Friday, February 29, 2008

music is my oxygen

sometimes i wonder to myself what my life would be like if i didn't love music in the way that i do. if songs were just something that played in the background, or was the source of mindless sound. what if i was not moved so deeply by a lyrical refrain, or a particular chord change. who would i be then? would i still consider myself a writer? would my emotions ebb and flow the same way? would i have the same friends? would i be a mother? a wife?

i try to think back to a time where music was not a part of my life and i come back completely blank. from my earliest memories there is music embedded in them. from the songs my mother sang in the kitchen, or in the car while she shuttled the kids in her carpool to and from school. the songs that i somehow attached to made up ideas of my father, put together as a soundtrack from albums that i would find in my mother's collection that i knew she never played, assuming they must have been his.

the contents of countless mixed tapes gave language to words i never could quite speak, especially when i was the shy girl who was far too filled with insecurities to tell people exactly how i felt, or what i dreamed of. the stories i made up in my head while driving in my first car, how the music helped bring them to life, becoming my muse, and my inspiration. even the pages of my adolescent journals, cringe-worthy and melodramatic prose about forgettable crushes, it was the music that would spin on my record player that became the soundtrack of those yellowing pages.

even now, i lose and find myself in shuffle on my music player. i fall for albums, lyrics, singers, songwriters and bands. some more than others, the ones that make a mark on my soul, and become part of a collection that i often believe i will carry with me always. those key songs that i would slip into a time capsule, or take along on that proverbial desert island mix. conversations on music are the ones i treasure, and are the core to connection that i share with the dearest of people i meet in this life. i have a hard time fathoming not feeling this way, and ever truly understanding a person who is unmoved by a song.

i don't really care what genre of music you choose to relate to. i've never been able to be one of those music snobs that turn my nose up at someone's love of music, even if it isn't something i find a connection to. and, i have never been satisfied with hearing only one kind of music. one of my most dreaded questions is when someone asks me "what kind of music do you like?" i'm ever tempted to answer with "how long do you have?" or with a frustrated shrug of my shoulders and a "how can i possibly answer that?"

there is always a new song to discover, and ever an album near forgotten to get re-acquainted with. a stumbled upon song that you find yourself singing along to, even though years and years have passed since you last heard it. or, every once in awhile, a song you already know, though you swear you've never heard it before. perhaps they are the tunes i heard when i was a wee child, or even those in-utero albums my mother (and yes, probably my father) played in that tiny house we first called home. it was on charlotte drive, around the corner from my grandfather's welding shop, the one that had the soda machine that sold glass bottles of coca-cola.

i wonder how my children will feel about music as they grow. i know max has rhythm in his blood, an uncanny knack for beats and timing. and veronica, she prefers music she can spin around to, ballerina music that julia finds for her on one of those stations on our cable television, the classical one. she also seems to love the music david plays in the car when they drive together. i remember one afternoon when we were off to somewhere, and i caught her sweet little girl voice singing along to sufjan stevens chicago. and julia, well she seems to have inherited my obsession with music, though much of her taste seems closer to david's.

maybe they will recall songs that were my favorites when they are all grown up. they will hear them and remember moments we shared, or places we've lived, or travelled to. i wonder what songs will remind them of being small, which ones will recall their first loves, first kisses, first heartbreak. and i wonder what songs will move me when i grow old, when i slow down, when i have grandchildren of my own, and boxes of memories.


  1. I have my iPod constantly playing at my desk during the work day. It actually helps me be more productive.

    I hung around with a guy for a time and he never expressed any interest in music. I found out later that he 'just didn't like music'. I was floored by that and I think it explained his entire lack of passion and personality.

    How can you not like music of any kind?

  2. i just can't fathrom not liking music. at all.

    and yes, i am the same way. i have my itunes on shuffle and my ear buds in all day at work. i am more productive, completely. a week or so back my ear buds broke (eaten by my kitten) and i could not sort out, at first, why i felt so distracted and had to push to concentrate. it was from the lack of music.

  3. I know people who don't pay attention to music. It's like they know what they know, if they hear something new cool, but they don't seek it out. I can't fathom that existence. I really can't. I can't even comprehend what that must be like. I was in a bar with some friends, and I started talking about why the music choice in the bar was great, and they all just sort of looked at me as if to say, "So what? We're just talking, what does the music matter?" It was very frustrating.

  4. Being one moved bymusic andwords I cannot fathom not having either in my life. And redhairedgirl: would make my experience in a bar good or bad by what music was playing. Would still enjoy the company ifthe music was shit, but would want tostay longer, throw back more and enjoy the company even more if the music was good. Have chosen a pub with lousy drinks for the music before.

    Luce: Cannot imagine you not loving music the wayyoudo.


  5. I'm the same as you - I can't imagine notl iking music passionately - what do those people DO with their time? I also don't care what kind of music fires someone up as long as it, you know, does.