Music Memory – David Wall

Music Memory is sponsored by the Alzheimer Society of Toronto, offering the “Music For Memory Project”: a program based on the effects of music and stimulation on people with dementia, by providing them with iPods containing personalized music. For more information, visit

This week we hear from David Wall, a gifted musician who just joined the JAZZ.FM91 team this year as the Director of Community Outreach and Education.

“My most vivid, formative music memory goes all the way back to the summer of 1974. Gerald Ford was in the White House, Trudeau-the-first was living at Sussex drive and I was suffering through my life’s one and only experience of genuine, roughing it in the woods, Lord of the Flies style summer camp . I was too short, too skinny, I couldn’t swim and I was terrible at making friends. Yes, it was a perfect recipe for maximum fun.

In reality, of course, I spent the whole three weeks being taunted, feeling alone and utterly miserable. For me it was lots of quiet weeping, and basically zero joyful camaraderie and marshmallow munching.

One day, a bunch of us were taken on a rickety old school bus for an ‘outing’ to God knows where. As I sat alone on the bus trying to blot out the tumult of violent fun around me, the driver turned on his tiny, tinny transistor radio and the most amazing music poured out of it. It was like a hymn had been written just for me, and God himself had sent it from on high, directly into that crummy little radio. It was ‘Lean on me’ by Bill Withers, and it is still, today, my most favorite and cherished song. I guess it was the first time I was made aware of the true power of music; in the right circumstances it can save your life, or at least give your soul a whole lot of temporary relief.”