And the music, God, I swear there has to be something about the music when heartache comes to town. Somehow, in some crazy way, out of nowhere and in the random deep moments, the most painfully sad song comes on the radio to signify the moment and capitalize the pain. You feel every note that plays. And every word to each part of the lyrics coincides with everything that beats in your heart.
I have a few of these songs myself. They are songs that fit themselves in a time line, so-to-speak, and they linger in the memory banks where hard times live. And sometimes, almost randomly, a song comes on the radio like an anthem of the past. I hear the music and I remember things like sitting in an empty apartment all alone while packing up the previously painful chapters of my life and wondering, “How they hell do I let this all go?”.
In the same regard, however, there are also songs in my mental catalog that act as anthems of hope. And I hear them and I feel them, and it’s like, “God, yeah,” when I listen to the lyrics or feel the chords of strings that play from the guitars.
I swear music has incredible, magical powers, and sometimes, all you need to do is find the right song. All you need is the kind of song that makes you think back to the time when Mom did spring cleaning in the house during the first warm day of the season. She opened the window and let the fresh air in, and all of a sudden, “Ah,” it’s all just good.
I remember sitting in my room as a kid. I was a teenager and first learning about the powers behind music. I had posters on my wall. some of them were made of glow in the dark colors and black felt. I had colored psychedelic lights that twirled around the room. I had a stereo with big speakers on the top of my dresser drawer. I had little decorations around the room that matched me style. I a poster of Hendrix on my wall too. I had a tapestry of Jim Morrison over one of my windows. I had a few albums by Zeppelin and I recall listening to a song called, “In The Light.” while trying to coerce one of my earlier sexual experiences.
Mainly, I listened to louder, fast, and aggressive music when I was out with my friends. But alone, I was fine to hear something soft and comfortable to enjoy the sounds of my own choice. I liked music that somehow played notes that related to how I felt. I loved the sounds. I loved the lyrics. I loved it all.
I think we all have our own personal soundtrack that details the different phases of our past. I certainly do.
I know I have a memory of me sitting alone during the sunset, young and afraid of what was about to come next. I sat with a smoke in hand; a Camel filter poked between my pointer and middle finger with grayish white smoke lifting upwards to the sky during the warmth of a summer’s sunset. The sky was all orange and red, stretched as far as the eye could see. The tree branches and the leaves in the yard swayed gently, almost looking black and dark because they were overrun by the colors radiating from the sunset in the sky. I was longhaired and crazy and somewhere in my 20’s, thinking about the ideas of my next step, and wondering about my downtown memories. I wondered if I would ever be able to pen my words to a page well enough to ever be understood. I was listening to Floyd at the time, The Dark Side of the Moon, to be exact.
I remember that although my thoughts were laced with a touch of melancholic residue; there was also hope. There was something in the music that triggered a sensation in me. I was alive. I was real. I was in pain but I was also hopeful enough to heal because I knew somehow; something was about to change.
I have always been a fan of instrumental music. In times when no words were necessary, the music played on and helped me to purge my thoughts and free the feelings that were otherwise trapped in me or stagnant in my head.
I have always wondered why love songs come on at the right time. I have often wondered if this was the work of the universe and the music gods. I wonder this because the timing is impeccable when the songs play—it’s like someone out there knows, and suddenly, the emotion isn’t quite so lonely anymore. Suddenly, the feeling is more orchestrated now with lyrics and sound, which is why I have always said that sound is what gives our memory a sense of depth.
For example, each time I hear Van Morrison’s Brown Eyed Girl, I always link back to the memories of Island Park and crazy summer nights at the bars on the waterfront like Paddy McGee’s.
Brown Eyed Girl was a late night song that commonly came on the jukebox after the midnight hour. I remember the faces in the crowd and where we all used to gather in the corner. I remember thinking how we would always be young and we would always be friends.
We heard songs from Steely Dan and The Doobie Brothers. And sometimes, I would walk away from the crowds at the bar. I would walk off down to the end of the pier to watch the moonlight weave in the rippling waves in the canal. God, it was amazing to be young. I was filled with so many different emotions.
I swear music has a way of embedding in our minds. Even the shows we used to watch and their opening theme songs, regardless to how bad corny the television show was; admittedly, I had a few of my own shows which somehow, coincided with my life at the time. One of which was corny as ever, Dawson’s creek, but yet it somehow fit the time in a way with things that were pertinent to my life.
I have a show that I link with my daughter too. I seldom speak about it. I just remember the last episode of a show we would watch and how sad I felt because it brought me to the realization that my little girl will not always be little.
One day, she will grow older. Someday, she will form her own opinion, and eventually, she might give in to the sway of an opposite source without understanding (or caring) about my side of the story. But this is what happens with divorce.
And I get that.
I am grown now. I am older than I was for sure. I am older than I was and smarter in some ways. My heart is still and always will be a ball full of feelings with good memories and some that sting. I will always have these soundtracks in my mind and I will always regard music as the universe’s magic, which we listen to, and we feel.
Every so often, the technology gods push up a song on my cue—and I wonder how the music gods know. I wonder why the songs play, and in fairness, there are times when I think this is a cruel joke —and somewhere, there is someone sitting in a tiny control room laughing about the emotions they stir up in people.
But the music, God, I swear it does something to us
I know it does