Image Source: Baeble Music
I cannot let go of the song. I hear off-beats and syncopation in the metronomic click of the turn signal, and fill the spaces tapping on the steering wheel. An air-conditioner unit thrums on the street and I hear harmonies and counterpoint. The bells of the church ring and the overtones are out of tune and I cringe. I have studied and lived the music my whole life through listening and playing. I am conduit and grateful receiver.
The cloth of my childhood is patchwork record covers. Simon & Garfunkle, Barry Manilow, Joan Baez, Elvis, The Monkees, The Beach Boys, The Crew Cuts, Beethoven, The Carpenters, The Bee Gees, Star Wars, Saturday Night Fever, John Denver and The Muppets, K*Tel disco compilations, AC/DC, Ozzy, Van Halen, all obsessed over and absorbed like nutrients.
Grade school added a layer of metal and punk rock: Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, The Dead Kennedys, The Ramones. My first guitar at age 11, and hours and hours playing records and learning how to play. Passion charging from my soul to my fingertips. Big, rich, melodic sounds on the radio: The Cars, Journey, Madonna.
High school brought CD covers and a return to the underground: Smithereens, The Smiths, The Cure, Hoodoo Gurus, The Replacements. College found me studying jazz: Bird & Diz, Coltrane, Miles, Hawk and Newk. Every day since has found me loving all of the above.
“Logic” dictates that when one grows up and discovers classical, jazz, talk radio or Adult Contemporary, one puts aside the music of youth. I’ve never bought that, and I’ve never practiced it. I have changed tremendously, but the Alvin & The Chipmunks or Gordon Lightfoot or Black Flag record I loved when I was a kid has NOT changed. And it remains as critical and influential as it once was. So why not add Adult Contemporary to my repertoire, rather than abandoning aural pleasure?
I can’t let go of my past, nor do I want to. And I am better for it.
I cannot let go of the song. The records of my youth, the CDs of my developmental years, the MP3s of my adult years all weave a sonic narrative through my life. Every note is still there, informing my every move. Every memory has a soundtrack.
I walk down the hall at work to the beat of a song I heard when I was five. I drive toward sunsets that trigger sunsets and songs from when I was ten. My studies allow me to recognize the 12 notes used by (insert modern star here) as the same 12 notes used by The Beatles and the same 12 notes used by Woodie Guthrie and the same 12 notes used by Louis Armstrong and the same 12 notes used by Bach.
Trace the lineage, count the rings on the stump. It’s all there in my mind and heart. I have studied and lived the music my whole life through listening and playing. I am conduit, receiver and giver of the eternal song.