Play It Again, Sam

One of my favorite songs is one that every time I listen to it, without exception, it pulls at my heart. I heard it first as a child, now it lives on my iPod where it is readily available. There are times while writing, when I need to feel sad, and Wildfire by Michael Murphey, accomplishes that goal. 

The melodic sensitivity of the song sweeps across my mind, and immediately makes me feel a bit lighter, not with joy, but with sadness. Even though the song can easily bring a tear to my eye, it still manages to be a favorite. Mr. Bojangles runs a close second to Wildfire in the sadness department, but it doesn’t sound nor feel as beautiful. In both, the melody hurts, but not as much as the words. In one, a horse breaks loose during a terrible winter storm, in the other, a nomadic man loses his sole companion – his dog.

Music moves the soul and mind. Animals don’t seem to need this type of soulful connection, perhaps because they never get disconnected in the first place. I have to wonder why we do. A song has the ability to change our outlook, and the expression on our face. A song can make us amorous, or make us angry. It can also cause us to get into trouble with the law. Although I doubt there has ever been an official study on the subject, I feel quite certain that upon seeing flashing lights in one’s rear view mirror, the vast majority turns down the radio. I can still recall the excitement of playing a special song for my mother, just to watch as she nodded with appreciation. It was obvious with one glance that she didn’t get it, like I did. That song was: Dirty Laundry by Don Henley, back in 1982. She didn’t seem to click into it like I did. For the most part, no one clicks in to a song the way we do. Music is a very personal thing. Oftentimes we connect with a song so innately, even we, cannot explain why it makes us feel the way it does – it just does.

A certain song resonated with me so deeply it was the catalyst that prompted me to flip open the lap top and start writing. And during those four weeks of nonstop writing, not a moment went by wherein my iPod ear buds were not cradled into my ears. The songs that moved through my mind created not only a buffer, allowing me to shut out my normal stream of thoughts, but also a portal, giving me access to a deeper part of myself. For me, music, has an almost spiritual essence. When I listen to the right song, I once again acknowledge my own spirituality.

Music can move us to take a stand, push for our rights, or just pick a fight with the guy standing next to us. The right song can convince us that we are in love. And the right song can magically propel our footsteps while on the treadmill. For many of us, these songs, accumulated over many decades, becomes the soundtrack of our lives. I can gauge my level of depression by the music I’m choosing, or when its most severe – by the fact that I no longer choose music at all. 

The line from the song that moved me three years ago, was: lately I’ve been living in my head, the rest of me is dead, I’m dying for truth. I know why that line spoke to me in the way it did. And I will never be able to, nor will I ever try, to explain it to anyone. That line may have had an entirely different meaning when written, but for me it served as a life-preserver that was thrown into some very dark waters.

I wouldn’t want to live in a world void of music. Music in many ways, is my church. It is that sacred place I step into and while there, I reconnect with all that is, and all that is yet to be.


Originally posted on 11/21/11

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