My dear husband and I attended a concert last Saturday. It was four local bands made up of various seminary students and other residents of this college town. We knew some of the members of the band and were delighted to experience our talented friends’ music.
It occurred to me whilst listening to their songs how much I miss listening to music. Life has gotten busy lately and honestly, there hasn’t been a whole lot of music involved. I have plenty of music saved on my computer, we have a record player, I have a television that will play Pandora, and we even have three iPods between the two of us. There is absolutely no good reason to be without music, but somehow, it has slipped through the cracks. And I miss it. Which to me says I need music.
I need songs to remind me where I’ve been and where I’m going. I need Mumford and Sons to remind me to “paint my spirit gold.” I need The Head and the Heart to tell me that it will be “rivers and roads ’til I see you again.” I need Florence and the Machines to explain that “it’s hard to dance with the Devil on your back, so shake him off.”
The music from my childhood holds reminders for me as well. Les Miserables helps me to remember “even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.” Garth Brooks taught me “sometimes you’ve got to go against the grain.” Ben E. King was the soundtrack of my childhood, the song I danced to with my dad at my wedding, and reminds me that my family will always “stand by me.”
Songs from college showed up in my wedding vows, creep into my daily life, and still ring true today. The Avett Brothers gave me words for my vows: “life is ever changing/But I will always find a constant /And comfort in your love/With your heart my soul is bound.” Matchbox Twenty tells me “you don’t worry, you don’t worry, because you’ve got so much soul.” Needtobreathe calls to me to live on the outside where “you’re free to roam” and “you’ve found a home.” Songs from Once remind me of dear friends who played the guitar and learned songs for me.
My dear husband and I learned to be married to a soundtrack of Edward Sharpe, Josh Ritter, and Frightened Rabbit. We quickly learned which music we both liked and which music we would listen to when the other was not around. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes was the music to the most magical moment of our reception as they sang at the top of their lungs “Home is wherever I’m with you.” Josh Ritter crooned about the end of the world and Peter and Paul and girls with champagne eyes. Frightened Rabbit reminded us to “turn off the TV, it’s killing us, we never speak” and instead “waltz across the carpet, 1,2,3, 2, 2, 3.”
Not to mention hymns and songs of faith. These familiar refrains and newly learned prayers help me remember things I know but can’t feel. They ground my faith, remind me of who God is, and how I should respond in kind.
When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.
Blest be the tie that bind
our hearts in Christian love
The fellowship of kindred minds
is like to that above.
Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.
I haven’t even begun to talk about music without words: sweeping strings, triumphant brass, lilting flutes, the power of instruments. Movie soundtracks that transport me to a different time and place, classical music with just as much power and meaning as the day it was written, simple piano renditions of melodies that get stuck in your head and become a meditation.
Music is powerful. It transports you to the time you first heard the song, the time you first really heard the song, the people you were with when you all went “hey, I love that song!” I unapologetically love the music I love. It is varied, it is occasionally high art and occasionally low art, it is full of meaning, memories, and just plain fun. I’m a sucker for a guy and a guitar, harmonies, anything with strings, and anything Celtic. I love Les Miserables, Garth Brooks, Matchbox Twenty, Josh Ritter, Danny Elfman, Caedmon’s Call, and Yo-Yo Ma about equally. I know every word to Broadway shows, Contemporary Christian classics, and I adore all four Pirates of the Carribbean soundtracks. Because all of this music reminds of places, people, and truths that I often forget, but need to remain whole.