Notes sing, chords play, “they go on and on and on and on……”
Music is the language of forever. Once played, once sung, the As and Bs and C minors drift across air and time, and if you listen closely enough, you can hear them form a whole new harmony. They attach to your innermost innermost, lifting memories to the front, and creating brand new ones.
And we lucky ones, we don’t have to do a thing but listen….and perhaps sing every now and again.
“The Old Rugged Cross,” an old gospel classic brings a churning and mist whenever I hear it or it finds my mind.
“On a hill, far away, stood an old rugged cross, the emblem of suffering and shame…..”
Venerable and powerfully sung by my German Grandpa from my earliest days, his voice grew strong with emotion every time he sang. and while the melody melds with others floating near, it’s his voice I hear first. It’s his voice I hear last. Strong in his beliefs, even stronger in his love for his family, when he believed and loved, he did it with his whole being, his whole voice. Once, sitting on the porch swing hung from the old farmhouse, long time gone now, he was in from a long day of farming. Wrists huge from the years of plowing and planting and fixing the tractor and building barns and birthing all manner of livestock, he held my littler 8-year-old hand and said, simply, “Sing with me.”
All the verses. By heart.
Didn’t know then Grandma was inside the front room, behind the frothy lace curtains she’d hung before I was born, having her own misty moment.
And his voice does more than drift past, even now. It’s bursting forth with gusto. It’s loud and full and sure.
And I miss him. But I will always have his song.
“Ode to Joy.” “Ode to Joy.”
Who hasn’t hummed this simple, simply heavenly, magnificently crafted masterpiece?
Ad infinitum. Ad nauseum.
Many names, simple words added and subtracted, the melody remains pure. Our beautiful and talented daughter learned it early on, kindergarten piano lessons. Bless the wonderful, patient teacher, forgoing finger exercises and offering the pure joy of creating just that.
Life and skinned knees and skinned hearts and boys and what to wear and school dances and sorting the growing and college and marriage, and still, still, top of her list is an homage to what lies in her heart and what she shares with all we lucky rest….
An “Ode to Joy.”
Ask her. She’ll tell you, still.
And for that, we are grateful. And are now humming once again…..
Carole King’s “Tapestry”
Every single song. Every single note. Every single happy piano riff.
These are mine, all mine!
The place is Atlanta, the year is 1971. My allowance was weighing heavy in my pocket. Our little family had taken the yearly vacation south, and while I loved my family, I was growing up and needed something my own. My very own.
Somewhere on my bedside clock radio (no LED then, nothing but analog, baby!) station, some late night DJ had mentioned Ms. Carole King. Having heard not a note, we had wandered into a discount store late one night to replace the socks my little brother had failed to pack. I wandered into the infinite rows of cardboard music covers, all at attention, all holding secrets and power and effort and “Blood, Sweat, and Tears…!”
Then I remembered, and sorting out the system, thankfully alphabetical, I found my way to “K.” One left, or as far as I could tell, assured me it was meant to be. So for $4.99, I purchased my first album. Ever. Ever.
I’m sure I belong in a special club, for what better, more uplifting, singable, positive set on songs exist? I know not one!
“I Feel the Earth Move” All of sudden, I DID. I DID.
“So Far Away” Doesn’t anybody stay in one place anymore? I ask you!
“Smackwater Jack” Tell me a story!
“Tapestry” Truth of the ages!
I am. I am because I allowed these songs to land deep. I am because I memorized all the words and sang them exactly as Carole did. Her voice and her composition gave me courage. Independence began with $4.99 and lost socks.
My kind of music!
Listen! I am! And I think, is that what I think it is? Is that your music I hear?
Sing on. Play on.
Music is the language of forever.