Memory v Memories

A few weeks ago, one topic was memory and forgetting. I decided to play the song Memories, quickly searched, and got the song Memory.

Memories isn’t a song – at least, it might be another song, but it’s not the one I was searching for. The one I was searching for is The way we were, and the first word is ‘Memories’ (or ‘Mem’ries’). The words ‘the way we were’ occur at the end of the first, second and last verses.

The song I got is Memory, and the first word is ‘Midnight’, but no-one would ever think of searching for it that way (or at least I wouldn’t). The word ‘memory’ occurs at the beginning of the second verse, and is also tucked away in the last line of the second verse and the second last line of the last verse.

memory (uncountable) refers to the general ability to remember. a memory (countable singular) refers to one thing remembered. I can have a bad memory in general, but a good memory of a particular person, thing, place or time (and vice versa). memories (countable plural) are simply more of those. In terms of computers, we only use memory. Computers don’t have memories – yet. (Replicants, on the other hand …)

I won’t link to those two songs – I’m sure you’ve already got one (or maybe both) in your head. But I need to credit Alan Bergman, Marilyn Bergman and Marvin Hamlisch, and Andrew Lloyd Webber and Trevor Nunn, respectively.

PS There was a surprising link to the lesson in the textbook, which contained a reading about a woman who can remember everything she’s done and heard or read – or possibly can’t forget it. I found a tv story about and interview with her. She met and married the love of her life, but he died only a few years later. She remembers that day with all its emotion for her. The song says ‘what’s to painful to remember, we simply choose to forget’. If only it was that easy. That woman and many PTSD sufferers would disagree, as well as many ordinary people with many ordinary memories they would love to chose to forget.

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