Ongoing History of New Music Daily: Your 14-year-old self

There’s about a 10 year period in our teens and early 20s when we come of age musically. This is the time of life when you’re into music more than you’ll ever be. We use music to figure out who we are as people and we use music to project who we are to the world.

Researchers in the UK have discovered that the most important age of this period is 14. They pulled together nearly 500 people between the ages of 18 and 82 and played them songs that charted between 1950 and 2015. They discovered what they called the “reminiscence bump,” a time when music triggered strong feelings of nostalgia along with strong emotions and memories.

No matter who they looked at, this bump centered around music the subjects heard when they were 14. What’s more, is that the memories associated with those songs were much more accurate and vivid. No wonder we think the music of our youth is the greatest of all time.

You will never outgrow your 14-year-old musical self.

Check out yesterday’s post on the time the Ramones rejected a song Bruce Springsteen wrote for them. And don’t forget to check out my podcast The Ongoing History of New Music where you listen on SpotifyApple PodcastsGoogleStitcher, or wherever you get your on-demand audio.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

2 thoughts on “Ongoing History of New Music Daily: Your 14-year-old self

  • Pingback: Ongoing History of New Music Daily: Kurt Cobain's suicide gun - Alan Cross' A Journal of Musical Things

  • January 29, 2021 at 9:26 pm
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    I’d really like to see the source on this one. I can’t think of how they would make a study like this statistically valid and across genres unless the people had to like vanilla music. And why play such a wide spectrum of years to a wide spectrum of ages and how do you correlate memories to those songs? There are a LOT of variables there.

    For me personally, 14 wasn’t statistically significant musically. I’d even go so far as to say it was probably a non-year musically. 13? Very important. 15, closer. 16, Oh yes (car! freedom!). 12, probably, 11. Almost positive. 10. Nearly positive. and above 16 it just went up and up etc. The most tangible and musically profound memory laden years? 18-22. And this is NOT counting some very formative 16-18yo years where my penpals from all over the world were making me mixtapes of everything from foetus to einsturzende neubauten to the fall to dead kennedys to nina hagen and lizzie mercier descloux and on and on. Mind blowing stuff that I might have heard because I had BRILLIANT luck with exposture to Live 105, KROQ, three local college radio stations and my high school college radio station and a very vibrant music scene locally as well as the king himself, Bill Graham. (Forever, RIP and always missed.) (Lost the will to capitalize 🙁 ) But yeah, source please! I’m way behind on podcasts plus I have to savor them because they are so short and if I listened to them as they came out they wouldn’t be the treats that they are. I get one every three months or so MAX. Way too precious. (no joke!)

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