I often recognize voices more quickly than I do faces. I become use to the sound, inflection, and cadence in a person’s voice. My memory stores scents and sounds much more quickly than faces. And even with faces, my memory latches on to one or two parts of a face (eyes or mouth, usually) and not the whole. Specific parts that make them unique. But voices…voices come to me more quickly and elicit more powerful emotions. My mother’s voice singing, my husband’s voice telling a story, hearing Ian McKellen as Gandalf…these voices all bring dearly-loved memories to the forefront of my mind and make me smile without fail.
My propensity for voice-memory is also true with actors and TV shows. I learn parts of actors’ faces and especially their voices rather quickly and I find that, once they become familiar, to hear them again is oddly comforting.
Case in point: I am watching the X-men anime television show on DVD currently and, the minute Wolverine opened his mouth, I said to myself, “I know that voice.” So what else did I do but look it up? I found out that it is Stephen Blum, the same gentleman who has played Wolverine in several of the video games, as well as in “Wolverine and the X-men” and a host of other Marvel animated movies and specials. To hear that voice and recognize it distinctly as Logan, my Logan, makes me ridiculously happy. That gruff voice is oddly comforting to me; it helps me feel even more at home with one of my favorite comic franchises, to put a voice to the lines that I am so familiar with.
I have a similar reaction to the voice of Kevin Conroy, the gentleman who was the voice actor for Bruce Wayne/Batman for most of my life, starring the well-known animated shows “Batman: The Animated Series”, “Batman: Mask of the Phantasm”, and as the elderly Bruce Wayne in “Batman Beyond”. Without his voice, Batman just doesn’t “sound” right to me. He is the only one who has even done the voice difference between Bruce and Batman correctly and believeably. He doesn’t growl or tear his vocal chords to shreds; it’s a simple, well-done timbre change. As he is phasing himself out of the role, I find that I am snatching up as many of the Batman movies and whatnot that he is in as I can. It’s a sweet bit of nostalgia that I am unwilling to give up. Not just the memories of the show but those that accompany it; friends coming over, laughs being had, all the rest of it.
Voices are precious to me – their cadences, inflections, the quips, repeated phrases, and mottos spoken by them. It’s why I’ve been speaking, reading, and singing to my daughter while she’s still in my belly. I want her to learn and know my voice, the things I say, and how I say them, as well as those idiosyncrasies of her father’s voice. Voices are precious, words are precious, and one of the greatest gifts of memory that we can be given or give. It’s a gift I plan on bestowing upon my daughter.