I believe in the power of music. Music has always been an enduring source of pleasure and comfort to me. From my first transistor radio with its tin can sound, music has been an almost constant companion, defining who I am and what I know about myself. No other art touches me the way music does. A certain song can bring joy to my heart or tears to my eyes. After all these years, Stevie Wonder’s “Talking Book” still freshens the wound from my first teenaged broken heart.
Music was something I took for granted as part of me. Until I had kids. For a time after my children were born I lost my identity. I was so wrapped up in being a “good” Mom that I temporarily forgot about being me. One day I realized my kids did not really know who I was. And neither did I. What pushed me toward that realization was that somehow while listening to Raffi and watching Sesame Street, I had stopped listening to music, my music. I was profoundly shocked at the impact not listening to music was having on me. At the time we did not own a CD player, but we still had a functioning turntable and I still had my records. What a joy it was to put “Motown’s 64 Greatest Hits”, Elvis Costello and Bob Marley on that dusty turntable and have my 3-year-old dance around the room with me. And tuning the radio in my minivan to the oldies station was like taking the first step toward a mini miracle: remembering who I was and integrating her with the Mom I had become.
Music centers us. It moves us. It sets the mood. What could possibly be more romantic than Johnny Hartman crooning “Lush Life” with John Coltrane on the tenor sax? That’s what music does to me-it makes me feel. Music tells us what and who and sometimes literally where we are. What is a wedding without the “Wedding March”? There is no full military honor funeral without “Taps”. Think of the 7th inning without “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”. And now, with all the changes in our lives after Sept. 11, we often hear the more poignant “God Bless America”. For me there is nothing that symbolizes our unity as a nation or serves as a more heartfelt reminder of that day than to hear that beautiful song sung on a warm summer night at any ball park in America. It too brings tears to my eyes.
From the jazz of the 1920’s to today’s rap each generation has its own unique soundtrack. I believe we always identify with our coming of age music. As I have aged I have realized that music is like a river that flows through my days and nights. Each day the new flows in with the old, creating a rich, fertile accompaniment to life. That river of sound can be slow and lazy or roaring at a furious pace. Either way its power is undeniable. And for the joy it brings to my heart, whether its Dvorak or U2, I say TURN IT UP!
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