There’s a special period in our lives during which we come of age musically. From about the time we enter high school to when we finally have to face the real world–roughly a ten-year period between 13 and 23 (+/- a year or two), we’re deeper into music than at any other time in our lives.
We use music to discover who we are and we use music to project our identity to the rest of the world. At no other time will we spend more time with music and going to gigs. This is why every generation believes the music of its youth is the greatest music of all time. These behaviors are of great interest to researchers.
A team at Durham University pulled together 470 people aged between 18 and 82. They were asked to rate 111 songs that charted between 1950 and 2015. Everyone was then asked if they knew the songs and if any of them brought back any memories.
The researchers found something they called reminiscence bump, a period in the subjects’ lives where music triggered strong feelings of nostalgia and other strong emotions and memories. This bump reached a peak with songs the subjects loved when they were 14-years-old. Those memories were more accurate and vivid. I quote:
“This suggests that memories that are central to one’s sense of identity are often inextricably associated with music. This may be related… to the common tradition of coupling music with significant life events and the increased consumption and value placed on music during key periods of identity formation in adolescence.”
In other words, you will never escape the music of your 14-year-old self. And that’s completely natural. Read more here.