Ok, so now that you have that 90s Madonna jam stuck in your head, let’s talk about music!!! I have been revelling in some old school jams of mine for a few weeks now and it is like a new part of who I am has come alive. Actually, it’s like an old version of me, met the new (and more awesome) version of me and opened my eyes to music all over again!
One of the things I love about music is the ability to be transported to a specific place, time, smell, touch, memory. And, in each note, thumping beat and guitar solo, you can feel that memory with your entire being.
I can hear the notes of Chantal Kreviazuk singing “Surrounded” and I am in my university dorm TV Lounge watching Dawson’s Creek, with 10 of my closest friends. We are waxing poetic about the boys in our lives. The tumultuous nature of being late teen, 90s kids oozing out of our late night talks of philosophy, politics, religion and boys. It was never really about the guys, but it was always about our camaraderie, growing up and shared experiences. Recently, I was binge watching some episodes of Dawson’s on Hulu and this song came on and BAM, it all flooded back. It was amazing to be there in that moment again, in my heart and soul I could feel everything that was great about it. I was awoken in a part of my heart and head that had put a lot of “that girl” away for safe keeping.
This prompted me to think about the power of music to heal, move, enlighten and bond us together as friends, family, community and humanity. Ironically, this was all coming to me just as this years Grammy Awards was coming on and Alicia Keys spoke so eloquently about the power of music, flanked by powerful women in the entertainment industry and it really spoke to me.
Music helps us share ourselves, our dignities and sorrows, our hopes and our joys. It allows us to hear one another, to invite each other in. Music shows us that all of it matters, every story, every note, within every song.Michelle Obama, 2019 Grammy Awards
I have been able to use music to be the “storyteller” of many an era in my life. My most poignant moments, flanked by a soundtrack of songs that truly allowed me to let people in; to feel my joy and to feel my pain.
When my husband and I got married, I was a bit of a Bridezilla when it came to our “songs”. I had some very specific instructions on songs that needed to be played and even a few that needed to be avoided. I put so much time and care into the soundtrack of our wedding so people could be even more in the moment with us than just watching. It had to be a combination of playful, but wrought with emotion. I chose to dance to “My Girl” with my dad, because I felt it was fun and spoke to the nature of our relationship, which hasn’t always been easy, but I never forgot that I was his little girl, always. I chose a Hedley song called “Old School” for the bridal party dance because it really spoke to the core of friendships and the “good ol days”. But, the most memorable soundtrack moment came when the DJ started playing the wrong song for the Father/Mother dance and this Bride, well she full on stood up, walked mid dance floor and yelled cut to the DJ and promptly told him to fix his mistake so the proverbial show could go on. Girl don’t mess around when it comes to those moments.
Then came the painful moments. The inconceivable heartbreak of having to plan a memorial service for the loss of our Addison. I felt powerless, grief stricken and there was little I could do without being in physical or emotional anguish. But, while my brave and amazing husband made funeral arrangements for his baby girl, I threw myself into planning the readings and music for her ceremony. It was what I needed to do to help my heart heal. It was the only way I felt people could even begin to understand our feelings and heartbreak. To this day, I cannot listen to Billy Joel’s “Lullaby” without sobbing uncontrollably. And it was probably 6 years before I could hear “When you Wish Upon A Star” without feeling a pit in my stomach. During that ceremony, there is little I remember. But I do know, with out a doubt, I felt we had been able to celebrate her, say goodbye and express our grief through the readings we chose to have read, and the music we chose to play.
As I sit here writing this I can think of so many songs that are “transporters” for me. If I hear the initial “high hat” from “ICE ICE Baby”, I am 18 and in Windsor, England on a class trip, having a pint and once the hops hit me, I am convinced I am the coolest of White girl rappers ever and singing every word loudly and proudly!
Give me the piano riff and harmonica at the beginning of Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” and I am at St.FX listening to a live band, at a ‘Super Sub’, waiving drink tickets and telling my friends ‘I love you guys’ while we clumsily sang/yelled every word passionately and full of life! Revelling in the moment and trying to soak it all in!
Play me “Ain’t Seen Nothin Yet” by BTO and I am full of giggles, laughing hysterically with my mom about the back story of the song and making memories together!
Play me, Maroon 5’s “She Will be Loved” and I am at the Youth Centre, singing Karaoke with friends and knowing in that moment that my boyfriend (and now husband) was beyond words in love with me as he sang it to me, a little off key, but with his whole heart.
If I hear the Glee Cast version of “Rollin’ on the River” Im at a private 3D ultrasound centre seeing my baby girl (Ava) on the monitor rolling around in my uterus, dancing her way into my heart.
When the bass line of Uptown Funk starts to pump through my speakers, I can see my 3 year old Mackinley dancing in her car seat, singing along with out a care in the world and loving every minute of it!
I could go on and on and on. But the point is, music movies us. It adheres us to a place, time, person, space. It gives us the power to feel. It can help us cry through heartbreak, rage through the anger and speak to our power. It can be the conduit for us to ‘dance it out’ when things are hard and it can be the joy in our hearts, that we can’t quite verbalize on our own.
So, the next time Beyonce’s “Crazy In Love” comes on and it makes you strut your amazing self down a hallway, own the power it gives you and work it! I know I will!
Where words fail, music speaks.Hans Christian Andersen