Saturday, April 28, 2007

Songs in the Key of Life

Looking back on all my posts, I realized that though this blog is titled, "One Musical Mom's Life", there hasn't been a lot about music.

So, if Stevie Wonder will indulge my borrowing his album title, today is about music.

What is it about music that we can remember exactly where we were, and what we were doing, if we hear a certain song come on the radio?

For example, although this will probably date me, and make you even question my music choices, I can tell you exactly where I was, and even who I was talking to on the phone, whenever I hear "Nikita" by Elton John. Granted, it was the 80's, and I was in high school, and this was what was playing. Or "Be Good Johnny" by Men at Work. 7th grade Winter Church retreat, and it was playing in the gym during our free time. Or "The Tide is High" by Blondie. 5th grade, and it was playing on the jukebox at Pizza Hut.

And songs associated with movies?? Even more likely to send me down Memory Lane, and not always in a good way. The summer that "Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves" came out in theaters, the theme song, Bryan Adams' "Everything I Do, I do for you" was playing non-stop on the radio. Though not a bad song in its 80's power ballad way, it had the unfortunate-ness for me of being associated with a very nasty breakup. Thus, every time it came on, I practically threw my radio across the room.

So why is it that music has such a power over us? Could it be that it is so entwined in our make-up that it's as essential as breathing? Have you ever noticed that we have heart "beats"? It's funny that the same word used to keep time or rhythm in a song, also is used to describe a major biological function.

I think this is why music and in particular, the part it plays in church services, is so close to people's hearts. If you were to poll 100 people, and ask them what part of a church service is most important to them, I think you would find that the Music is definitely right near the top. Just ask any harried worship pastor, after they've been trying to plan a church service, and I bet they'll say nailing down the music is the most challenging part. Because what style appeals to you, doesn't necessarily appeal to the person sitting next to you. And if music is a major part of how people meet and connect with God, and they can't relate to it, for whatever reason, where does that leave them?

And on top of all this, you have, in my opinion, two different schools of musicians: those that rely and take great comfort in notes, and full scores on the page, and those that prefer to have just the melody in the form of a lead sheet with chords as their map. I have found that it is a rare person who can do both well. For me, give me the full works, notes, chords and I'm a happy girl. Throw a lead sheet in front of me, and watch me have a meltdown. On the other hand, for someone who likes the freedom of a lead sheet to improvise, etc., a piece of sheet music could send them through the roof.

I think it all comes down to this: We need to remember that each person comes with his or her own likes & dislikes when it comes to music. But instead of letting it tear us apart, we can use our unique designs to create beautiful symphonies together in life. For one instrument playing by itself, in what appears to be an amazing solo, over time, can become very lonely. However, when the full orchestra joins in, playing together, this is what is known as the goose-pimple principle, my friend.

Let the music play, K~


Anonymous said...

Great post! Elton John's "Little Jeannie" = first time driving car without parent... Billy Joel's "Movin' Out" when I was, uh, movin' out... Peter Gabriel's "Solsbury Hill" when all is good in the world. Thanks for tweaking my memory-- K

Allison McKenney said...

I've got the Bryan Adams TAPE with "Everything I do..." in the attic! LOVED that song!