lately, as i've been outside, soaking up the weather. the sun. the wind. i've been thinking about music. songs specifically. how powerful they are. the chords. the arrangement. the words. how a single song can stop you in your tracks. mesmerize you. dare i say---change you. i've had several such songs. musical creations that i can take back to the exact moments i first heard them. that flood me with emotion. that take over. force me to pause and listen straight through to the final note. and not because they are universally meaningful to everyone. no. these songs are sometimes meaningful only to me.
i can recall with vivid clarity the first song i ever REALLY heard. the first song that i ever paid attention to. listened to. it was bruce springsteen's "i'm on fire". growing up, we had an alarm-clock/radio in our kitchen. every morning, my sister and i would listen to classic rock and oldies through the solitary worn speaker. and my dad would occasionally use the alarm setting to wake him up before the sun came up. one night, when i was probably about 7 years old, i woke up to muffled sounds. my clock read 3am. i snuck out of bed and crept into the kitchen. i realized that the radio was playing. once i was near it, i could hear guitar strings being plucked. and then a deep, raspy-ish voice sang out into the dark, empty room. into the night::
"hey little girl, is your daddy home? or did he go and leave you all alone?"
it were as if the voice was singing directly to me. i sat down and let the song wash over my body like rain. when it concluded, i crawled back into bed and returned to sleep. but i was changed. in that deserted kitchen i had felt the power of a song. the emotional pull of lyrics. i wasn't sure what it all meant---but i loved it. for years i would remember only the first line of that tune-- but it was enough to help me find it when i grew older and needed it's calming power again.
i've collected other special songs through the years: landslide (by fleetwood mac)--a song i would always hear as a child-- driving home in the backseat late at night... slipping into sleep. if forced to choose--i would probably say it's my favorite. then, there's the freshman (by the verve pipe)--- which i first heard on a gloomy ride to school in the sixth grade. it was the perfect combination of poetry and angst. and let's not forget the scientist (by coldplay). a masterpiece of composition and lyric. which--despite ridiculous overplay in college-- still moves me.
most recently, about halfway through nursing school, another song found me. i was driving through the black morning--rain pounding on my windshield-- and my heart was heavy. i was exhausted. empty. and heading to another day of clinical training was the last thing on earth i wanted to be doing at 5am. i turned on the radio and heard the first line of washed by the water (by needtobreathe)::
"daddy was a preacher. she was his wife. just tryin to make the world a little better. you know--shine a light"
i don't know what struck me most, but i was mesmerized. the song went on to say: even when the rain falls. even when the flood starts rising. even when the storm comes. i am washed by the water. in that moment of despair-- these words lit a spark in me. healed a broken part of my spirit. and not only because they were gorgeously delivered---but because they were true.
i am irrevocably connected to music. i am always singing a song. i do it without thinking. it's like my soul is a sound---always trying to make it's way out into the world. and it's such a wonderful, beautiful thing. such a lovely soundtrack to my life.
what songs have moved you?