Concert tickets. Something that seems so trivial, yet something important to me. Music has always resonated with me across a variety of genres. Emotion. Memories. Energy.
One of my all time favorite artists…James Taylor…is playing not 5 miles away from my house right now. A part of me wants to throw caution to the wind and drive to Red Rocks Amphitheater to try and hear him sing even if only from the parking lot. Those lyrics…those songs…they have been a constant in my life for over two decades.
I started listening to the original “JT” in high school. He, the Eagles, and Stevie Nicks were my favorites. I remember my Mom gifting me two Eagles tapes the day my parents gave me an early high school graduation present, a white Mazda RX7. I played those over and over and just drove. Freedom!
At Clemson, I used to take naps during the day (more often than I should) and at night fall asleep to James Taylor’s Greatest Hits. My roommates will even tell you hearing his songs reminds them of me. Those soothing sounds helped lull me away to a place where I felt safe. Asleep. College was some of the most memorable years of my life in both wonderful and horrible ways. I would always rest easy though, listening to his music.
My Mom took me to his concert 20 years ago. She knew then the importance of music to me. I’ve since worn out a tape and two CD’s of the same album. Music relates.
After moving to Colorado, when I would get so homesick for South Carolina, those songs would bring tears to my eyes. Although the tears would fall, I couldn’t turn it off. I’ve taught myself lots of music by ear on the piano…long after the years of lessons as a young girl passed. Sometimes I just play it to hear the notes when I’m by myself. Although I have the Greatest Hits piano book, when I play I most often tickle the keys by memory. Music soothes.
I remember one of my dearest college friends dancing with her Dad on her wedding day to Fire and Rain. She told me he had always sang that to her through the years. I smiled with misty eyes watching them so beautifully glide across the floor and imagined her as a child dancing on her daddy’s toes, much like I did with my Dad when I was young. In that moment that’s probably how he saw her, too. Every time I hear that song, I think of their amazing relationship. Music inspires.
When I married, our guests received CD’s filled with our favorite songs as wedding favors. He was one of the first on my list of songs as well as on our wedding highlight video. Music delights.
When our babies were born, I always played music in their rooms to help them drift off to sleep. Beautiful lullabies, hymns, sometimes even Baby Elvis, and of course, James Taylor. I especially loved rocking them and singing Sweet Baby James, You’ve Got A Friend, and Carolina In My Mind. As they grew, I danced with them around the family room to How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You). Music connects.
Imagine my excitement when ringtones arrived! My Mom and younger sister were affectionally given Boogie Shoes. So appropriate and vibrant for them. They have a zest for life! I smiled every time they called. My Dad and my older sister rang Carolina in My Mind. Equally appropriate and welcoming for them. They remind me of an oak tree, so strong and steady! I smiled every time they called. Now when I hear the song, I often cry. My Dad passed away a year and a half ago. I had to take the ringtone off as when my sister called, there were times for an instant I thought it was him. It used to be a sobbing, can’t control it, ugly cry. Now it’s more of a healing one. Music speaks.
Every night after prayers and high-low points, I sing to my children. They have their two favorites. One night my little girl asked “Mama one more?” and I turned to James Taylor. Although my a capella voice sounds nothing like that of a recording artist, to my children it is peaceful and calming. I love that they ask me to sing and to them, it’s comforting. That night I sang Carolina In My Mind. She started to cry. I asked why, and she said it reminded her of my Dad. In our minds, Carolina is family. It’s my heritage, my roots. It’s my children’s second home. We cried together, talking about life, death, family, and memories. We held each other. Me and my 7 year old. Music heals.
So tonight, I will sit on my back deck and hope to hear a little sound. Although with his soft tones, I am not expecting it to reach my ears from even those few miles away. That’s okay, because I have the true music inside. I can hear it whenever I choose…
I am grateful the Good Lord blessed us with musical ability, some more than others 😉 Whether praising Him, softly singing bedtime songs to my children, or just driving and hearing “my music” now on the easy listening channel while rockin’ out in a minivan, I am amazed at how something can so deeply move me.
What speaks to you? Please do share in the comments.