*Note: this post is part of a 20-day writing prompt 101 program I’m participating in. Today’s Prompt: “Write about three important songs in your life. What do they mean to you?”:
I’m sensitive. To facial expressions revealing the moods of others in my presence, redolent scents in a room, and of course, sounds. Especially sounds. Loud, startling noises, for example, have the same effect on me as an M80 firecracker on the Fourth of July did to my late standard poodle. I leap. Shriek. Curl into myself until assured the chaos has ended.
So music naturally affects me deeply. Emotionally. Any composition by Chopin or Debussy can transport me out of a flat, gray day behind a keyboard into a graceful waltz across a grand ballroom – even if just in my imagination. A passionate cadence of lyrics rapped by Eminem or Public Enemy can make me want to spring out of my comfort zone and into action for a cause. Any cause that overcomes some social injustice.
There are so many songs in my library of emotions. Narrowing down my lengthy list to just three could easily take up the rest of my day and beyond. But part of this exercise is to write uninterrupted, so I’ll share the first few songs I can think of that when heard, elicit goose bumps, tears, laughter, or some combination of the three:
1. Led Zepplin’s Going To California. I’m not a huge rock and roll fan, but Robert Plant uses his mastery of balancing vocal softness with restrained shrill to brilliant effect throughout this favorite of mine.
“Throw me a line if I reach it in time I’ll meet you up there where the path runs straight and high…”
Makes me want to toss the man a line right through my Bose headphones. Again, that voice – I so want him to reach whatever he’s seeking in time. And land on a nice clean path free of sudden detours or scary drop offs. His pleading cuts deep into my heart, and implores me to increase the volume to the highest notch.
“Tryin’ to find a woman who’s never, never, never been born. Standing on a hill in my mountain of dreams, telling myself it’s not as hard, hard, hard as it seems…”
By this phrase, I’m really rooting for him. For all of us. And reminiscing over my own past, all-consuming searches to find that dreamy ‘one and only’. If only it weren’t so hard.
2. Christopher Cross’ Sailing has ruddered me through several of life’s sticky points. Yes, to some, this song may have played across endless formats well past its ‘best buy’ date, but I still love it. Even a snippet embedded into a cheesy airline commercial (AeroMexico) will take my heart for a ride. Sailing evokes images of liberation. Liberation from following someone else’s idea of the best course to take. Liberation from a landlocked state of mind in whatever set of dire circumstances I’ve encountered over my 40+ years.
“Well, it’s not far down to paradise, at least it’s not for me. And if the wind is right you can sail away and find tranquility. Oh, the canvas can do miracles, just you wait and see. Believe me.”
Listening again and again, I do believe. And have reveled in many a miracle derived from chartering my own course, following my inner GPS.
“It’s not far to never-never land, no reason to pretend. And if the wind is right you can find the joy of innocence again. Oh, the canvas can do miracles, just you wait and see. Believe me.”
The vastness, agelessness, and limitlessness so beautifully depicted through these lovely lyrics offer up hope. Comfort. And goose bumps. Every time.
3. Citizen Cope’s Sideways was the first song to fully enamor me to this soulful artist’s work (read more here: The Show CAN go on). I love all his work, but this gem of a song, especially heard live in full witness of the physical expression he shares, leaves me digging for a box of tissues.
“These feelings won’t go away, they’ve been knockin’ me sideways, they’ve been knockin’ me out, babe. Whenever you come around me…I keep thinking in a moment that Time will take them away…”
I’ve been there. Likely you have too. Consumed by feelings without a turnoff switch. So powerful I can’t hold myself upright. A divorce will do that. Fear, guilt, jubilation, regret, hope, dread – all magnified beyond measure.
Cope captures the rawness of Sideways through his signature raspy voice and slightly off-kilter chords, and leaves me in awe of the both the pain and beauty of feeling. Even if it hurts.