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Music & Lyrics

Posted Aug 26 2008 11:18pm

I have two songs stuck in my head on repeat play right now.

One is O.A.R.’s “Shattered” (I saw them in concert a couple years ago–fab!)

“How many times can I break till I shatter?
Over the line can’t define what I’m after
I always turn the car around…”

This is the melancholy, angst-ridden me digging it.

The other is Natasha Bedingfield’s “Pocketful of Sunshine,” which asks someone to “Take me away…” and makes me smile every time I hear it; the tune is so catchy in spite of the lyrics being a little darker.

Ironically (or perhaps not so ironically) both are duelling one another in my head, speaking to me on different levels.

Like it is for so many people, music has always been an escape for me.

Though I don’t have an ear for music like my dad or brother (both of whom can hear any song and within a minute, play it on the guitar or piano) … and though my sister and I have both inherited the same lovely tonedeaf singing voices that we get from our mom … I love music.

And songs that have meaning stick with me and I’ll always have connotations about them. They remind me of people, of places, of things, and of my history and how I’ve changed over the years.

For example, Sting, the Allman Brothers, the Beatles, Eddie Rabbit, Pink Floyd, Peter Gabriel … all remind me of my dad. I can still picture us dancing together in our living room on Saturday afternoons; when I was small, I’d dance on his feet, swaying to the music. (We danced to “Sweet Melissa” at my wedding).

When I got older, my siblings and I would “put on shows” on the stage my dad built and (I’m not kidding here!) charge our parents to watch us dance or roller-skate around our basement to “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” “Circle in the Sand,” and “Eternal Flame.”

Early ’90s techno like “Be My Lover,” “Boom Boom Boom,” and “This is Your Night” remind me of creating cheerleading routines with my best friend for the middle-school squad we coached, and dancing at the under-18 club in town on Friday nights.

Anything by New Kids on the Block or Ace of Base reminds me of my other best friend from high school; of easy times where we did Karaoke in our bedrooms and recorded ourselves during sleepovers, with not a care in the world.

And even though it was also my senior prom song, I still can’t hear Sarah Maclachlan’s “I Will Remember You” without thinking of the boy who broke my heart freshman year of college; it was a song he’d shared with me.

Indigo Girls remind me of living in my college dorm, blasting and singing “Ghost,” “Galileo” and “Romeo and Juliet” til we were blue in the face. (Same with Dixie Chicks, Sara Evans, and Bare Naked Ladies).

Or, “Seasons of Love” from RENT. That was another college staple and one that reminds me, like BNL, of my dear friend Jason.

Back when I lived in Buenos Aires during the fall semester of my junior year, I used to listen to my two-disc Dave Matthews Band w/ Tim Reynolds Live at Luther College on repeat play on the bus on my way to and from the university.

I’d drown out the sounds of Spanish around me, listening to my favorites like “No. 41″ and “Typical Situation.” Sometimes when I felt really homesick or nostalgic, I would close my eyes on my bed and listen to it in my host family’s house. Or go for long walks with my Walkman.

And then I met my husband, and though we have a shared love of Spanish rock/pop, “One Year of Love” by Queen became “our song.” One night when I was visiting him in El Salvador that first year we were apart, he put it on and asked me to slow dance with him and, wrapped in his arms, I just fell in love with the lyrics … and re-fell in love with him.

We danced to it at our wedding as our first couple dance, and it was like we were alone in the world, just the two of us on an island… yet we felt the heat and love from everyone around us, sheltering us, adoring us, in our little nook. It was nothing short of magical.

Music makes us feel good, takes us away, to another place. It helps me remember the past and look to the future with optimism.

And, like a good book, for just a few minutes, I can forget what I’m feeling.

How about you? How has music influenced your life? What songs stick out in your mind as defining you?

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