I need music in my life. I believe that music is as necessary as air, and that there is a soundtrack that plays to my life, mirroring my joy and my sorrow. Music keeps me connected to my history and hopeful for a better future. Without music, the movie screen of my life would be black and white.
I’m not a musician. I work to stay on key when singing. I don’t play any instruments well, yet I love the feel of a guitar in my hands. Music makes me feel ecstatic. It makes me cry, it compels me to dance, it leads me to reflect, it inspires me to write, and it gives me hope. I’ve sung gospel songs while listening to the Glide Memorial Church choir and felt the music bringing me closer to God, and to my neighbors. I’ve listened to a good friend play her music at an Austin night club, and I’ve felt the creativity and passion pouring forth from her enter me, and I was sure the music was a channel right to the heavens.
My father came of age in the 60’s, and Vietnam, Civil Rights and the Peace Movement defined his worldview. He was cool. My grandmother called him a hippie. My earliest musical memory was sitting in the passenger seat of his Karmingia, singing “Hey Jude” at the top of my lungs. Years later, when divorce and strife pulled my family apart, I was separated from my father for nine years. Listening to the Beatles in my room helped me imagine my dad. To me, he was just like John Lennon. To this day, I cannot hear “Hey Jude” without the cellular memory of my childhood image of my father awakening somewhere deep in my bones.
My mom took my grandparents and me to see Sonny & Cher at the Circle Star Theater for my ninth birthday. When they performed James Taylor’s, “You’ve Got a Friend,” my grandmother reached over and squeezed my hand and whispered in my ear, “That’s right; you do always have a friend.” I’m forty-two years old and I still cry when I hear that song.
In junior high my best friend Margaret and I would memorize all the lyrics to our favorite Steely Dan songs. And to this day I can’t hear a Steely Dan song without feeling nostalgic about my youth and remembering my friend Margaret.
Now, I watch the infectious way my 19-month old daughter responds to her favorite songs. I see how the right song can ward off a tantrum, and how dancing together to the Wiggles on our living room floor is how the soundtrack of my life is blending with hers. I believe the seeds have been planted in her for the love of music. I will do what I can to make sure the gift of music is there for her as much as it has been for me. For I believe that everyone needs a soundtrack to their life.
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