Last year I was reading the book “Musicophilia” by renowned Neurologist Dr. Oliver Sacks, which deals with several fascinating effects that music can have on the brain of healthy, regular people, and also on the brains of those who have suffered some sort of disruption to their normal state of functioning. One such tale was of a man in the UK named Clive Wearing, who was living a real-life version of the film “Memento”, where he couldn’t form any new memories and his short term memory would reset in roughly the time it took him to blink an eye. Here’s a video of Dr. Sacks talking about Clive in greater detail.
Poor Clive was sent to live in a type of support home, as he was obviously unable to care for himself, and one of the coping mechanisms suggested to him by his doctors was to keep a journal which would hopefully allow for some memories to ‘catch’ and stay with him. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out as planned and his journal was filled with page upon page of entries like “I have just woken up”, which would be crossed out minutes later and replaced with another entry that would read “Disregard previous entry, I am now awake”. The man was in a constant state of feeling as though he had just woken, and he would say that he felt as though he was dead – totally devoid of feeling and past.
There were two things in his life that did bring him joy though, his wife and his music. He could remember complicated pieces of music and could play them easily from memory, and once the piece was over, he would be sitting at the piano unsure of what he was doing. The bright spot in his days would be when his doting wife would come to visit, and Clive would shower her with affection every two minutes saying something along the lines of “You’ve come to visit me!”
I found his story to be tragic, yet somewhat hopeful. Even in his state of nothingness, he still had his love for his music and his love for his wife. I was inspired to write a song for Clive, and in one afternoon I whipped up a rough draft of a song for him. I’ve sat on it for a year now because I didn’t really think it was ready, and although it is still in quite a rough form, I think now is a good time to share it. You can listen to the song here on my Soundcloud page.