Music, to a lot of people, is nothing more than background noise. It is nothing more than something to dance to at parties and clubs, or something to listen to on long drives. It is something that is disposable to many people – buy a cd, listen to the single a few times, put it away. I am not like this. I believe in the power of music – the power to make us remember, help us forget, and bring us together.
In 1992, I was around four years old, sitting in the back of my parent’s Bronco on a warm July morning. My father was taking us fishing. On the drive, a song came on the radio. My father began to sing the opening line (She’s a good girl/Loves her mama/Loves Jesus/And America, too…) and carried it all the way into the chorus, my brother and sister humming the melody. The chorus picked up and I belted it as loud as was possible. It was the first song I can ever remember being in love with.
Years later, I was riding in the passenger seat of an old Volvo on the last day of high school – forever. We skipped the last few hours of the day to go to his house, drink, and listen to music. As we drove down the highway, the smell of summer soon approaching in the air, we sing to the tune of Elvis Costello. He strums the rhythm of the bass line with his thumbs onto the steering wheel. Later that evening, a little buzzed and bored, we buy doughnuts and decide to go to a baseball game. As we walk to the field, the sky is turning purple and red. There is a man in a small, rusty Ford pick-up truck driving past us, “Dancing in the Dark” blasting from his stereo. We begin to dance, right there in the middle of parking lot, in front of around sixty people. We were young and alive. We had our whole lives ahead of us; the time was right, the song was right. We were right.
Months later, I was a freshman in college, depressed and going through my first real break-up with my first real boyfriend. It was around two in the morning as I left his house and drove the hour back to school, the tears in my eyes making it difficult to stay beside the fluorescent yellow divider lines. “Gloria” by Patti Smith comes on the radio. I smile. I sing. I am impervious to heartbreak.
Years later, the first song I ever loved still holds the same excitement and purity that it did back then. I still belt out all the lyrics to “Free Fallin”‘ when I am driving my car. Good music has a way of sticking around. I know I will feel the same excitement I felt the first time I heard Jeff Buckley’s voice when I discover a new artist, and in this, I believe.