Born to Rock
Have you ever smiled so hard for so long that your face hurt? Recently, I was at a concert featuring one of my favorite musicians. The band played some old material, explored some new stuff, built dramatic crescendos, dissolved into chaos, and generally blew my mind. I danced. I jumped. I laughed. I sang/shouted on cue. And I smiled, smiled, smiled. (I’m smiling now just thinking about it.) When I got home, I put a heating pad on my face.
This was neither my first nor last exalted memory from a concert. In fact, my brain must be hard-wired for musical ecstacy. Maybe this predisposition began when I was a toddler and I heard about the Beatles. In my early, dream-like memories, that name seems magical, like an incantation or invocation, and it seems to have always been whispered dramatically– “The Beatles.”
That’s when I first sensed the mystical power of rock ‘n’ roll that I experienced years later. As a teenager, I got my first jolt of joyous, live, electrified music when I went to hear a band called The Cars. The lights went down. I stood up. The crowd went wild. It was a carnival of sound and light– pure fun and excitement. And I wanted more. I got my next chance with a band called The Fixx. This is when I first started really dancing at concerts.
Dancing is a dangerous dilemma for a teenage boy. Sure, it looks fun, but it’s not easy– not if you want to look cool doing it. However, I discovered that I didn’t care about looking cool. I wanted to have fun; I wanted to dance. Lots of people at concerts don’t share my philosophy. They stand with their arms folded, get drunk, talk to their pals, hit on women, chat on their cell phones. Not me.
When I go to see a rockin’ band, I go into full boogie-meditation mode. I listen for every note, trying to hear what each band member is doing while hearing everything at once. And I dance. This is not the showing-off, look-at-me kind of dancing. It is abandonment, physical anarchy, sheer joy, exhilaration, exaltation, and completely unselfconscious. Look at me or don’t look at me; I don’t care because I’m having too much fun. Never mind that I can’t really dance or that I sometimes tip over when I jump too high. Never mind that other people might laugh at me or wonder if I’m having some type of seizure or just assume that I’m on five different kinds of drugs. I’m not. I’m high on music, and I’m never coming down.
Music didn’t prove to me that there is a God, but it convinced me that He is on my side. He created rock ‘n’ roll to set my soul free, to bring me into the eternal Now, and to put a huge smile on my face.