When you hear a certain song, are you instantly transported back in time? Cognitive researchers who study the way our brains work have demonstrated the ability of songs to conjure up powerful memories.  The soundtrack of my life consists of ’80s music from my elementary years and a mix of artists and genres as my musical tastes evolved, including some artists whose careers I’ve followed for years.

I remember the first time I ever heard Sarah McLachlan’s hauntingly beautiful voice emanating from my graduate-school roommate’s room down the hall from mine. “Fumbling Towards Ecstasy,” “Mirrorball,” and “Surfacing” were albums I listened to over and over again. Like groupies, we gathered our fellow Sarah-loving fans to see her close Lilith Fair at Great Woods, singing as she swung from a giant swing over the stage.  Later, Sarah’s songs became the background music as I road tripped it down to DC to spend time with my now-husband.

When we got married, we made wedding CDs as favors for our guests.  It was only fitting that “Ice Cream,” one of my favorite Sarah songs, was part of the playlist.

“Your love

Is better than ice cream.

Better than anything else that I’ve tried”

“Who is Sarah McLachlan,” our kids asked when I recently told them that we would be seeing her in concert during her 2012 Symphony Tour. “Do we know her songs?”

Just as my roommate shared Sarah with me, and I shared her music with my husband, we’ve been passing her songs along to our kids as they pop up randomly when our iPod is on shuffle or through Spotify play lists. They know far more songs than they think they do but in the next week before the concert, I’ll be making sure that they know them well enough to belt them out with the rest of Sarah’s fans.

Sarah McLachlan is performing with the National Philharmonic during her 2012 Symphony Tour on July 5 at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland.  Gates open at 6 pm and kids 14 and under get free lawn access with each paid lawn ticket. For tickets, visit Ticketfly.com or call 1-877-4FLY-TIX

I received complimentary tickets for my family to attend the concert in exchange for this post.