I’ve been watching this show, Sonic Highway on HBO. It’s Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters exploring the history of American music. To me, Dave is a hero. Music is not only our culture, but the world’s culture. It unites us all. On every corner (or curve for those of us who know the earth is round) of the earth, people use music for the same thing.
Music says the things that words aren’t quite enough for. Words are flat. Words are cliché. Words do not express emotion. They are cold and callus. Their bite can sting and cut you to the core. This is because when people speak, they rarely say what they mean. The whip out something to win an argument or push people away. On the other hand, when people wield words of love and admiration, the recipient rarely understands the magnitude of what is being said. They often dismiss it feeling they aren’t worth of the praise. More often than not, people rarely have the actions to substantiate the words that they speak.
I think people are nervous to say the things they feel. They may be embarrassed that they will sound stupid, unmanly, corny or maybe even like an asshole. Sometimes the truth hurts to speak, but the …
The most beautiful and painful example of this would be “Tears in Heaven” by Eric Clapton. This song was written when his son tragically died. I couldn’t imagine finding word to express the agony he must have gone through.
Would you know my name
If I saw you in heaven?
Would it be the same
If I saw you in heaven?
I couldn’t fathom letting the words come out.
In most every culture, music is used to express emotion. It is a celebration. It is a battle hymn. It’s a mourning. It’s a plea. It’s a greeting and a salutation. It’s a prayer. It’s a universal language. It the cadence to which we live our lives.
When I was born, I was immediately immersed into a very eclectic musical experience.
My mom would sing songs to me for all occasions, from waking up to going to sleep. Every night she would sing “Good Night Sweetheart” by Dean Martin.
Til we meet tomorrow
Sleep will vanish sorrow
Tears and parting may make us forlorn
But with the dawn a new day is born
Though I’m not beside you
I grew to associate music with comfort. As I got older, I did the same. There was The Temptations for happy times, Air Supply for sad times. Merle Haggard, Hank Williams and all the other outlaws were for family gatherings, also known as pickin’ n’ grinnin’. Guns n’ Roses helped us clean the house. Statler Brothers accompanied us while cooking Thanksgiving dinner. Bluegrass music is associated with camping in Georgia. The Monkees and The Mamas and The Papas were for long trips in the car. As I grew older, I broadened my horizons and added Linkin Park and Staind to help with my perpetual stress. Also, 90s rap music lightens the mood. Tone’ Loc, 2 Live Crew and Bel Biv Divo never let me down.
When I had children, I carried on this tradition. There’s nothing better than when your babies turn into toddlers and they start singing love songs to you. They also learn music association. Recently, “I Could Not Ask For More” by Sara Evans, came on. Number 4 said, Mom, this is Number 1’s night time song. He knows that The Platters “Only You” will sooth him.
When our time here on earth is through, I know I can count on someone to Sing Me Back Home before I die (Merle Haggard).