We Listen to Music

One of the Princess’ friends made a comment to her that we always have the music on – at home, in the car, everywhere we go. And we do – we always have music on (unless we have the news, sports, or our favorite shows on tv going).  We listen to all kinds of music. If you put my iPod on total shuffle, you’ll hear everything from video game music to movie soundtracks, classical to hip hop,  Broadway to ballet music,  country to Christian,  gangsta rap to the Brat Pack, and Pop to hard/hair band rock.

I learned an appreciation for music basically from birth. My family always had music on, as well as my godmother/babysitter/second mom. I grew up to a varied soundtrack. We knew when the music turned on every Saturday morning. that was our cue to start our chores. We heard Neil Diamond and Elvis mostly, but also my mom’s favorite old-school, twangy country music, and the old standards for my dad – Frank Sinatra, Johnny Mathis, and Nat King Cole. In the car, out by the pool, camping trips, on the boat – music was always on. From my godmother – a bit younger than my parents – I gained an introduction to the Beatles, Peter, Paul & Mary, and whatever was contemporary at the time. My godmother also took us to church every Sunday. I sang in the youth choir, learned all those good Lutheran hymns, and all our VBS/Sunday School songs, which we loved (at that young age) to belt out in the car, and around her house. My brother, four years older than I, started listening to his own music in middle school, and we’re talking late 70’s/early 80’s, so disco, Journey, KISS, Styx, Queen, Abba, Boston, Kansas, and the Eagles were added to my life soundtrack. I think I got my first PlaySchool plastic record player when I was about four. My first album was Peaches & Herb (that’s a little terrifying), followed by the Grease soundtrack, Andy Gibb, Sean Cassidy, and Donny Osmond (no jokes regarding my age, please!).

High School brought a new soundtrack, but the music definitely continued to play, all the time. INXS, Prince, Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson, Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, and The Time take me back to dances in the cafeteria after football games. I can almost feel the cool fall night air, remember clearly sitting on the benches outside the cafeteria where we talked with our friends and waited to be asked to dance by that certain someone who’d caught our eye that week/month. Chicago always reminds me of hanging out by the pool of my best friend’s neighbor, or sitting in her room doing homework. Janet Jackson’s Control and Run DMC’s You Be Illin have me dancing cheer routines from Homecoming and Hoopla. Beastie Boys takes me back to being on the bus to basketball games – Funny how you can remember the lyrics to every song on one particular album, including the order the songs were in, 30 years later, but can’t remember what you ate for lunch three hours ago. Paul Revere anyone? Fight for Your Right? Girls? Oh  yeah…..And don’t even get me started on the soundtracks to Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink, and Breakfast Club. Sigh…Jake Ryan and Blane….mmmmmmmm…..

My college soundtrack covered the end of the 80’s and the beginning of the 90’s. I went from the scene in Santa Barbara – Oingo Boingo, UB40, the Cure, and U2 – to the Central Valley of CA and hip hop/dance music including MC Hammer, Vanilla Ice, Kriss Kross, and Color Me Badd. I spent hours driving to and from Santa Barbara listening to Kylie Minogue, Amy Grant, Michael  W Smith, and Debby Gibson.

Nearly every relationship has a playlist. Every single time I hear The Outfield, I’m once again riding in my first boyfriend’s truck (or his daddy’s Porsche, but that’s another story for another day). Garth Brook’s Friends in Low Places comes on and I’m at one of many college parties, with some awful memories attached to that particular disastrous relationship – but I still love that song. LL Cool J and Jodeci play, and I’m in J’s truck driving to our first vacation together in Tahoe. (It seems I dated a few boys who drove trucks) Color Me Badd songs remind me of following my end-of-and-just-out-of-college boyfriend to Chico for the baseball team’s games, and some of the ball players doing a crazy-good job of lip-syncing and dancing in some bar there.

Everyone who’s had someone has also lost someone. I have my sad break-up songs, my angry break-up songs, my revenge music.

Then there’s Spouse. We have our own soundtrack, and it’s pretty long. We met in a country bar, so that genre has always been part of us. Garth Brooks played at our wedding, as did Clay Walker, and Shania Twain. We also both love to dance, so any pop/dance music from the last twenty years goes on our soundtrack too. Loving, and actually being able to dance was one of my top requirements for the man I would spend my  life with. Spouse qualifies.

I have my own playlists for each of them. For Big Man, there are the songs that remind me of driving to and from the NICU – He’s My Son, and Creed’s Arms Wide Open. Wake Me Up When September Ends will always, always make me cry,  because it takes me back to that month – the month he was born, the month I lost everything I dreamed of when I got pregnant with him, and gained a tiny, two-pound, fragile, miracle of a child. For P, our only girl, My Little Girl, I Loved Her First, and Slipping Through My Fingers will remind us how quickly she’s growing up, that someday she’ll belong to someone else. I hear Nutcracker music, or any of the songs she’s danced solos to, and I can see her dancing in my head. Taylor Swift reminds me of the concerts we’ve gone to, For Good from Wicked reminds me of singing in the car with her (which we do a lot). I’m watching my kids develop their personal life-soundtracks now too. P is already planning the playlist for her Sweet Sixteen party, and I’m sure she will carry those songs with her for the rest of her life, as a captured memory of that night.

One of my FB memories the other day was when Little Man was little, and was singing Sexy Back loudly from his carseat in the second row of my SUV. Not embarrassing at all to pull up at a light, windows open, and your toddler is singing about bringing sexy back. Mother of the Year.

We do listen to music, all the time. It can reflect a mood, improve a mood, or set a mood. Music is part of our family fabric. What’s on your life soundtrack?

And on the flip side, Hope Floats

I’ve written numerous times about songs taking me back to dark days, painful memories, difficult things faced, and often things I’d rather not revisit. On the flip side, there are songs that call to mind amazing days, beautiful love, things cherished.

The movie Hope Floats came out almost five months before Spouse and I were married. We’ve seen it at least a dozen times, and bought the soundtrack as soon as it came out. When it was time to choose wedding/reception music, we knew we wanted To Make You Feel My Love be part of our day. I’d never heard the original, sung by Bob Dylan. But the song spoke to us from the first time we heard it. In recent years, Lea Michele sang the song on The Quarterback episode of Glee, and Adele has a version on her 19 album.  I love them all, although I’m not super fond of the original. When Kris Allen sang it on American Idol, he quickly became my favorite that season. Now, I don’t care how ticked I might be at Spouse on any given day, if I hear that song, I remember why I love him, why I fell in love with him, and I tend to fall in love with him all over again.

He proposed to me with Garth Brooks’ Shameless playing in the background. That song tend to has the same effect as To Make You  Feel My Love.

When I heard Taylor Swift’s song Begin Again, it really struck a chord, because that’s how my relationship with Spouse made me feel in those early days. He wasn’t like anyone I’d dated before. Things I used to try to hide, because past boyfriends preferred a certain me, he actually appreciated and sought out in me. He gave me a safe place to really be me. He accepted/accepts me, even with all my crazy. Listen to the lyrics, or look them up. You’ll see what I mean.

I’m a car singer (and shower singer, and cooking singer, and cleaning singer…..). The kids became car singers too, although the boys rarely join in anymore. But I have sweet, hilarious memories of them singing along to Mamma Mia, Man I Feel Like a Woman, That Don’t Impress Me Much, Sexy Back, and What Goes Around Comes Around. As a side note, no I don’t censor  music much with my kids and never have. I have a Road Trip playlist with all kinds of songs we can sing along.

Music was part of my growing up. On Saturday mornings, when it was chore time, Neil Diamond, Elvis, or Johnny Mathis would be on in the background.  My kids wonder how I know so many “old people songs.” Hah! I treasure that music and the memories those songs carry with them.

So it’s not always bad or sad things which come to mind with certain songs. There are beautiful things, meaningful moments, the fabric of who I am wrapped up with music.

Wake me up…

I don’t know about you, but music has always played a large role in my life. There’s a soundtrack that seems to play through my days. The first notes of almost any song will bring back a memory, a feeling, a thought, an emotion.  Music takes me back,  through good and bad. Music from the 80’s makes me revisit high school – football games, the bus to and from basketball games, dances, crushes, heartbreak, singing at the top of our lungs as we drove to and from lunch, waiting up til midnight for premiers of music videos, summer camp, days by the pool, movies, Homecoming, wishes and dreams of a teenage girl. Songs of the early 90’s mean college and early career, trips to see Grandma, road trips to see the boyfriend, bash sessions with my brother and our unhappily single friends, baseball games, nights out after work. Later in the decade, music would connect me to the meeting of my husband, the passing of my grandmother, my wedding day, the hopes and dreams of a young woman.

When Big Man was born, I spent three months driving back and forth to his NICU over 45 minutes away, every single day. Now I’m not one to ever be in the car without music playing. A Mark Schultz CD played over and over as I prayed his lyrics for my son. A song by Creed brought me to my knees every time. Then in 2005, when Big Man was well out of the woods from his prematurity, but I continued to struggle with the guilt, the need to grieve his birth, and would go into a depression every September, came the song Wake Me Up When September Ends (Green Day), and the words seem to speak to me, of me. I can’t hear that song without thinking of that month, when innocence was lost, when grief, fear, and pain took hold. It said what I felt towards the end of August every year, dreading the memories I would wish to sleep through the month of September.

“Wake Me Up When September Ends”

Summer has come and passed
The innocent can never last
Wake me up when September ends

Like my father’s come to pass
Seven years has gone so fast
Wake me up when September ends

Here comes the rain again
Falling from the stars
Drenched in my pain again
Becoming who we are

As my memory rests
But never forgets what I lost
Wake me up when September ends

Summer has come and passed
The innocent can never last
Wake me up when September ends

Ring out the bells again
Like we did when spring began
Wake me up when September ends

Here comes the rain again
Falling from the stars
Drenched in my pain again
Becoming who we are

As my memory rests
But never forgets what I lost
Wake me up when September ends

Summer has come and passed
The innocent can never last
Wake me up when September ends

Like my father’s come to pass
Twenty years has gone so fast
Wake me up when September ends
Wake me up when September ends
Wake me up when September ends

I watched the video when it released. It had nothing to do with what I’d been through, and yet those words haunted me. I’ll never forget what I lost – the innocence of a pregnancy untouched by prematurity. Memories fade, time passes, healing happens, wounds scar over. But you never forget what was before, what happened, and how it changed you. Each year, I feel September coming. Even knowing our son is here, healthy, happy, walking around, I know what was, what could have very easily been. I remember being terrified, holding my breath every day I was in the hospital, praying with all my might. I remember the days sitting by his isolette, watching, waiting, hoping, praying, crying.  Even a perfectly amazing fourteen year old doesn’t take any of that away.
Why am I writing about this now? On the way home from taking Big Man to golf camp this morning, the sun was shining down on a perfectly beautiful morning. And then I heard the first notes of this song, and it all came flooding back. I wished, for a few minutes, music didn’t play any part in my life.