One of my most enduring memories is of my mom, my sister and myself dancing and singing to a Stevie Wonder song. It was the early 70s. My parents had not divorced yet. I probably wasn’t even in school at this point. Life, at this time, was still joyful and loving.
My mother had a console record player that was the focal point of the living room. She loved music and it was a love she handed down to us. My sister had CP and was confined to a wheelchair but music let her escape those restraints and allowed her to be free.
I remember vividly dancing around the room on the gold wool carpeting that covered the floor. As the music filled the room so did laughter and joy. For the all too brief moment in time, life was absolutely perfect.
Fast forward to years full of teenage angst and isolation. My truest friend was music. In the desperate times, music was my comfort. It could bring me to my knees in floods of tears. It could also fill my body with hope and resolve pushing me to be better. Music has been and still is as important to me as food and air.
There is one constant indicator in my life that let’s me know the darkness of depression is descending on me…when I stop listening to music. When the veil lifts, I run straight back to my music.
I grew up listening to rock and roll. I hated sappy songs, I loved hard driving drum beats and sludgy guitar riffs. Picture AC/DC, Zep and the like.
Mom listened to all kinds of music; Sinatra, Ella, The Beatles, it mattered not. All music had value. I learned that lesson in my soul. As I got older I branched out musically also.
The phenomenon is amazing to me that a song or even a chord from a song can trigger a memory. At almost 60 years old, when I hear “Sultans of Swing” I am transported back to 1976 driving my first car with my best friend listening to AM radio. That song reminds me of a sunny day in the fall, windows down, and no particular place to go. For that moment in time, we were free with no cares. All the garbage life drops on you ceased to exist. That feeling still fills me today.
Friday night were difficult for me in high school. For most it was football games and bonfires. Having social anxiety did not allow me to enjoy such things. As I sat alone in my house my record player was my best friend. On Friday nights, Tom Petty and The Cars kept my company. I would sing a duet or two with Stevie Nicks. I would write strange stories to Dazed and Confused. My music kept me sane.
As I got older life took over as it does. I still relied on music but it took a back seat to paying bills and attempting to be an adult. My old friend was always with me. Music was the driving force behind my drastic move to leave everything behind, start over and reinvent myself. I could not have imagined a new life without the inspiration that music gave me. Life is a highway after all.
Now that life is a bit slower, music is back in full force in my life. I’m discovering music I missed and listening to some new things. I Love all kinds of music. Now I’m learning about the people who make it, their motivations and experiences. My obsession has taken on deeper contexts and is not as superficial as it used to be.
I cannot imagine a life without words and I know a life without music would be barely a life. Music has showed me the greatest of joys, filled my heart with sadness and lifted me from the deepest of valleys. There were times I did not want to go on. I prayed to not have to wake up in the morning. I hated myself and all that entailed, but music, like medicine, would open my eyes to entirely different possibilities in life.
I thank God, with all sincerity, for blessing us mortals with the gift of music. A gift that touches our souls and opens our minds to new levels of thinking. Music has been a parent, a friend, an inspiration and a pure and simple joy. What a lovely sound music is. I’m so very blessed to have had the ability at a young age to dance and sing (very badly I might add) around the living room. Music became part of my DNA that day. Thank you Mom!