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Psychologically speaking, smell in the sense most closely tied to memories, meaning the smell of our parents cooking or a late family member’s perfume may draw up old, nostalgic memories. But that doesn’t mean the other senses can’t do something similar, and millennials recently had that put to the test when Taylor Swift re-released her 2008 album, Fearless.
Due to a contractual breakdown and some business shenanigans, Taylor Swift does not own the masters to her first six albums. In an attempt to remedy that, she made plans to re-record them, beginning with her 2008 album, which won her her first of three Best Album Grammy’s.
The weekend the re-recorded version, called Fearless Taylor’s Version, was released, I and many of my generational comrades were brought right back to wherever we were in 2008. For me and those around my age, that meant being brought back to high school, which is also largely the setting for Fearless, making the album something of a double-whammy.
It’s an interesting experiment to have millions of people revisit an album about high school heartbreak and homeroom, being fifteen and dreaming of more, more than 10 years later. I saw a lot of people tweeting or texting about old high school drama, joking about how certain songs helped them through various moments, reminded of it all through the sense memory of listening to old Taylor Swift tunes.
It was fun, and strange, to do it on such a massive scale, but it’s an experiment easily replicated by anyone on a more personal level, too: Just put on an album you used to love, many years ago, and let the vibes take you back to that old place. They may not match up to our sense of smell, but the movies and music we used to love are a type of magic little nostalgia machines all their own.
I’m Evan Rook.