Yes, Woman. It's Yummy. God.

But I Know One Thing

Scene: Car. Interior. Jason runs into store for essentials (wine, more wine) while Amy, Noah and Ezra wait in the car. It's a nice night, so he cuts the engine. The iPod goes silent.

Noah: No! No! I want the blue song! I need the blue song!

Amy, who less than like, 24 hours earlier wrote about this very quirk, complete with the words "songs are rarely blue" because OF COURSE, quickly turns the car back on. "Bust A Move," as sung by the cast of Glee, starts up again.

Noah: No! That's the orange song. I want the BLUE song.

Amy starts going back through shuffled songs they've listened to already.

Noah: NOT THE RED SONG! I need the blue song, Mommy!

Amy starts playing random songs that he might have heard recently, then a bunch of his favorites. Four or five yellow songs, two pink and another orange song are all emphatically rejected. 


Amy: I don't know the blue song, Noah. I..I don't hear songs the way you do. 

Oh awesome, and now he's crying.

Amy: I don't see colors for songs, baby. That's a really special Noah thing. Can you sing it for me?

Noah snuffles and starts humming a familiar tune...that Amy still cannot quite place. Shit.

Jason returns to a scene of full-on hysterics. Noah continues to plead for his blue song. Amy is about to chuck the stupid iPod out the window.

Jason: What does the blue song sound like, buddy?

Noah hums it again. Amy suspects Vampire Weekend. Amy is wrong. Jason is like, DUDE. Amy looks at him like, I KNOW RIGHT?

Jason: What does the blue song look like?

Noah: Fireworks. Blue ones.

Amy gives up, hits shuffle, hopes for a miracle out of the 1,328 or whatever songs. "Say Hey (I Love You)" starts up, and Noah stops crying. He looks out the window and starts shaking his head to the beat.

Jason: Is this the blue song?

Noah: No. It's green. It's okay though.



Can I just say I love that you chose the green player for the song? :-)

On the other hand, the sheer frustration experienced by everyone except Ezra in this story is uncomfortably familiar. I'm sorry. And I'm so glad "Say Hey" was there to save the day.


Have you ever asked a musician about the classifications of songs? We talked about this a bit at my house the other night & my son suspects that it has something to do with the scale & time used...something only a musician like him would catch on to. Like, all of Jack Johnsons songs were somethingorotherItotallydidn'tunderstand.

She Likes Purple

I dance around the living room to that song with my kid. He likes it a lot too.


First? First!

I love this song, it was my pregnancy song and I *think* my one-year-old remembers it from the womb. That and the Barack obama one...

Noah has good taste!


Oh, wow. See it took me so long to write that comment I lost my first! Boo.


In case you didn't already know, the fancy name for this is Synaesthesia.


Noah is a saint. :) I love that he knows what he wants but in the end is willing to do the kid equivelant of rolling his eyes and shaking his head and saying, "ok, close enough". Perhaps this prepares him for life as a high school drama teacher. :)


I'm so ridiculously fascinated by this. I would love to hear more from Noah about why the songs are the colors they are. Can you have maybe a playlist with the color and what they look like and why? I think that might be like crack for me. I (very) briefly (like a day or two) was a Music Therapy major; I kick myself often for changing majors. This seems like such a gift (I would even use gift instead of quirk, as quirk can have negative associations).


Yeah, that song does sound kind of green to me. What a genius boy you have!


Have you noticed any similarities between the songs that Noah identifies as one particular color?
I wonder how much Noah, intuitively knows about color theory. Like for instance that to get green you combine blue and yellow. I'm wondering if he was satisfied by this song because it has some blue in it?

I have very mild synethesia and I WISH it was of the color variety. Instead mine seems to be related to dates, times, and objects, and sensations. For instance there's a woman in one of my classes who IS a Ford Focus and I have a yellow mechanical pencil which is Christmas when I was 6 years old. I haven't ever been able to explain why I associate things the way I do, it just happens. Sometimes it's mysterious and perplexing and sometimes it's magical.


I think that is an amazing gift that your precious boy has! If only we could see it sounds beautiful!


I freakin' love that kid. Seriously.


I guess I like green songs too! Bless him, I bet Noah's world is so bright and colourful! Such a cool little guy!


i think that is awesome and really very special.

also, do people on the internet still really go First! I'm first! Because note to those people: stop it, you're embarrassing yourself. A lot.

Mrs. D

What a beautiful way for Noah to experience the world!


You MUST download Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue." Even if it's not THE blue song, it is indisputably a blue song. :)


I see color-coded playlists in your future...


I teared up at the way you responded to him--"that's a very special Noah thing"--what a great way to make that "quirk" feel like the amazing gift it truly is.


Noah is so amazing


Thank you for the song!

And very much agree with above that you could make a playlist and share it. I personally would love to learn more about all this, and maybe even try to find new songs for Noah. Though I feel this song as yellow-going-on-orange (not synaesthesia, afaik), even before realizing the video was filmed in Brazil, which has always been a yellow country for me :p

Nicole P.

I second the color coded playlists so that you have an arsenal of songs for each color request!

So amazing that he sees it as blue fireworks. Wow.


I think it's time to set up color categories on the iPod!

He's an adorable little one. Love reading about your son!


Extraordinary! You need to start teaching Noah the names of songs. Sorry - duh. Also, I would love it if you posted a list of music that Noah enjoys and their colors. I am a 47 year old mom of a 5 year old girl. I wish i had more current tastes...

Angela Kennedy

Lesson Learned: Never Ever play the ipod on Shuffle.

Even better - create a playlist for each color.


Wendy - In case you haven't read it,the post I link to in the third paragraph lists the song/color classifications we've noted so far. I thought I was getting the hang of what type of song is what color...but then this was the first time he'd ever called a song green and probably only the second time he called one blue, which is why I had NO IDEA what type of song he was asking for.

I'm waiting for Amazon to deliver a couple books on synethesia that readers recommended. In the meantime I just keep making mental notes of the colors he mentions and trying to make it something fun and not a distraction/frustration, which admittedly it is for him a lot of the time.

Lucy's mom

I had it easier (no ipod back then, just a CD player) but I remember the whole panicked "no mommy, that's the wrong color!" as I skipped through the songs.
I'll have to show him this post tonight after he comes home from school, it will make him grin.


To keep track of the colors, in iTunes, you can put the color of the song in the "Comments" section of each track and sort by that. You'd still have to make playlists to sort the different colors on your iPod, but that way you wouldn't have to worry about deleting a playlist and having a crisis.


My 15 month old heard the song while we were out and about a couple months ago and started dancing right away. Took me forever to find out the name of the song based on just a snippet I recorded with my phone. :)


I have sooooo been there. Wait until Ezra starts to voice his opinion on what song to listen to and it is a different one than Noah wants. Many tears have been shed over the song Dr. Worm. Love the Vampire Weekend reference.


My lord I was tired after reading this story. You all must be exhausted!!!


Someone's comment up there totally gave me an idea: what about building playlists for Noah based on color? That would cut down on frustration for both of you when he's requesting a particular color and you have no earthly idea what he's talking about, plus it might be interesting for you to see if it helps pinpoint similarities between songs of the same color.


There was a Broadway show in 2001, based on drum and bugle corps field shows, called Blast! that grouped music into different color themes. (Won a Tony and Emmy award, too.) It was a neat presentation... though if Noah disagreed with the selection of colors, it might not be as much fun for him.!_(musical)

Aunt Becky

What a neat kid. Seriously. He amazes me with just how amazing he is.

Sprite's Keeper

I guess my daughter could be the same only that she tends to group songs by Princess. (Aren't you glad you escaped THAT trend?)
You know, ever since you wrote about synthesthesia, I've been seeing it mentioned almost everywhere I look!
I even had a conversation with my dad over Thanksgiving break when he mentioned it and I surprised him by telling him I had a pretty decent case back in childhood.


my daughter loves that song also! (and so do i)


Good taste Noah. You're going to be such a lady's man.


I LOVE the green song.


Lub! I lub that boy!

Hugs for the endlessly sweet and fascinating Noah!

PS: There must be an Ez Thanksgiving story waiting to be told ... :)

::: poke, poke, poke :::


Megan@Blueberry Scones

I have to agree with those who mentioned maybe discussing music theory with a musician. I'm sure you have quite a few readers who could hook you up with someone in the know about this kind of thing. I think it's fascinating, but I can see where it's also frustrating for you all.


Huh, I think Michael is color blind. Not sure how this is related to this post, but this post just reminded me me I need to make an appointment to get him tested for that.


Noah is so precious! Thank you for sharing stories about him!

Heather Z

Do you know the book A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass? I had never heard of synethesia until I read your former post. Then I saw this book (written for 5th - 8th graders...a while off for Noah, admittedly) at my daughter's school book fair. Thanks for teaching me about something I was unfamiliar with.


I'm joining the color coded playlist wagon. Can you print your playlists and color the songs as Noah listens to them?


I love that song (and the green player)! I'm kind of wondering if the blue song wasn't the song that was playing when the ipod got shut off, which is what triggered the fit in the first place but then I went back and re-read the beginning of your post and realized that nope. It was an orange song. It must be crazy making and at the same time totally fascinating to learn this particular way of "seeing" music as you go.


Someone has probably already said this, but it reminds me of the character Emma from Heroes. What a cool and unique way to see/hear things!

Amber McN

I love this. I'm sure it's frustrating as all get out but it also seems like a gift. Noah has great taste (HA! Synthesthesia joke.) in music. Can I borrow him? My iPod suckith.


I love your blog, and think that each entry is its own special gem, but the ones about Noah & his colors for music are fascinating, and you write with such reverence for his unique abilities. Cannot wait to hear more. I'm also inspired to finally listen to "Born on a Blue Day" which I downloaded eons ago.


I love the green song! I never knew the title for that one, but I hear it everywhere I go. Sounds green to me.


Man, I cannot wait to see what amazing things that kid does!


Add me to the group who would love to see a color-coded playlist posted for those of us who are always on the hunt for new tunes. Great song!


I need to get out more, song-wise, so I find more awesome songs like that. :)

Someone earlier suggested making playlists. It seems like you could have a separate mp3 player for Noah (they're on sale everywhere for Christmas), and every time he tells you the color of a new song, you add it to that color's playlist (or put it on a sticky so that you can do it when you get home).

That would (a) allow you to find appropriately colored songs quickly upon request, and (b) maybe help you get a deeper 'feel' for the colors (although from yesterday's thing it sounds like you already know the red ones!)

Seems like a good idea.


that song is undisputably king around these son calls it the "one two one two song" and it took me forever to figure out (by observing him count along on rhythm with the song) that he was counting beats.
Children are crazy awesome weird.

Martha Harter

What a beautifully unique little guy you have. I REALLY wish I could see the colors to songs, all I get is silly old emotions :)


That song just put a smile on my face. I can see why Noah enjoys it.


So frickin cool that Noah.


That is seriously awesome. I know somedays you must be frustrated, and then some days you must be in total awe of your unconventional kid. He's going to do big things, that one.

And thanks for the green song clarification!


My daughter calls that the 'wolves' song. She loves it too.

Karen Chatters

I love this song. I can see why this would be OK to replace the blue song. You should make some playlists and label them by color. Because, you know, you don't have anything else to do.


I didn't read all the comments, so if this was brought up before, I am sorry.

Why don't you spend an afternoon with Noah and run through the IPOD and ask him what color the songs are and write them down?

You might get some good insight into how the songs are to him, you might get some good insight into if there is a pattern, and you will definately have a cheat sheet for musical meltdown time.

Just a thought.

Love you guys.

Maxine Dangerous

Noah is awesome and wonderful. :) Also, that's a great song; I'd never heard it before. :)

Kristen McD

He is such a fascinating kid. For real.


Love it. I'm wondering if anyone else immediately started noticing the greens and blues in the video itself after hearing that it is labeled a green song by Noah, and then I'm wondering if the directors of the videos have applied color psychology to the way they shoot the video, but then that's a pretty short trip to seeing black helicopters, so I think I'll just enjoy the song now. Noah is brilliant, is only now emerging. :)


Absolutely facinating! I too would love to know what color he assigns to various songs and if they ever change. Thanks for sharing!

Amie Simmons

patience of saints. it is pretty adorable though.


So I'm thinking you sit down with Noah in the car, and put every song that strikes him as, say, RED in your "On the Go" playlist. Then sync up at home, and repeat for other colors. We have overlays of playlists on my iPod so that the same set of songs can be sliced and diced a few different ways, or they can all be played. Why not do the same for colors? e.g. Songs A, B, and C are all yellow, but A is also in playlist "Rock," B is in "Reggae," and C is in "Kids," and those three playlists are always loaded anyway.


My college roommate also had synesthesia and saw different colors in different patterns when she listened to music. She said that the colors also usually appeared in specific places in her field of vision based on the sound. Other than not being able to listen to some songs while driving at night, I think she really loved and appreciated her synesthesia.

I love all Noah (and Ezra) stories! Thanks for posting!

Amy in StL

I agree with Noah, this song had a very crisp green sound. Not that I know anything about that but I could kinda feel that after reading your post. Thanks for posting the link to the song; anything to brighten my grey cube.

Amelia Sprout

I think you should color code the playlists on the iPod, if not for the rest of us to learn, to help you when he is freaking out. Just sit down at the computer with him and go through all of the kid friendly music and classify it.


Thanks for this, Amy.

Not related, but my daughter just emailed me that her college roommate and best friend wants to transfer to a different school.

Daughter is also fascinated with the idea of synesthesia. I emailed your two posts and then listened to the YouTube video. Perfect.


I love that you have downloaded songs from Glee... proving once more to my husband that you and I are the same person, merely divided by space and time.


I adore that kid and have such a respect for you. I also love it that you said, "That's just a special Noah thing."

I wish I could hug him and learn the colors, too.


What a fascinating brain this kid has.


It's kind of beautiful that he sees songs as colours.


I was explaining to my daughter while reading your post that Noah sees color in music. She said, "yeah, I totally get that" and went on to explain that some music makes her "see" color in her mind, but not necessarily in the space around her.

She's going to be 19 in a couple weeks.

Holy Shit Amy.


So funny that it was a Glee song on when he said that, because Violet calls "Somebody to Love" from that soundtrack "The Blue Song" ... but that's because they all wear blue in the video clip.


His brain is amazing. That's lovely.


time to make playlists

just have him listen and then move those suckers into the appropriate list once he assigns it a color

then you can just hit the right color playlist


I can see him doing something amazing with his gift, like Pandora (based on the Music Genome Project - fascinating) and taking it to a whole new level. Special Noah thing - no kidding!


I can totally see Noah doing something utterly amazing with his exceptional gift. Something like Pandora (based on the Music Genome Project-fascinating) but taking it to a whole, new, and completely out of this world level.
Just one more example of a "really special Noah thing".


Ooops, sorry for doubling up. Thought it got lost. Just think of #2 as same thing with MORE FEELING!


I completely, totally love that Noah sees songs in colors. How amazing!


Time to organize ipod playlists based on song color!


Perhaps when Noah identifies a song's color, you can drop it into a color playlist in your iTunes?
Two benefits to this-at home, you can easily meet Noah's needs for a particular color song AND you'll be able to find commonalities among songs of the same color.
While I know it's frustrating, it is so cool that music has colors for Noah.


I know how frustrating that is, when you have no idea. I have to say, though, that I LOVE it that Noah hears music in color.


Perhaps it is time, on a good day, to make some color playlists to make your life easier.

Wouldn't it be easier if we could just tag songs like blog entries? That would improve your life.


As everybody else has said, apparently. Yay originality!


I love how you told him it's a "special Noah thing"- I've used that kind of analogy with my son who has Aspergers when it comes to some of his quirks.

BTW...Noah has kick ass taste in music...I *love* that song, and Michael Franti & Spearhead are coming in concert here with John Mayer...Gonna be awesome!


bless his heart!


My 4 year old son John classifies things by numbers - "what number is that mommy?" OR "what number are you daddy" NO NO that's not right.....
Like I know his magical numbering system. ... I hear ya!!! So silly, what cuties though!


Well I'll be downloading that one later today! Love it! BTW, Noah's like that one girl on Heroes! Who sees all the colors of music. HERO. :)


interesting! that reminds me of my own tic that i've carried through life, which is gender- and personality-assigning letters and numbers. like... D is masculine and R is feminine (but she's kinda a tough lady). i don't know what purpose it ever served me but it's what i always think of.

also, what about mental calendars? i picture the months as a really long oval, with the academic year on one half and the summer months stretched along the bottom... some people think i'm crazy and say their mental calendars are like stacked boxes, while others have NO clue what we're talking about.

anyway this color-coding of songs has to be related, it's all very visual. is that left- or right-brained?


"That's a really special Noah thing."

You are my mom-hero. I hope I have it half as together as you do as lawbaby grows up...

thank you for sharing your beautiful family with all of us.


My primer guide to the colors of music (keeping in mind that everyone is different, but Noah and I seem to kind of run parrallel):

Green: Pleasant, enjoyable, usually up-beat - these are songs I can listen to for background, but they're never a "favorite." If I'm playing a song over and over and over for, like, 4 or 5 days, it will never be a green song.

Red: Red songs don't "work" for me. They clash in my head. Either the beat is not quite right or the singing doesn't work or whatever... I don't want to listen to the red songs

Purple: Tend to be downers. I can understand how the White Stripes would be purple, what with that angst ridden voice.

This might be a good time to point out the various shades.

Like everything else dealing with color, different songs are different versions of the color.

"Swing Low Sweet Chariot" might be an example of a deep midnight purple, while "Pictures of You" by The Cure might be more lilac.

And, by the way, it is the songs that are the colors, not the artists. Although some singers, Jack Johnson comes to mind, tend to kind of put out the same song over and over so most of his songs are the same color.

"Tool Kit Colors"

These colors are more rare and can actually be used as tools (for me at least)

Blue: Blue songs are calming songs. They help you stop, focus and breathe.

Pink: Pink songs tend to be perky songs that make you smile. They don't make you HAPPY, but they make you smile and that's the first step to cheering up.

Orange: Noah might not yet have the skills to differentiate a red song from an orange song.

Orange songs tend to be agressive and can help a person work through their frustration.

Not every song has a color. They are nothing songs. Don't matter to me in the least. I can listen or not listen. If one is on I might scan the rest of the radio stations. If I don't find something I like better I can easily listen to a nothing song.

Not every song is only one color. "Shakedown Street" by the Grateful Dead is both blue and pink (but not lilac - blue AND pink).

The Grateful Dead actually is a good band choice for people who see colors with music because they were meant to be listened to with chemically induced synaesthesia.

Once you start to understand how it works, you can really use it as a tool.

The next time Noah is angry because he's frustrated and crying about something not working the way he wants it to try this:

Sit down and hold him on your lap, TIGHT, almost like you're trying to swaddle him with your body and play a blue song and rock him. Then play a pink song and start to tickle/tease him (or whatever your little happy game is). Then play Shakedown Street and get up and dance goofy in the living room. See if he's not significantly calmed down by the time you're done (about 5 minutes or so).

The next time he's angry because he's frustrated over something he has no control over try this: Grab a tennis ball and your ipod. Crank up an orange song and throw the ball at the garage door as hard as you can to the beat. That will help him channel some energy and vent.

Finally, please remember that synaesthesia affects ALL the senses. Start asking him other questions.

What color is this song? Blue?...
Oh, does it have a smell?

Boy you sure like that pink song, don't you... what does it taste like?

That way you can build up your arsenal. If you can't find a blue song, maybe a blue smell will work, or a blue food might be an acceptable substitute.

You're on the right track... good luck. As soon as you start to understand it you can utilize it to make day-to-day activities go much smoother.

Sara -- The Football Wife

Mama -- shorten his playlist & get a decoder! And some music lessons. ;)


I love a happy ending. I'm so glad the green song was good enough - what a good sport!

I second the motion requesting that you post a few playlists. I enjoy music, but don't have that knack of finding songs worth listening too - of any color. please share!


I hear the green too, Noah. :)


That made me all teary-eyed and I don't know why.


Molly- I see the calendar the same way.

I also think some things taste and smell round- not like a circle, like a sphere. Ages also have a pattern that I can't even put into words, it's kind of spatial, but I don't literally see it, I sense it. If that makes any sense. I thought everyone did all those things. I've never had the color experience, though.


Don't know if anyone else has suggested this, but once Noah labels a song with a color, you could go into iTunes and add "BLUE" or "GREEN" at the beginning of the song's title or album's name. Then when he wants a certain color played, you can select all of the blue or green songs. I heart Noah. I wish I could see colors with music.


I've commented about our boys' similarities in their quirkiness before, I think...but holy crap...I read your first post about the color songs and it reminded me about some book that I read about a man who also associated days with colors. Then, just a day later or so, my 4 year old son, who is abnormally obsessed with numbers, (holy hell, that's a lot of commas there) tells me that 9 is blue, and 6 is green, and 244 is pink....must go and google more of that syn-word.

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