top of page

On a Nostalgic Note

was specifically designed to keep the wood blocks from deteriorating, with a higher altitude with ample ventilation. 

In 1995, the temple has become a UNESCO Heritage Site. in 2000, after painstaking work, the Tripitaka went digital! And, the monks are making a copper version as back-up. Lesson learned from history!  We have heard of several cases where AI is used to help preserve and analyze ancient religious documents, which previously required monks an entire lifetime and could be lost if the specialists died.

Cover.jpg

This section of WSC goes through some of the most nostalgic songs ever. Everyone (in the senior division and above) has songs that make them wistful for moments they can never have-ana again, but are some songs more universally nostalgic? Listen to and learn more about the selections below, which are widely celebrated as nostalgic masterpieces, then discuss with your team: what do they have in common? Do they reveal a formula for making people sad about their lost happiness that future songwriters could follow? And do they work on you, or are you immune to their charms—and harms?

According to website thebeatles.com " 'Yesterday' is a song originally recorded by the Beatles for their 1965 album Help!. Although credited to "Lennon-McCartney", the song was written solely by Paul McCartney. It remains popular today with more than 2,200 cover versions, and is one of the most covered songs in the history of recorded music." The melody is sung solely by Paul McCartney and is about a breakup with a girl. Sung in a melancholy voice, it naturally gives you a feeling and longing for yesterday and first love. 

"Memories" has been a massive hit for Maroon 5 with more than 9 hundred million views on YouTube. The song celebrates the life of their late manager Jordan Feldstein who passed away in 2017. The song is written and performed by lead singer Adam Levine. You can't help but be moved by its  soulful lyric. The song is instantly nostalgic with catchy phrases such as "Here's to the ones that we got. Cheers to the wish you were here, but you're not. 'Cause the drinks bring back all the memories. Of everything we've been through" 

Pakistani singer Ali Haidar launched "Purani Jeans" in his Mahi album in the early 1990s, and it was a big hit, making Haidar a household name. The song is sung in Hindi-Erdu and the name literally means my "old jeans". It talks about coming-of-age and young romance with many nostalgic references to teenage years.  For a translation of the song's lyrics, click here.  The song even inspired a movie in 2013, where the main character goes back to his hometown to find his old love. Ali Haidar however, suffered a personal tragedy with the death of his son and stopped making music for a while, before returning with new music, a talk show, and began preaching religion.

"You Who Sat Next to Me" was performed by Chinese popular folk singer Lao Lang in 1994 with song and composition by Gao Xiaosong. This Mandarin tune was an instant hit from their album titled "Folksongs from School". The song talks about remembering details about their school years and memories of a beautiful classmate who shared the same desk. With guitar instrumentals, it has a romantic melancholic tune that is undoubtedly nostalgic. As most of us had many fond memories of friends and fun experiences with teachers in class, anything to do with school just naturally seem retrospective. 

sunrise, sunset.jpg

 Sunset" is easy enough so that I could learn the piano part – and I played it for my sister. And when I finished, I looked and she had tears in her eyes. And that was a very unusual experience." In the Fiddler on the Roof, the song is performed at the wedding, where two parents sing about how quickly their children have grown up. It talks about 'sunrise, and sunset' - the years fleeting by. It is now a popular wedding song too. Accompanied by orchestra, it has a very ' haunting chorus' that just instantly feels like you are traveling through time.  

Based on these examples, it seems that there is a common formula or key ingredients to creating a nostalgia hits.

1) A catchy, yet melancholic tune, usually in a minor key. The chorus is easily sung by fans, so that it can spread through word of mouth.

2) The song tells a story that many people can relate to from their youth - remembering the good old days - such as 'lost first love', 'partying with friends', and 'celebrating past successes'.

3) It has some key words that trigger to your memory, "yesterday, remember, lost, memories, time." - like Bob Marley's song that begins with "I remember when we used to sit..."

4) It seems that many classic songs of nostalgia themselves are songs of remembrance for some kind of tragedy in later years, which indirectly draws a mental link and helps attract media attention on the song, adding to a deeper meaning, such as "Tears in Heaven".

5)  It must inspire other copycats to make their own covers with new remixes, so the song stays popular for a long period of time, becoming a "classic" retro song. That's when it has a cult following and played at important events, like weddings & anniversaries to seal its nostalgia status. 

Given these success factors, do you think AI can create a nostalgic song that lets you reminisce about the past? 

Jambo Bwana, released in 1982, is a popular Kenyan song in the album Them Mushrooms, which has become the unofficial "Kenyan tourist song". Many even believe it is a folk song. The group Them Mushrooms was established as Avenida Success in 1969. The name of the band comes from a mushroom species, which proliferates widely in the Africa rainforest. The song has some popular Swahili phrases such as  'habari gani? nzuri sana' ("how are things going? very well") and hakuna matata ("no problem") The song might have even inspired the popular song Hakuna Matata from Disney's Lion King.   For a translation of the song's lyrics, please click here.  

However, if you go deeper into the lyrics, you find that it has a more meaningful and political message about Kenya's problems. The lyrics "Visitors are welcomed. In our Kenya, there are no problems" masks many of the issues facing East Africa today, such as inequality and economic challenges. Also, the word 'bwana' can literally mean "sir" but it can also mean "boss" or “master”, which implies the colonial past of Kenya. The song's popularity has inspired many covers and still brings awareness to Africa.  

Zilizopendwa is a genre of urban East African music and the word comes from Swahili, meaning "those that were loved". It also means freedom and became popular in the 60's, 70's and 80's following the independence of many African countries. It fuses traditional African music with western instrumentations, catchy phrases, and beats. 

Zilizopendwa is such an integral part of Kenya society that it has inspired a research paper by university scholars, who want to share the history of its development and also caution against misrepresentation. The research paper starts with the historical context after World War II with the emergence of many Western ideals and music styles, which drowned out other African music styles but gave birth to Zilizopendwa. One of the significant influences was the introduction of the guitar. As new songs were created, the popularity of zilizopendwa continued through remakes and covers by newer bands that kept the music alive with new beats and instrumentation. Then, it spread into schools and festivals through choirs, performed as both secular and sacred music. The authors believe it is important to understand the historical context of the songs and not just appreciate its melody and dance as many originals celebrate or draw awareness to critical issues that shaped the development of the region. Understanding is  for the  purpose of edutainment and continuity.

One of the ultimate films about going back in time is the classic "Back to the Future" by Robert  Zemeckis. The main character Marty McFly gets sent back in time in a flying car built by his eccentric scientist friend "Doc" and discovers life in 1955 when his parents were in high school. Luckily, he is able to get his parents to fall in love, save the town from bullies, and return to the present time in one piece. The story became a popular hit and several other sequels were made taking Marty and Doc to different periods in time to save his family's ancestors or descendants. The key message from the movie is that "you can't mess with the past, because everything we do has an impact on the future. 

This version of the song Mr. Sandman by Pat Ballard (1954) is set to Marty finding himself in Hill Valley after the car crash. You can see Marty confused and shocked to realize he has travelled back in time. The movie is set in 1955, so using Mr. Sandman as the background music fits perfectly and instantly makes the audience realize a time jump has happened.  If it

back-to-the-future-poster-large2.jpg

was set to modern music, audiences might think they were watching a dream sequence and not the plot of the film. Many time traveling movies use this format to signal a change in time or a flashback. On the contrary, a lot of popular historical dramas, like Bridgerton, set historical action with modern pop and rock music to give the story a modern twist and appeal more to younger audiences. Music definitely is a strong mental signal that tells the audience the era of the movie.  Just hearing something can give you a different feeling and connect issues and emotions. Songs of the past have powerful messages that still live through modern remakes.

bottom of page