For as long as I can remember, there has been music in my life. My parents sing well and my dad plays the guitar and has since he was 17: my mom, brother, and myself, as well as some other family members, have their “own” song that he’s written. Growing up, my parents often led the folk group for the 5pm Saturday mass at our Catholic Church(es) – we moved a lot. And once I was old enough, I joined them in singing first, then also in playing the flute as back-up (still sang when not playing). I can’t remember life without music. A lot of the time, I can’t get through a day without “hearing” a song in something someone says. Some times it is a loose association to a song and other times it is a direct quote of a song that sets me off and singing what they’re saying. I try to keep it to myself when I can hold it in, as I’m sure that could get annoying really fast. My mom used to do it all the time and I remember being less than receptive! LOL.
When I was in elementary school around seven or eight years old, I wasn’t what you would call “popular;” heck, I don’t think I’ve ever fit into that category. Some days were particularly lonely or I was just a loner – I’m not sure which – and I would wander around the playground singing to myself, walking and weaving in and out of the swing sets and slides as I discovered my voice and allowed it to weave along new sounds. I never knew what was going to come next. I wasn’t singing what was already written; I was making my own way and my own music. This has never stopped and I still love the freedom that creation of something new can bring.
My dad used to take me with him to his band practices and shows too. I remember singing along to “Sweet Dreams” with Three Dudes and a Doll, in Rome, NY at their practices and shows. I remember singing country with another band he was a part of (and which its name first escaped me, but now I remember was called The Bounty Hunters) – old school country from the 70s: a lot of Kenny Rogers and Willie Nelson… “oooh… feels so right.”
I’ve often said that if I were to lose any of my senses (touch, smell, sound, sight, speech, sixth), I couldn’t imagine or fathom how my heart would respond if I lost my sense of sound/hearing. Music is so integral to who I am that I can’t imagine a “me” without it. I can’t imagine what life would sound like without any sound to it, even if just the ‘whooshing’ noises I can hear with earplugs in – the sound of my own pulse or heartbeat, breathing, or chewing. But without music – though I could imagine it and “hear” it in my mind, having now had this sense and experience – I’m not sure what I would do.
When I’m feeling any emotion beyond what I can process, I turn to music to help me figure it out and move through it. For instance, back in February 2001, during a pretty heart-damaging break-up, I turned to Ani DiFranco (Living in Clip, Disc 2) to get through it. I listened and relistened so many times that I thought the CD would stop working. Typically, I turn to listen to music when I am feeling intense undesirable emotions (generally ‘negative’ ones) and sing (or “drum”) when I’m happy. If there is music on and I’m in a good mood, chances are (if I know it or can figure it out) I’m singing, even if not out loud.
I think that if I could snap my fingers and have a chance to record music professionally in someway and be able to make a living of it (or even fun of it – like a band in whatever town I live in that played out in a non-smoking location), I would do it. I write my own music from time to time, when the mood strikes. My mom and I took a trip to Nashville for my 25th birthday and I just missed my chance to play at an open-mic event. Now though, I have a pass to play two of my songs at the BlueBird Cafe in Nashville someday when I get back down there on a Monday evening. I look forward (and am nervous as hell) for when that day comes. Not if… when. Until I break into music as a profession, I fill this desire at Singers in Solvay, NY from time to time. haha!
In the meantime, I’ll be belting it out in the shower, in my car, pretty much anywhere that I’m feeling happy or even something less than happy… music is a necessity to my heart beating and who I am at the deepest level. I at least crave listening to it… the singing isn’t always necessary, though it is equally vital to my self-definition. Without music, I feel empty… and with it, my soul soars and feels free. So, “turn the radio up for that sweet sound…”