Posted by: pendrops | July 5, 2006

nothing but the music


Girl, put your records on.
Tell me your favorite song.
You go ahead, let your hair down.
– Corinne Bailey Rae

A few days ago, I took the day off work and did some of those things that you do only when you have an entire day to spend. Sleeping in, going to the library, a bit of reading, researching herbs, grilling out. In between staring out a library window and ordering a coconut rum truffle for lunch dessert, I began writing out some of my favorite song lyrics.

About two hours, ten pages, and dozens of teardrops into this project, I realized how much music has impacted my life. For every moment of my life, it seems there is a song to help me tell the story. And to help me always remember it.

Like the song “Honey and the Moon” with its sweet melody and haunting words, bringing me face to face with the early days of love and discovery with Jason:

But right now everything is turning blue
And right now the sun is trying to kill the moon
And right now I wish I could follow you
To the shores of freedom where no one lives
Freedom, run away tonight

Or “All I Want” taking me 14 years back (has it really been 14 years?) to my freshman year of high school and that adolescent search for who I was along with the dream of who I would become:

All I want is to feel this way
To be this close
To feel the same

And “Hand Me Down” reminding me every bump and curve on the Music City road I walked down for a few years:

Someday you’ll find yourself on a Bigtown Avenue
Gonna make you like the way they talk
When they’re talking to you
Gonna make you break out of your shell
Cause they tell you to
Gonna make you like the way they lie
Better than the truth
They’ll tell you everything you wanted someone else to say
They’re gonna break your heart

Or “Blue,” the lilting acoustic tune by an indie artist making the college circuit when I was at Bethel College, transporting me to my stint in St. Paul:

Everything is blue
Everything is light
I’m sailing on your smile

And I can’t forget Norah keeping me company all those commutes from Murfreesboro to Spring Hill:

This feeling I’m trying to fight
It’s dark and I think that
I would give anything
For you to shine down on me

And it was Harry Connick, Jr.’s version of “Stardust” that introduced me to the most captivating song I know. I would sit in my room for hours listening to him sing the 80-year-old standard and I’d sing along, trying to harmonize, but oftentimes belting it out an octave higher:

And now the purple dusk of twilight time
Steals across the meadows of my heart
High up in the sky the little stars climb
Always reminding me that we’re apart

Even though I was so young, I can still hear mom and dad’s rich harmony hanging in the air after they’d sing “My Jesus, I Love Thee”:

I love Thee for wearing the thorns on Thy brow
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now

Or how about “Why Georgia” and John Mayer’s wake-up call to my early-twenty-something life:

Don’t believe me when I say I’ve got it down…
Everything happens for a reason
Is no reason not to ask myself
Am I living it right?

And then there’s “At the Cross.” I was five or six and Grandma June’s sweet soprano sounded through the small Chalmers Street house with words of redemption and life:

At the cross, At the cross
Where I first saw the light
And the burden of my heart rolled away
It was there by faith I received my sight
And now I am happy all the day

Or “When We Dance,” the first song I listened to when I could finally recognized the value and beauty of “secular” music:

When we dance
Angels will run and hide their wings…
If I could break down these walls
And shout my name at Heaven’s gate
Take these hands and not destroy
The dark machinery of fate
Cathedrals are broken
Heaven’s no longer above
And Hell-fire’s a promise away
I’d still be saying, “I’m still in love,
I’m still in love,
I’m still in love.”

And then Train came in with a song that soothed my soul shortly after my move to Nashville as I fought intense homesickness for Peoria, my hometown:

So you’re tired of waking up on empty
Left to something that ain’t real
So you think a couple of familiar faces
Gonna turn it all around
You wanna be where they still pump your gas for you
Where they remember your name

Oh, but wait…there’s the song I sang at my senior year Variety Show, hushing the crowded auditorium of high schoolers and then bringing them to their feet:

But today I know Somebody
A special Somebody
Yes, One whom I can depend upon
That will be there when I’m needing
There when friends forsake me
I’m not all alone when troubles come
O, Jesus, when troubles come

And then there’s Bono singing to me, just like he sang that night I moved into my first apartment and out on my own:

Baby, slow down
The end is not as fun as the start
Please stay a child somewhere in your heart…
You are the first one of your kind
And you feel like no one before
You steal right under my door
I kneel ‘cause I want you some more
I want the lot of what you got
And I want nothing that you’re not
Everywhere you go you shout it
You don’t have to be shy about it

We all have these songs. Songs that help us tell our stories. That give our lives a soundtrack. Some are slow, some are fast, some are sad, some are strange. But whatever the tune, whatever the lyric, music breathes something into our lives that no other art form can. Music, quite simply, fills our ears and our souls with something beautiful that we can weave into the song of our own days.


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