In the story of my life there has been one constant – music. My parents forced me at young age to take piano lessons. My sister was gifted in playing piano and they thought I would be too. I hated the piano, I wanted to play drums.
I never did play any instruments, but I did love to sing. My grandmother would have me sing for her friends when I was a child and I loved it. I would sing Tomorrow from the play Annie. I can vividly remember standing at the piano while my Mom played the melody and I sang. I would sing my heart out. It was my own personal stage. I recently found an old picture of myself with my brother and his friends and my Mom on piano and we were all in mid-song. There I was, probably about seven years old, in the front with my mouth wide open, singing away. I do love being in the spotlight but unfortunately my singing career was short lived. I cannot sing well, at all. I’m bad, really bad. But I still sing, when I’m happy or sad, in my car or at home, while writing, cleaning, working, or for just no reason at all. Sometimes I’ll call my close friend and send her a recorded message of me singing. She always gets a laugh out of it, plus it lets her know I’m feeling really happy.
I love music, all kinds. My IPod is filled with pretty much every genre of music. I remember lyrics to songs, it’s quite uncanny. I have the ability to remember useless information and song lyrics. When I listen to music it’s all about the lyrics, their meaning, a snapshot into an artist’s soul and thoughts. A moment in time for me as well.
Music also represents something else important to me, a refuge. It saved my life. I went through something traumatic in my past that only a few people know about. I’m not ready to write about it or share it with the world, not yet. It could have broken me at the time and by all accounts it should have broken me, but it didn’t. During that time music was my refuge. Listening to lyrics, melodies, took me to another world. A place where I felt safe and distracted. And it still does.
There has been only one man in my life who has shared my taste in music, my ex-husband. When we merged households we merged music too. I remember one night he played all his favorites and then I played mine, we did that a lot during our marriage. We went to concerts together at small and large venues. I also remember when we were divorcing I frantically copied as many CDs as I could before he took them. Even as he was ripping my heart to shreds I knew I couldn’t bear to lose the music too.
I’ve had guys make light of what is on my IPod. My ex-fiancé would shake his head and say the one thing he could never buy for me is music. He once listened to Radiohead all day before I got home to try and figure out why I liked them. I give him credit for that and it actually makes me smile thinking about it. I had an Ex make me a CD of love songs – the most beautiful song on it is contemporary – Bruno Mars, Just the Way You Are (not to be confused with Billy Joel’s song of the same name, also beautiful). It is a gift I still cherish. I played Springsteen’s Born to Run album over and over. I did the same with The Clash and London Calling. I remember being on the boardwalk down the shore and winning any choice of album. I picked Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd – my parents were appalled. So many great songwriters – Prince, Elvis Costello, Robert Smith, Bob Dylan, David Byrne, Tom Waits, Morrissey, Eric Clapton, Stevie Wonder, David Bowie, the list goes on and on and on. Justin Timberlake brings my sexy back every time. I can go from listening to old school rap, to indie artists, to classic rock, to the sappiest of love songs, to bad and good 80s music, alternative, metal, pop, all just by turning on my IPod. But it always comes back to lyrics.
So many songs take me back to a place in time, happy times and heartbreaking times. Music still provides a refuge. I put on my headphones, or my car stereo, and blast the music. I sing away, sometimes crying, sometimes smiling, but always singing. It saves me, it heals me and it brings me to a place where I know I will be okay.
I posted below, in no particular order, a few of my favorite lyrics (not necessarily favorite songs), and the artist/band affiliated. My list would be too long if I wrote down every favorite. I would love to hear any of your favorites out there in the blogosphere. What speaks to you?
“But I opened my eyes and walked out the door and the clouds came tumbling down” – Ben Folds, Landed (I listen to this song over and over. I don’t know why but it just speaks to me)
“We’re just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after year” – Pink Floyd, Wish you Were Here (pretty much every lyric in this song can qualify as great as do so many of the band’s songs)
“Yeah, I don’t want to hurt, there’s so much in this world to make me bleed” – Pearl Jam, Just Breathe (so many great lyrics, so many great songs by Eddie Vedder, this is one of my favorites)
“I know someday you’ll have a beautiful life, I know you’ll be a star in somebody else’s sky
But why, why, why can’t it be, why can’t it be mine?” – Pearl Jam, Black (this hits me right in the heart when I am going through a breakup)
“I love you in a place where there’s no space or time, I love you for my life, you’re a friend of mine, and when my life is over, remember when we were together, we were alone and I was singing this song to you” – Donny Hathaway, A Song for You (probably my favorite love song lyrics of all time)
Before you read on I could list endless Springsteen songs but the two below are my favorite lyrics, but not necessarily favorite songs. Love him or hate him he is a great songwriter.
“You’ve got to learn to live with what you can’t rise above” – Bruce Springsteen, Tunnel of Love (yep, advice I need to remind myself of daily)
“Is a dream a lie when it don’t come true, or is it something worse?” – Bruce Springsteen, The River (the whole song is chock full of great lyrics)
“Words are blunt instruments, Words are a sawn off shotgun” – Radiohead, Jigsaw Falling into Place (I am a Radiohead junkie and words are my weapon of choice)
“Lately I, every time I try to lie down, Oh, my mind just gets away, I can’t even close my eyes now, between the big fish and ambition, and the lovers using words as ammunition, between the warped planks I been pacing and this impossible dream I’ve been chasing” – Amos Lee, Violin (one of my favorite newer indie artists, these lyrics mean more to me as I’ve started my journey as a creative writer/blogger)
“The storms are raging on the rollin’ sea, and on the highway of regrets, The winds of change are blowing wild and free, You ain’t seen nothin’ like me yet” – Bob Dylan, Make You Feel My Love (another one of my favorite love songs, Adele did a beautiful cover of it)
“But if I’ve done something wrong there’s no “ifs” and “buts” cause I love you just as much as I hate your guts” – Elvis Costello, Alibi (no explanation needed here why I love these lyrics)
“If only I’d thought of the right words, I could have held on to your heart, If only I’d thought of the right words, I wouldn’t be breaking apart all my pictures of you” – The Cure, Pictures of You (again The Cure has so many quotable songs, I know I picked an obvious one)
“Cause in this life things are much harder than in the after world, in this life you’re on your own” – Prince, Let’s Go Crazy (one of the best songwriters that ever lived)
“I come to you defenses down with the trust of a child” – Peter Gabriel, Red Rain (there is so much personal meaning behind these lyrics for me)
“But I won’t cry for yesterday, there’s an ordinary world, somehow I have to find. And as I try to make my way, to the ordinary world I will learn to survive” – Duran Duran, Ordinary World (again, considering my ups and downs in life, these lyrics speak volumes to me)
“But you can say baby, baby can I hold you tonight, maybe if I told you the right words, at the right time you’d be mine” – Tracy Chapman, Baby can I Hold You Tonight? (all of the lyrics in this song apply to my relationships and again the use of words)
“And you may ask yourself, well, how did I get here?” – Talking Heads, Once in a Lifetime (this lyric is a running joke between a great friend and I – we like to say this to each other, a lot)
Ok, I’ll probably just need to stop here now…