The Necessity of Musical Hallucinations

Illustration by Shout

That song stuck in your head is your brain doing its work.

During the last months of my mother’s life, as she ventured further from lucidity, she was visited by music. In collusion with her dementia, her hearing loss filled her consciousness with musical hallucinations. Sometimes welcome, more often not, her musical visitations were vivid, yet segmented and tattered. She would occasionally comment on the singers. On rare occasions she would identify the performer.

Mitch Miller, who wrote oppressively cheerful arrangements of popular songs from the 1950s, seemed to command a prominent role in her hallucinations. Full story.

Jonathan Berger (Nautilus) / January 29, 2015

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