Monday, January 14, 2008


...or maybe schizophrenic is more apt? What a scattered collection of tunes.

This recent post from Cathy Zielske got me wondering what was on my own Top 25 list. I don't remember the last time I looked at it. Now that I've checked it out, it makes me smile. Music makes me so, so happy. (Live music makes me even happier...the louder, the better.) It is a simple joy.

What's on your Top 25 Most Played list? Take a look...see what it says to you about you and life and where you are and where you have been. It's an interesting study, I think. I can look at each song title on this iTunes list and almost every one brings to mind a specific memory that drove me to add it to my iPod to begin with. It's autobiographical. It's memoir in music.


Music is a form of memory for me. For instance, Cher's "Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves" will forever be embedded in my mind, as it was on one of the first two albums I ever owned, purchased for me by my parents for Christmas one year in junior high, along with my first stereo -- AM/FM, turn table, cassette player AND 8-track capable. (The other album they gave me that Christmas? Something by The Captain and Tennille. LOL How's that for musical dichotomy?)

I will always connect Dire Straits' "Skateaway" with the summer my dad was in the hospital having gall bladdar surgery, because I heard it on the radio so many times as my mom and I drove down to Shadyside to see him.

There will always be an angsty connection for me between The Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams," my senior year of high school and my then-boyfriend/later-briefly-married-to-husband.

Grateful Dead's "Ripple" has always, always made me cry. It not only reminds me of the tear-jerker movie Mask (hm, another Cher connection) that I've seen dozens of times, but it reminds me of a guy who I had been good friends with...we used to talk about all kinds of things together and had this connection to each other that I can't begin to explain even now. I've never had another friend like him. Only, later, this same guy came to like me just a little too much in a scary sort of way, and I had to make a choice to close him out of my life. It was the right thing to do. But the song still makes me cry.

Then there are songs I learned to play on the guitar. It was during a time when our oldest son was going through his own teenage angst. Relating to him was often dicey, but music often connected us. The year he was in 10th grade, he learned to play guitar. We both played for a while in a worship band at our church. Open the Eyes of My Heart was a song we often played, and even now when I hear it on Sunday morning, I can remember all of the parts, and how my son started it out on the bass and we all came in after him. It was the coolest thing. (There was another song whose name escapes me now that we all rearranged to play calypso style...that went over less well with the congregation at large. LOL) And even though it was "just" a church worship band, it was also cool that I was in it with my teenaged son. That group was a lot of fun. I have some really good memories there.

During that era, sometimes my son and I would sit down and he'd teach me bits of the songs he enjoyed. Earlier today, I had the urge to pick up my guitar after not playing it for a long time. My fingers had their own memories, letting me recall how to play (not well, mind you) the opening bars of Collective Soul's December. That simple thing stirred a particular joy in my heart, because as minor as that may seem, it was a connection between my son and me at a time when connecting wasn't always easy.

I'd like to think that music was, in the very beginning...God singing the world into existence, like Aslan does in The Magician's Nephew. Music is basic. It has meaning. It is full of life. Music can bring you home when you can't get there any other way. It can connect you to other people and other times. It can rip you open, and it can heal you. I cannot imagine life without it.

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