Musicality

Listening to music while driving is one of my favorite things to do. I’m a regular accompanist for Adele, Frank Sinatra, Pure Prairie League, Norah Jones, Journey, Frank Sinatra, Aretha Franklin, Marshall Tucker, Dylan LaBlanc, Neil Young, and The Indigo Girls. To me we sound pretty good together, but what do I know?

During one of these mobile mini-concerts, I realized that the songs on my playlist were time – travel conduits, instantly zooming me back to great memories of moments in time. Conjuring up a connection to a person, group of people, or peak experience turns a mundane errand like running to the grocery store – into time well spent.

Music does all that. It never fails to lift me up.

Here are some personally notable melodies, in loose chronological order:

You Are My Sunshine, Bicycle Built for Two, Sparrow in the Treetop, Take Me Out to the Ballgame, Erie Canal, and more…(My parents) – random and countless long car rides in the station wagon

Best of My Love (The Eagles) – silk-screening in junior high print shop

China Grove (The Doobie Brothers) – marching onto the field with the twirling squad for my first home football game

California Girls and Don’t Worry, Baby (The Beach Boys) – hometown summer carnivals

How Deep is Your Love? (The BeeGees) – making deliveries on my brothers’ paper route with my sister

Baker Street (Gerry Rafferty) – zipping down the parkway to the Jersey shore with high school girlfriends

Rosalita (Springsteen) – dancing on a rooftop in Morgantown, WV

Into the Night (Benny Mardones) – late night walks home from Sunnyside

Brown-eyed Girl (Van Morrison) – singing with friends in the back of a pick-up truck on a dirt road in rural Abaco, Bahamas

Already Gone (The Eagles) – Kawagama Lake camping trip with with friends, northern Ontario

You’re Just to Good to Be True (Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons) – dancing with my husband on our wedding day

Here Comes the Sun (George Harrison) – winter solstice celebrations with neighbors

Just One Look (Linda Ronstadt) – kitchen clean-up dance at Lake Placid with lifetime friends.

And the following songs remind me especially of my kids:

I Am Light (India Arie) – for my daughter, Joy

Bennie and the Jets (Elton John) – for my son, Ben

Fly Me to the Moon (Frank Sinatra) – for my son, Luke

There is so much more music both before and after these snapshot memories because to me, the music never ends.

I wonder –

what are the songs you live by?

Mandatory Music

On the eve of my penultimate slice, it occurred to my that I never sliced about one thing that has remained a constant source of joy throughout life and challenging times.

Music.

Consistently uplifting, always enhancing, oft preferred over talking – good music makes everything better.

I can do chores for hours unscathed if I’ve got the “Awesome Road Trip” playlist on. I can clean out a closet, wash windows, or pack away summer clothes for the upcoming winter (worst job ever) as long as I’m listening to favorite tunes – and singing along, of course.

Doing the dishes becomes fun.

Folding laundry? Voila!

I almost don’t want it to end when accompanied by my favorite artists on the job.

And driving? Forget about it!

Below are some of my current favorites. My playlist is in perpetual rotation with selections being deleted and added as preferred. Keep in mind that I was a child of the sixties and seventies, so these choices may not be to everyone’s enjoyment. I will say however, that my tastes dip into many genres, and even my young-adult offspring admit to liking my Spotify playlist.

I humbly claim to have expanded their musical purviews considerably.

Although challenging to narrow down the choices, for the sake of brevity I managed. Here are my current top ten choices from my “Awesome Road Trip” playlist, in random order:

  1. Don’t Know Why – Nora Jones
  2. Redemption Song – Bob Marley and the Wailers
  3. Harvest Moon – Neil Young
  4. I Say a Little Prayer – Aretha Franklin
  5. Just One Look – Linda Rondstadt
  6. I’m Yours – Jason Mraz
  7. The Wood Song – Indigo Girls
  8. Have You Ever Seen the Rain – Creedence Clearwater
  9. Orange Blossom Special – Charlie Daniels Band
  10. Into the Mystic – Van Morrison

What are you top ten?

Can you add them to your life this week?

I suspect they might make everything just a little bit better.

A Veneration of Sorts

It has been under my bed gathering dust for years. Close to two decades. The black case layered with dust, the nylon strap long replaced with a length of twine that defies time and physics with its tenuous hold on the dingy vessel. When released, three silver buckles flip up to reveal worn rust-brown velvet cradling two items inside: my old violin and my bow.

I played through elementary school but fell off when orchestra practice meant getting to school early in junior high and high school. Nonetheless, I kept a few prized music books and dragged them and it along with me through life, across the years, three states, and then overseas, playing only occasionally.

For my birthday last year, my husband had it completely refurbished. New wood polish, new strings, a bridge, tuning keys, chin rest, rosin, and a new bow. The boss case is a cool lime green now and the fiddle rests there in great comfort and style, wholly protected, and deserving of the upgrade.

My new pitch pipe came in the mail just the other day. With it I can tune the violin accurately enough to get on with playing. Familiar tunes run through my head like old friends: Minuets of assorted numbers, Etude, Gavotte. Like companions I haven’t seen in ages, they are rustier and more compromised than I expected, but of great comfort, and I appreciate their surrounding me with familiarity and memories of many hours spent together – sharing time.

Even though I didn’t play all that much, I kept it near me wherever I went – that violin. It seems strange to have done that – dragged it around like I did – but when I think about why, I think I know. Music has always been a better part of me, so my unwillingness to leave it behind seems fitting.

It was right to keep it close all these years.

That old violin.

Soaring on Strings

What has forty seven strings, seven pedals, and over two thousand moving parts?

If you guessed a harp, you are correct.

This weekend, I accepted an invitation to attend a solo concert given by a renown harpist. In doing so, I was treated to an afternoon that I will not likely forget.

The soloist was Merynda Adams, a lovely musician who is as experienced playing gigs at celebrity weddings as she is accompanying philharmonic orchestras world-wide. The delightful setting that afternoon was a quaint farm church in the small village of Meyersville, at the juncture of three off-the-beaten-track country roads in central New Jersey. No bigger than an average sized classroom, the church provided a cozy gathering place that seemed the perfect vessel for an intimate concert.

When she began to play, two things struck me immediately. The first was that the cascade of notes swirling, dancing, and cavorting through air could not possibly be coming from just one instrument; the assault was overwhelming in its beauty. My second reaction was to be mesmerized. Watching the artist’s hands flutter fluidly, rapidly, lightly, effortlessly over the strings gave me reason to affirm the capacity of human intellect to accomplish miraculous feats such as this one – the playing of this harp.

I was reduced to tears on more than one occasion for the splendor of the music.

Experiences such as this garner faith in the propensity of the human spirit to do good things. For all of the negativity we encounter each day, Merynda Adams and her harp give me opposing hope. Hope in the tenacious notion that if we use our gifts wisely and well, the results can transcend our human condition to lift us above and beyond, in spite of ourselves.

That is heavenly music.