Music Memory – Nobu Adilman

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 Nobu Adilman, a Toronto-based artist with many notable television, film and music credits. He is also a journalist, podcaster, and interactive web content creator. He is also the co-founder of one of the most professional non professional profession choirs going…Choir, Choir Choir.

“From a young age, my older brother and I were carted off to an infinite number of concerts, movie previews, plays, musicals, and festivals like Mariposa. We got lucky – our father was an entertainment journalist. Unfortunately, I was so young I fell asleep at a lot of them.

My first big concert was Blondie, with a fairly unknown opening band, Duran Duran. I was really into it but a few songs into Blondie’s set my chaperone for the night, a music critic friend of my dad’s, insisted that we leave so he could write the review. I was perplexed how he could write on the show after only a few songs.

Over the years, a lot of father/son bonding revolved around these concert outings. There was Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, and – this one stands out in my mind – Sarah Vaughan’s final Toronto show at Roy Thomson Hall. We were all transfixed.

Because of him, music became my everything: The Weavers – and then Pete Seeger – were the patron saints; Motown was the heartbeat; The Beatles had a lock on wacky and melodic; Paul Weller was my style guide.

My father’s love for music was obvious but he was also stoic guy who didn’t show his emotions too often, and very rarely, listened to music at home. He wasn’t the gregarious type, unless he was eating lobster or blueberries. That’s why it was a big deal to me when he’d quietly sing off-key to his favourites like Neil Young’s Heart Of Gold or Etta James’ At Last. In those fleeting moments, the door to his soft side opened slightly and it was very touching.

Over the years, he introduced me to everyone from Lightning Hopkins to Buffy Sainte Marie to Queen. And then there was Nina Simone. One day, her Greatest Hits album appeared and it went on a regular rotation that would last a lifetime. When the opening notes to I Want Some Sugar In My Bowl started up, we had no choice but to stop and sway. Our postures would slightly alter. He’d glance in my direction, give me a nod, and then lose himself in the music, dreamily, as he talk/sang along.

The door opened back up but in those moments and I’ll never forget it.”