Life Through Lyrics

Anyone who knows me would probably tell you that music is my first language. I really didn’t have a choice; I was born (happily) into it.  My earliest memories were of my mom and dad singing in their wedding band together.  And on Friday nights, Pop-pop would babysit me because Mom-Mom was rocking out on the accordion at her senior citizen gigs. I remember watching her intently as she sat at her vanity applying her make-up, transforming herself with her glitzy gowns and the strong scent of Chanel No. 5. Mom-mom taught me to play the piano at age 4, and as I grew older, I studied with intense instructors who helped me develop into a talented pianist (whether I wanted to practice 2 hours a day or not).  But while music moved me, my heart was always connected to the words - singing. I watched admirably as my dad belted his heart out, performing in lead roles at the Grand Theatre.  Of course nothing helped me get through my awkward teen years more than Alice in Chains, Celine Dion, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Destiny’s Child, and Hootie and the Blowfish all at once.  And no matter how old I might be, nothing expresses deep resentful anger as well as a man-hating Alanis Morissette song.  Speaking of Alanis, this was my attempt....

 Perhaps though, the best part of being musical is having the ability to write my own.  I fooled around at the piano and made up my own silly songs when I was young. The first song I ever wrote was called “Does It Have To Be Today?” and it was ridiculously awful. I’m sure my friend Gary could vouch for its terribleness, as I made him rehearse it with me over and over again swearing it was going to make me a superstar.  But more seriously, when anything eventful – mostly sad or tragic – occurred in my life, I immediately sat down at the piano and began writing. It was survival for me.  When I was in my first year of college, a friend passed away, and my attempt at working through those emotions came out as a song I wrote and recorded called “Hard to Say Goodbye.”  If I had a dollar for everyone who cried when they heard it, I’d probably have… well… 15 dollars. But it was more than a song. It was the realization that this wasn’t just about other artists moving me with music; I was able to move others through my own. And that is how I knew I would never stop singing.

I could go on and on about music in my adult life, but there's really just one more thing I need to share.  This is the song that means more to me than any other.  The sound quality is poor (as I recorded it in about an hour on my iMac at 1 a.m. on a Friday night), but the substance is rich.  On Father's Day in 2012, I opened my laptop and set it on my Dad's lap as he lay in his hospital bed.  My gift to him, that I learned a month later would be "farewell." Perhaps the best moment I ever had with my dad… and it would never have been what it was without music.

Everything we do has a connection to music: a drive in the car, a workout at the gym, parties, movies, love, breakups, and death. Whether we are blessed to have musical ability ourselves or blessed with the ability to listen to it, music is a constant that we can always rely on, a universal language that we all speak. I believe Aldous Huxley said it best:  "After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible - is music."  

So I ask you to think (and share if you'd like) - How has music moved you?

My Dad and I singing together in the Strayz band. 2008.

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