This I Believe

Matti - Western Springs, Illinois
Entered on October 6, 2006
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: creativity
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“If Music Be the Food of Love, Play On”

I remember the day that my dad gave me my first CD. I was about five years old and borderline obsessive about cats. That was what had led my dad to buy Carole King’s album, Tapestry, for me. He had thought of me because on the cover was Carole King sharing a window seat with a fluffy gray cat. I can still hear my dad’s voice explaining to me that Carole King had been popular when he was in college and how a lot of people wanted her to come out of retirement. Though my obsession for cats faded, my passion for music was emerging in its earliest stages. That same day I sat on the couch and listened to stack after stack of my parent’s CDs and cassette tapes. My favorites ended up being an eclectic collection of Garth Brooks, The Beach Boys, Madeline’s Favorite Songs, and a cassette of lullabies.

In later years I joined my classmates in idolizing The Spice Girls, Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, *NSYNC, and so many other pop idols. Though their music didn’t exactly bring me to any deeper understandings or epiphanies, it did connect me to my peers at school.

Music also helped me discover myself in other ways. My whole life I had been memorizing the traditional irish tunes my dad listened to about loves lost, drunken nights, and homes left behind for nature to destroy. Their haunting melodies and detailed story lines kept me entertained on car trips to family parties or into the city. I connected to this music in that I could understand the emotion in the voices and sounds that came to me through the speakers in the car. I also clung to the idea that these songs were the stories of my ancestors in Ireland, my family here in America, and me.

I believe that music can define a person. Through the manipulation of notes, beats, and words the idea of life itself can be altered. Looking back at my life I classify my past experiences by the music I listened to. The awkward, melodramatic stages of my preteen years were Michelle Branch and Green Day. The pop idols of the late 90’s stand next to Molly Malone and Danny Boy representing 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade when who I was at school and who I was at home clashed enormously. Today I am The Cottars, Imogen Heap, Damien Rice, Sufjan Stevens, Hot Hot Heat, Relient K and so many others all in one person. The music that I listen to, play, and sing is ultimately who I am in this world.