“The problem with reality is the lack of background music.” Anon
Okay, maybe the title overstates it a wee bit, but let me ask a question. When you hear a song from the past, does it take you down memory lane? Can you picture exactly where you were or what you were doing when you first heard it? I thought so. That’s why, whether you rewind or forward, whether a song is happy or sad, music is the soundtrack of life. And life is what I need to focus on this week.
This weekend marks the 2nd anniversary of my music man’s death, and it would be all too easy to sing the blues. But knowing how adamant he was about not dwelling on the past or the negative, I’ll try to change the tune — without rewriting the song.
I can still hear my high school friend, Patty, and I loudly singing “He’s so fine, wish he was mine . . . doo lang, doo lang, doo lang” for whichever awkward heartthrob we pined for at the moment. My single days saw me rocking with gusto and gal pals to my fave, Don Henley’s song “All She wants to do is Dance”. Through the years there were many “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant” and though I wasn’t “Desperado” to jump into marriage again, someone snuck in who loved music as much as I do. And though I was more the lyrics fanatic, and he was more the singer of them, we both had music in the blood and we blissfully sung our hearts out. Maybe that’s why we never saw the train coming, but that was just as well. From opening night on, our bittersweet musical needed all the harmony we could muster.
“Once there was a time, like no other time before, hope was still an open door” Jekyll & Hyde
Hearing music in everything is what helps get you through all the times of your life, no matter how the rhythm changes. It can calm anxiety, help lull you to sleep, express feelings and fuel creativity. Like music, life is a series of high and low notes and it needs both to be complete. Song reflects the times of your life and give them context. The songs that have touched me most, the music that made me dance, cry and sing, they are the playlist of my life.
Didn’t we come together, didn’t we live together
Didn’t we cry together
Didn’t we play together, didn’t we love together
And together we lit up the world
Now and Forever – Carole King
Lest you think only the lyrics that were deep and meaningful jazzed us, we both were also hardwired with nutty. Offbeat humor and a sense of fun (or crazy) not only drew us together but kept us sane through thick and thin. I can’t count how many times I snuck up on my guy, especially in low moments, trilling Billy Joel (my all time fav) in his ear which never failed to make him laugh.
“You may be right, I may be crazy — but it just may be a lunatic you’re looking for.” Billy Joel
After my music man died, I found an audio clip that captured him singing “Lovin’ nobody but you” in a falsetto. It was barely 2 seconds long but it makes me grin every time I hear it, which is often since it’s now my computer mail alert. No matter how big or small, happy or sad the sound byte, the remembrance of musical moments that stitched together our lives are priceless.
Broadway was special and an almost non-negotiable must-do for both of us. The guy who sat next to me through so many forays to the theater, wasn’t just pacifying a wife’s yen for it. Looking over at him, I’d often see the sheer beauty of the music alive in his face. I suspect that many times he pictured himself, community theater performer that he was, in many of the roles. That would also explain why more than a few of those songs found their way into his shower arias.
Music is the language of the universe and of love. It’s ancient, can be sacred and is what feelings sound like. It brings people together, soothes the mind, creates mood and makes you feel emotion. Why else would our hearts have beats? Our playlist tells a story of who we are and what makes us tick. It can be our escape or our salvation, carry us back in time or incite us to dance in the moment. We each have our own diversely flavored muzak track that surprise, inspires and accompanies the ups and downs of our lives.
They say that when words fail, music speaks. It can remind you of moments, happy and sad, melancholy and exhuberant. Music can make you forget everything, but even when the noise of the missing can drown out the notes, I prefer to remember them all. Sometimes, like on this 2nd anniversary weekend, the notes may bring some, even a lot of tears but they often bring the sweetness of memories, too. And why not? My husband may have left the building but while he was here, he lived in the music — and always will.
Play it again, Sam.