Monday, October 17, 2011

Music and the Past

"Music is the best means we have of digesting time."
W. H. Auden

"Music's staying power is a function of how timeless the lyrics, song and production are."
Gary Wright

"One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain."
Bob Marley

"Music is forever; music should grow and mature with you, following you right on up until you die."
Paul Simon

The funny thing about music is that it has an uncanny ability to transport you through time, bringing to mind random memories you might not otherwise reflect upon.

Today, instead of taking my SUV, I decided to drive my daughter’s car around town. Granted, this was no venture into martyrdom for me – her car totally rocks. It’s a sporty little sedan with leather seats and a sunroof; really, what more could a mother of four who thinks she’s still 21 possibly ask for?  (Well, except for, maybe, a Mercedes SL450 - top down, please). However, there is one thing Sarah’s car lacks: satellite radio. At the risk of offending some you who make a living from terrestrial radio, I have to admit that, in my opinion, one of the best technological advances that has come along in the past say, 30 years, is the ability to listen to the exact same radio station, commercial free, anywhere in the country. And I really, really hate commercials and random radio chatter. Just the music for me, thank you very much.

Thankfully Sarah keeps an abundant supply of CD’s in her car for my listening pleasure. Today I selected a freebie I received a few years ago from the Gap. I popped the CD into the multi-disc player, kicked back (well, kind of – I’m pretty short so the seat is pulled up as close to the steering wheel as I can get without my nose pressing into the windshield, but you know what I mean), and prepared to listen to some cool tunes. The first song I heard was “Lovely Day” by Bill Withers and, honestly, no matter what the weather, whenever this song comes on it is, indeed, a lovely day.

Next up was a cover of Bob Marley’s “One Love” by Jason Mraz. Usually I’m not a fan of covers (unless James Taylor is singing…) but Mraz does such an incredible job with this iconic song that I never tire of listening to it. After Mraz came Joss Stone’s version (what do you know, another cover!) of “God Only Knows”. Actually - and this might be a first for me - I like Joss’s version better than the Beach Boys'. The only problem with this particular song is that I can never, EVER, listen to it in the presence of another human being because it reduces me to a complete blubbering idiot every single time I hear it. Whenever I listen (OK, sing along) to this song, I just can’t help thinking about (*sappiness alert*) my husband as Joss really lets loose during the end chorus. Tears are running down my cheeks right now, in fact. Give me a moment.

OK, that’s better. I’m back now. Anyway, the last song I listened to on the CD was Neil Diamond’s “Forever in Blue Jeans”. Man, I love that song. It really brings back some great childhood memories because Neil Diamond is my mom’s favorite singer. She would play the heck out of that cassette tape, which also included “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” with Barbra Streisand – another of my mom’s faves (OK, look, she’s originally from New York, so OF COURSE her favorite singers would be Neil and Babs. It’s a law.). Naturally, when I think about “YDBMF”, I think about my dear friend, Stephen Hart, and how we would sing that song and split the girl/guy parts (of course I took Barbra’s parts). From that memory came wonderful memories of high school chorus which led me to think about Hank Rhoden and Teresa Darnell, both of whom taught me how to harmonize. Oh, man, did we have fun in that class! We had the coolest teacher – Mr. Cripps. He wasn’t really a music teacher (I think his official subject was social studies, but I’m not sure. Actually, I don’t even care what else he taught because he was such a great supporter of our talented little group and worked so hard to help us be the best we could be.) He let us sing whatever we wanted and man, could those kids sing. I mean, really, really sing. Of all the things I did in high school, chorus was by far the most enjoyable and memorable.

Yes, I am always amazed by music’s ability to transport me back to the past. One minute I’m stopped at a traffic light, pulling gray hairs out of the top of my head, and the next I’m singing along to “Sister Christian”, feeling like I’m a senior in high school again with the big, wide, world beckoning me to explore its many possiblities. A feeling of contentment takes over as I instantaneously recall the highlights of my life and happily head my car toward home.

And then the CD changer moves on to the next CD – Britney Spears’s “Blackout”. As I pull into the garage I hear, “It’s Britney, Bitch.”

I'm home....

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