Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Power of Music and Lyrics

I have sung in choirs and choruses, at weddings and as a church soloist all my life. I've been transported to heaven singing Brahm's German Requiem. I've been honored to sing at weddings of people I don't know. All my life I've had the privilege of choosing songs that were meaningful to me to share with a congregation. But I don't listen to these songs in my car, walking with my ipod, or at home. I exclusively listen to music for lyrics that evoke a certain emotion in me. It's a habit I've had for almost twenty years since a single CD changed me. It was a time when I was experiencing every negative emotion humanly possible, and sometimes no emotion at all. Although it was a tumultuous and frightening time, it also gave me a rush of something new, something swiftly approaching, a nascent hope and a release from the monotony of a former life. Sometimes I listen to those songs just to experience that rush again. Or the one song that still makes me flinch.

There were two CDs that connected to my very soul. One was Tori Amos's Little Earthquakes. With piano sounds and lyrics I'd never heard before, it gave me permission to be angry (which I desperately needed), to scream, to make me feel alive again. I believe I started writing poetry because her lyrics were poetry to me. On the way home from divorce court I loudly sang along with the song "Little Earthquakes" - give me life, give me pain, give me myself again.
The song "Crucify" asked - why do we crucify ourselves everyday? I crucify myself and nothing I do is good enough for you.
"Tear in Your Hand" said - you don't know the power you have with that tear in your hand.
She sang to me - she's been everybody else's girl, maybe one day she'll be her own.
And - sometimes I hear my voice and it's been HERE - silent all these years.
And - these precious things - let them bleed, let them wash away....

Then, the underrated Kenny Loggins made a CD called Leap of Faith, and I thought he was in my brain. It seemed he was feeling the same things I was:
And if I have to make up my mind, maybe now is the time to decide. Every minute makes it harder on me. Why must it be now or never?

Then in "Leap of Faith" he sang - Once in a life you can find the time to see. Then you get to take it down, turn around, temporary sanity. And then the mountain disappears without a trace - and all it took was a sudden leap of faith.

He sang to his daughter in "The Real Thing" - I did it for you and the boys, because love should teach you joy, and not the imitation that your mama and daddy tried to show you. I did it for you and for me and because I still believe there's only one thing you can never give up on and that's the real thing you need in love.

And I played that song for people to try to explain why my life had fallen apart. At the end of that song he sings:
Everybody's got a boat upon the ocean, but not everybody's sailing out to sea. Is there someone there for me? I'm ready to believe...

AND SO - the last song of that album is called "Too Early for the Sun." It was a few years before I could relate to that one:
You're too early for the stars, too early for the wind
too early for my heart to open up again
but when I see you I just laugh, and I believe
I'm right where I'm supposed to be.
I have never known a life like this except in my dreams
one kiss and I arose anew, now I am alive
I have survived.

And so - after seasons of pain and anger, healing and forgiveness - this was our first dance in my living room. This was our first dance as husband and wife. This is our dance every July 6th in our living room. The album Leap of Faith came full circle in my life - how appropriate.

These songs, these lyrics had a powerful effect on me. Some of them changed me, grew me, and healed me. I will always be grateful that these artists sang their truths because they made me understand my own truth. Music still does that for me.


Lena said...

I can so relate. Stayed up way too late last night listening to music and lyrics.

Moohaa said...

I am sooo that way as well. I know music speaks to me, to my spirit. I have full albums that can retell times in my life. Songs that speak to memories and hopes and dreams.

Thank you for sharing!

Moohaa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Daniel Bell said...

Without Bruce Springsteen, Jackson Brown, Steely Dan, et al, I never would have made it out of my twenties.

FYI, the best lyricists working today are in country music.

Amy said...

I hear you!! I often listen to Stevie Nicks when I need inspiration. Thank God for music. Songwriters are like poets, aren't they?