It could never be complete or accurate enough, but I’m crossing number 76 off The List.
Way back on the radio dial
A fire got lit inside a bright eyed child
Every note just wrapped around his soul
From steel guitar to Memphis all the way to rock and roll
– Will Hoge, Even If It Breaks Your Heart
The power of a song is something that’s difficult, if not damn near impossible, to explain to someone who is not a true music lover.
Most people listen to music. Most people like songs or beats or rhythms. Most people like a line because it rhymes with the one before it, sing along with the words they happen to know and don’t think about it again until it happens to come across their radio again. It’s background noise during their day, something to fill the silence on the car ride home, something to keep them moving while they clean the house. It’s there but insignificant. Then…. Well then there is the rest of us.
There are people that truly love it. Ones that breathe it in, that become so entwined with it that they’re not sure where the song ends and their own emotions begin. Ones, like myself, that when all else fails us in life – it’s there. The songs, the harmonies, the lyrics, that perfect guitar lick that hits you in just the right way, the way you needed it to.
Some turn to their music collection for background noise, something to fill the silence or the past time. But to the music lover? It so much more than that – we turn to it for comfort, for hope, companionship, a way to wallow in our self-pity for a bit, for a way to voice the feelings we bury inside in a way that we could never do on our own, for a way to break out of the same self-pity mode, for support, validation, friendship, a smile or a memory… and maybe most importantly for that 3-5 minutes of strings and chords and notes that let us know that we’re not alone – even if it does sound like such a cliché. That someone out there, somewhere along the way, has felt what we felt. Been where we’ve been. Needed what we need. Cried for the same reasons we have tears. Picked themselves back up with the same strength we need to dust ourselves off and give it another go.
As a music lover we have that artist or band that we turn to – for the comfort or the memories or just the familiarity. For 99.9% of us, we will remain completely personally irrelevant to the person who made that song. To the living breathing man that penned those lyrics we will be nothing more than a face in the crowd with our arms above our heads singing every word back to him.
And honestly, that’s ok with me. Because of those songs he’s sings, those lyrics he’s penned – I know that there was one other person in this world who for the smallest moment in time was just like me. With similar thoughts and a similar voice, a kindred spirit for a small fleeting fraction of time.
One of my favorite songs ever written is Doby Gray’s Drift Away. A song that surmises perfectly my one true love I’ll always have in this world – the song. “Give me the beat boys and free my soul, I wanna get lost in your rock and roll and drift away.” To lose yourself somewhere between the verse and chorus, to hear that perfect lyric and think, “Yes. That’s what I’m thinking, yes that’s how I feel, yes yes a thousand times yes!”
But he’s not done there. “When my mind is free you know a melody can move me, and when I’m feeling blue that guitar is coming through to soothe me.” Finding comfort in three chords and the truth, allowing the sharp edges of the day to be smoothed away with that all too familiar song, to think that finally… Finally. Exhale.
“Thanks for joy you’ve given me. I want you to know I believe in your song…the rhythm, rhyme and harmony. You’ve helped me along, making me strong.”
Their music has provided me a soundtrack to my days. A connection between a song and a moment so powerful that all it takes is a few simple chords to recall that lost memory like it had happened only yesterday. To bring that smile back to my face, that memory to the forefront, that snapshot of a moment captured with the perfect people and the perfect song and knowing that for some reason, for the smallest moment in time, everything was exactly the way it was supposed to be. YOU were where you were supposed to be.
The song becomes another character in my story, the background player that didn’t seem significant until it was taken away and you realize that without it, it falls flat.
I’m currently obsessed with Goodreads and through that I came across a book that I was far too excited about, The Show I’ll Never Forget. My review of the book became more about my obsession (yeah, it’s an obsession, I said it!) with music and by extension, the live show. As a music junky there is little I find more cathartic then going to a live show with 500 or 20,000 of my closest friends. Throwing your hands above your head, singing as loud as you can and losing yourself somewhere between the music and the lyric, your blood vibrating with the bass as it washes over you from the ground up.
Shows are able to move me. It’s the closest I’ve ever come to a religious experience.
One quote from the book stood out:
”If music was a way to discover something greater than me…I wanted it. I wanted the intoxication music might bring.”
Author Judy Core put it better than I’d ever be able to in Good Music Is Better Than Sex:
”Music is the fabric of my life, it is the soundtrack to the memories of my past, it is the background noise in all I do and it is the poetry of my heart. It can bring me to tears, it can make me feel powerful, it can tap into my anger and it can soothe my soul.
I am a very emotional person and music is my release. It digs deeper into my heart, into my soul, and into my essence as a living, breathing, feeling human being more than anything else in this world.
It is the lyrics, the voice, the guitars, the ethereal feeling that a song can transcend through me and just make me feel. I connect to song in a way I am unable to define. It just is, and it makes me free.”
That…that is it. The fabric of my life.
Give me the beat boys and free my soul….