/Some have gone and some remain/All these places have their moments”

  • We Rise Again performed by Ann Murry, Rita MacNeill, The Rankin Family and Men of The Deeps

“That as sure as the sunrise/As sure as the sea/As sure as the wind in the trees/We rise again in the faces/of our children/We rise again in the voices of our song/We rise again in the waves out on the ocean/And then we rise again”

Here are some other great songs from my friends at the APH. What are the songs that speak to you about the past?

“It’s not a question/but a lesson learned in time./ It’s something unpredictable but in the end it’s right./ I hope you had the time of your life./ So take the photographs and still frames in your mind.”

“Grandpa, tell me bout the good old days/Sometimes it feels like this world’s gone crazy/And Grandpa, take me back to yesterday”

“Remember when thirty seemed so old/Now lookn’ back it’s just a steppin’ stone/To where we are,/Where we’ve been/Said we’d do it all again/Remember when/Remember when we said when we turned gray/When the children grow up and move away/We won’t be sad, we’ll be glad/For all the life we’ve had/And we’ll remember when”

“Blowing out the candles/on another birthday cake/Old enough to look back and laugh at my mistakes/Young enough to look at the future and like what I see/My best days are ahead of me”

“Time it was, and what a time it was, it was/A time of innocence, a time of confidences/Long ago, it must be, I have a photograph/Preserve your memories, they’re all that’s left you.”

“Once upon a time there was a tavern/Where we used to raise a glass or two/Remember how we laughed away the hours/And think of all the great things we would do”

  • Dream performed by Judy Collins

“I wish, I wish, I wish in vain/That we could sit simply in that room again/Ten thousand dollars at the drop of a hat/I’d give it all gladly if our lives could be like that”

“You must remember this/A kiss is just a kiss, a sigh is just a sigh./The fundamental things apply/As time goes by.”

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Photo by Ford Veate

A Little Musical Inspiration.

I like I’m Still Me by the Williams Riley Band even though I’m not a big fan of country music. The song addresses the truth of what we know as personal historians. That behind the thinning hair and wrinkled skin is a person whose life is rich with the memories of living. How fortunate we are to be able to provide a service that ensures that these memories are never lost. Give a listen here to I’m Still Me. You won’t be disappointed.

Photo by iStockPhoto

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Warning: Using Copyright Music Without Permission Is Illegal.


Some of you may be unaware that including favorite pieces of music in your travel, birthday, wedding or life story videos is illegal if that music has a copyright. It doesn’t matter if the only people who are going to see your production are family and friends. It doesn’t matter if you’ve bought the CD and are using only a few clips. It doesn’t matter if you’re never likely to get caught. The truth is that using someone’s original work and not paying for it is essentially stealing.

So what’s the solution? You can get permission to use the music from the copyright holder. This is not for the faint hearted. It can be a lengthy and expensive task – hardly something you’d want to do for Uncle Jack’s retirement video.

There are several other possibilities. What I do  is hire a local musician to compose and play original music for my videos. He’s excellent and has been kind enough to give me a great rate. There are all kinds of struggling young musicians out there who would love to compose and play something that would work in your video. Check out your local music school, University fine arts department and the Internet.

Another solution is to use royalty free music available from a number of  web-based companies.  One I discovered and would  certainly recommend is incompetech. It’s owner/composer/musician  Kevin MacLeod offers a wide selection of his own work and makes it available for free or a modest $5 donation. You can’t beat that.

I’ve assembled a partial  list of other royalty free music providers below. Just click on the site for further information. I haven’t used any of these, so I can’t personally vouch for them.

Photo by Olivier

3 Special Ways to Say “I Love You” This Valentine’s Day.


Valentine’s Day is only a few weeks away. This year rather than the usual flowers or chocolates for your sweetie, try some of these unique ways to say, “I love you.”

  • Find a piece of beautiful stationary and handwrite a letter describing all the things that you’re grateful for in your relationship. Be specific. For example, don’t just say, “I’m grateful for your encouragement.” Rather write something like, “When I was unsure about taking that new job, you were there for me. I remember how you talked me through all the reasons I could do it. Thank you for all the ways you give me encouragement.”
  • Gather together a selection of  all of the great photos taken of the two of you over the years and put the best into a photo collage. Have it printed and put into a beautiful frame.
  • Say it with music. If  you want to find out the #1 song playing the day you met or got married, you can go to this great site #1 Song on This Date . There you’ll be able to locate the song and go directly to the iTunes store and download it. Surprise your loved one by playing it on Valentine’s Day.

Photo by Timothy K. Hamilton

My New Year’s Wish.


Imagine there’s no Heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

How to Say Goodbye.

shafts-of-lightMy work both as a hospice volunteer and as a personal historian involves helping people record their stories at life’s end. When we know our time is limited it can focus our mind on what is truly important. There are many ways of saying goodbye. Some people choose an ethical will, something that I’ve written about in previous posts. Others prefer a video or book that chronicles their life. For some it could be a scrapbook filled with a lifetime of memorabilia. And still others put together a photo book that graphically highlights a life lived.

The other day my friend Gwyn alerted me to her son’s blog. Rob Jones has created a wonderful site devoted to the music he loves. It’s called The Delete Bin and what caught my attention were his list of 10 songs about death. One of them was written and sung by Warren Zevon after he knew he had only a short time to live. It is a poignant and powerful reminder that we all need to find a way to say goodbye…even if we are well and hope to go on living for some time. The truth is we don’t know what tomorrow will bring. Take a listen. Maybe there’s a poem or song in you that needs to be written now, to those you love.

Photo by Tanakawho

Are you afraid to say what you need to say?

Thanks to Jill Paulson at A Matter of Memories I was introduced to “Say What You Need to Say” by John Mayer. I think it’s a terrific reminder of how important it is to talk to those we love and say what we need to say. It has become, at least for now, my anthem for the work I do as a personal historian.

At the end of a person’s life, whether from age or a terminal illness, it has been shown that giving people an opportunity to tell their life stories can be of real benefit. But we don’t need to wait for death to be knocking on our door, we can start today to capture our memories and the memories of loved ones.

I’ve included the lyrics to “Say What You Need to Say” because it helped me appreciate John’s song even more. Enjoy!

Say What You Need to Say

Take all of your wasted honor.
Every little past frustration.
Take all of your so called problems,
Better put ‘em in quotations.

Say what you need to say

Walkin’ like a one man army,
Fightin’ with the shadows in your head.
Livin’ up the same old moment
Knowin’ you’d be better off instead

If you could only…Say what you need to say

Have no fear for givin’ in.
Have no fear for giving over.
You better know that in the end
It’s better to say too much, than never to say what you need to say again.

Even if your hands are shaking,
And your faith is broken.
Even as the eyes are closin’,
Do it with a heart wide open.

Say what you need to say

Say what you need to, Say what you need to…

Say what you need to say.