Songs in the Key of Me
Music - a constant source of the background to life itself. Whilst doing some writing research I came to this awareness that throughout my life there has always been music and songs that "fit" into a stage of my life. I could follow my life story through music and what I was listening to at the time. I have always had in the background this random writing project that I do for fun. A compilation of short stories with the working title "Songs In the Key of Me" , the lyrics and music that takes me back to a place , a moment, a time, the people we meet on life's journey and who we are in that moment of music and song . It can be so instant on hearing the first notes of a song how we can be transported to an emotional connection whether it is joy, love, a truckload of tears , a memory of a person and time or a quiet happy memory that is just ours. I am also amazed that I can totally recall word for word the lyrics to a song from fifty years ago but struggle to recall simple instructions given ten minutes earlier. The joy music has provided throughout my life has been constant, from my earliest memories of listening to my parents sing, to these days enjoying road trip singalongs with my grandchildren , music is the thing that connects us all to the moment and memory.
Music is also a timeline of our changing taste and attitudes as we age, a musical catalogue of life itself.
I remember David Cassidy being the first pin up I had on my bedroom wall as I hurtled with such big dreams and false fantasies towards the teenage years. I can still recite every word of I Think I Love You the hit single of the day. Then I sort of began the process to glam rock with Marc Bolan and T Rex , a bit of Gary Glitter and The Sweet , I was attracted by their shiny glittery presence and androgynous look which seemed at odds with their music. I then progressed to David Bowie who was again just so different and thou half the time I had no idea what his songs were about I loved his sound and the fact he was musically different. I presume at this time I had emotionally progressed from young preppy love songs to something a tad more edgier and of course wanting to be "cool" , I also loved how the artists were all so brave to be different and out there. Then in what I call my "stoned or wasted " years I discovered Lou Reed. He was a long way from David Cassidy that's for sure , it is almost a musical slippery slide into adulthood and my changing life experience. I still play Lou Reed to this day , good music never ages or goes out of style, his songs take me back to a time of living in one bedroom flat with about five bits of furniture, wearing tread shoes and Staggers button up flares, the smell of incense, and long days of nothingness.
As the years progressed life took many twists and turns and with them my music taste changed accordingly. Mike Oldfield was the first musician that actually infected my living cells and made my skin dance and heart pound with the musical crescendo's, he just rattled my mind with his talent, no singing just instrumentals. I still play his music at least once a week and the music and memory take me to a time where I still become absorbed in the sound and the stillness. I also can not help but dance with abandon like no one is watching. He is one of my favourite all time artists and he just makes me happy. Then there is Rod Thomas who brings me nothing but happy memories and the fun we would have going to see him in concert . Let me also just say I can still picture him in his black leather pants and cherry red docs on stage - whoa indeed !! ( my good friend Bonnie can vouch for this as we both grappled for the binoculars to get a better look ) , his music also provides some great road tripping songs and I love to sing his songs loud, really loud. Some may say a rather controversial musical choice is Eminem and this picture of him sums up a time in my life when his words, anger, pain and everything in-between was music to my ears. Listening to him rap away his venom made me feel understood, I still listen to his songs now but from a different perspective, my anger is long gone but I remember what it felt like to be homeless, broke and alone and I just wish I could of articulated my misery and anger like he did. That's the thing about music and lyrics, some of the most beautiful words I have ever read have come from the back of a record label sleeve. - **side note the downloading of music these days has taken away the pleasure of reading album covers from back to front and the thrill of that moment**
I have such varied taste in music, it is dependent on my mood of the day. I am a sucker for boy bands , yes I know, don't roll your eyes as my kids did, - but if ever I want to dance and sing they are perfect pop , NSYNC , Backstreet boys , then add in Destinys Child for a bit of booty shaking and I am happy as. I have spent hours collating my play lists which I have lovingly crafted over the years, I have a playlist for every emotion and occasion. Every song has a connection to something or someone, some happy, some sad. Whilst working on my writing project "Songs in the Key of Me" I have been exploring the top twenty five , high rotation songs that catalogue my life .Here I dissect certain lyrics and the stories of connection behind them .It is a personal project but lots of fun to do and also quite cathartic. This idea started from another project I did many years ago when I turned sixty.I asked people who knew me to send me one song they thought of or connected to me and the reason why. I wanted to make a new playlist around friendship and memories. As the songs and memories came rolling in it revealed the times of my life our friendship connections belonged. I highly recommend the exercise when you reach a milestone birthday it is great to have a musical memory of friendship and also there were a few surprises in there that my friends came up with, things I had forgot.
Whilst on a writing retreat in the early days of writing my memoir The Suitcase we were given the task to use songs / music to "write our life story", using the songs that would evoke emotion or our stories or those that we would play in the background of our life. I had everything from Pink Floyd, Genesis, Bruce Springsteen, Coldplay, to the Divinyls, Guy Sebastian, Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Justin Bieber.
As Hans Christian Anderson once said "Where words fail, music speaks"
I hope everyone gets to spend their days in sunshine and song and if ever you have the time , go old school , make a mixed tape of those moments and memories in life that will bring you quiet enjoyment when you are confined to a rocking chair but still old enough to rock it.