Why do we like the things we like? The mechanisms that activate our affinities are often inscrutable, and part of the fun lies precisely there. It goes without saying that another positive aspect of our affinities is that most of them are not exclusive, but cumulative; there is usually an evident relation between them, but some times not quite so. Nevertheless, under seemingly distant fields, with ones having nothing to do with each other, we can find underlying common characteristics prone to particular sensitivities. In my case, and I’ve been told in many others as well, two predilections coexist in my day to day and I suspect they are not entirely unlinked. On the one hand, bicycles, cycling; on the other, songs, pop music. These days, with the Tour de France on-going, the balance should be inclined towards cycling. But far from being communicating vessels, one philia seems to encourage the other, so I’m quite at a loss here.
“Bicycles are a straight line towards childhood”, affirms French comic book author Didier Tronchet. Although the way in which we relate to this vehicle at 25, 40 or 60 can seem very different from when we were kids or teenagers, there is an essential side to it that connects them all: its enormous potential as an instrument to grant us freedom, its capacity to give us back a sense of playfulness that adults are deprived of between obligations and responsibilities. In other words, we are allowed to be children again. Another evidence of the link between childhood and bicycles appears when one ask non-cycling fans what does the Tour de France represent for them: their answers usually refer to the past, to childhood summer afternoons, to kids trapped in their houses after lunch, not allowed to get out on the streets and play on midsummer dog days.
On its part, pop or popular music also has, for good and for bad, a very strong link with the past. It finds inspiration on it to such an extent, at least in the last few years, that the most important trends are directly imported from past aesthetic movements. But the aspect I’m more interested in nowadays is the same I was referring to when talking about the bicycle world: the by no means irrelevant capacity of songs to resort to the past, to activate or generate memories, real or fictional. To act as a kind of Proustian madeleine, let’s say.