Music is Life

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Music’s in my veins

Everyone has the song; not just a song, as if something randomly picked from a mental library of compositions over a lifetime of music. I’m talking about that one song–uniquely special to every individual. It’s that one tune with the power to transform your entire mood, from the time your ears register the opening bars of melody, or the first measure of the beat. It’s the song. If you had to make out your last will and testament right now, the ending line would read, “And on my deathbed, I want to hear…playing in the background.” You feel it right now, don’t you? As you’re reading this, the song is filling your subconscious with joy. That’s the power of music. I honestly feel pity for folks who don’t genuinely enjoy melodies and harmonies. They’re deprived of one of life’s treasured gifts.

Music flows through my veins. My wife once asked me, “Do you hear music inside your head all the time?”

Yep. I can’t turn it off; even at night when I lay my head down. I usually drift off to the beating of my heart, ringing in my ears. I hear a kick drum.

My heart beats music…

Everyone’s got the song. But the problem with most musicians–whether novice or professional–is they covet more than one song. Sometimes, I can replay significant events in my memory and they flash across the back of my eyes like movie scenes complete with soundtrack music.

For instance, whenever my wedding day is mentioned or thought of, Luther Vandross’ “Here and Now” automatically dominates whatever scene is replaying in my memory. That song will forever be fused to that special day, within my heart. It was my wife’s choice and simply became a permanent fixture for every scene of our marriage.

I don’t care where I am in the world, or how I’m feeling at a given moment; Rob Base & DJ EZ Rock’s “It Takes Two” will jump-start my mood every time. I was in the 9th grade, the first time I heard that explosive drum beat drop, and was instantly hooked. Today, when no one’s watching, I still dance and recite the whole song.

Music has that power to inspire and ignite. That power is timeless. Some of my all-time classics stir something deep within me today, just as powerfully as they did decades ago.

Some assembly required…

When I was a kid, I was tortured with different types of sounds and tones constantly running through head. I used to love to sit and listen to my uncle D pound away on the keys of my grandma’s old stand-up piano. It was the only time I really felt like music could be controlled, because he made it look so easy, stringing the different keys together creating melodies. As I grew older, my Mom bought my first drum machine–A Casio 4-pad player complete with drum sticks. My dad bought my first keyboard–an entry level digital Casio with basic voices and a single record function. Through the years, I fumbled around those pieces of equipment trying desperately to recreate the sounds in my head.

But, it wasn’t until the turn of the new century that I finally got hold of something that would help my struggles–rather…someone. Jesus. When I came to Christ, I met a brother named Rob who introduced me to chords. And once I figured out that the sounds I had been playing around with my entire life actually had names, designations and patterns…well my friend…I suddenly learned that I could make my own music. I just needed to practice assembling chords to make melodies. Music and I became best friends.

Be careful what you’re listening to…

There is a legend within Christianity, that says Satan–once the Archangel Lucifer–was heaven’s choir director. He was the leader of eternity’s most awesome group in charge of worshiping the Lord. But, he got gassed up on his own talent and decided that he should be running things instead of God. Well…that didn’t turn out too well for him and his constituents. They found themselves evicted. Down here on earth, there is a belief that he’s using music (to this very day) to sway the hearts and minds of many, turning them away from God.

I believe there’s truth in that. Do I believe ALL music is bad? That’s absurd! But, I do believe there exists music that breathes life just as there is music that promotes death. We have to be selective in what we allow to come into our hearts.

Once upon a time, I was completely drawn to the type of music that made me angry inside; wrathful and arrogant. I bought into the culture surround this type of music and it dominated my life, changing me into someone very different from the man I am today. People try to label things to get a grip on what they really don’t understand. I just call it what it is: death music. Whether it was gangsta rap, trip-hop or death metal, I sampled it all with the misguided belief of being a “student of all music”.

Today is different, though. I’m pretty selective in what I listen to and well aware of how some genres affect the Spirit within me. Music with God-edifying lyrics moves me in a way I hadn’t experienced early on in life; it doesn’t matter if it’s Christian Contemporary or Christian Rap. I can vibe to Chris Tomlin or Bizzle; Kari Jobe, Lauren Daigel; Datin; or Selah Tha Corner.

Just as easily, I can still vibe to old school Motown, Golden Age hip hop, 80’s pop and classical music as well. Some Christians are bothered by secular music and choose not to listen; and that’s totally okay, if it’s what you need to do to remain close to God. I’m a Christian man who still listens to some secular music. While I’m very selective in what I listen to for personal reasons, I’m not worrying about Jesus condemning me. Everyone has to work out their own relationship with the Lord, individually. What works for me might not work for someone else. What speaks to me, might not for others. But there is no judgment in me, when it comes down to someone else’s choice. A guy who struggles with N.W.A. lyrics will eventually have to make a choice. I gave it up long ago but it took time, and I had to be ready. Even in music, the struggle is real.

The song speaks when I can’t

I believe everyone’s got a song. Some people simply haven’t heard it, yet. Sometimes in life, things happen and there are no words to express the resulting feeling. There are times when music knows exactly what to say. Have you ever seen a woman cry at the sound of a beautiful voice? Have you ever seen a baby stop and listen to the sound of his/her mother singing in another room?

“The Greatest Showman” was a pleasant surprise for me. Watching Hugh Jackman prance around in tights, singing show tunes was not my idea of an awesome movie night. I really wanted to watch something explode onscreen, but the boss called the shots that night. And so, I watched…and was amazed. There was–in fact–one particular scene that blew me away.

Jenny Lind took the stage, and sang “Never Enough”. Dude. From the time she sang the first verse of the chorus, my mouth literally fell agape. Yeah, I get it; the actress wasn’t really singing. Her acting only added to the beauty of the voice behind the lyrics. Barnum’s facial expression must’ve mimicked my own. It was amazing watching that scene for the first time. The words simply escaped me.

Some songs just know what to say and how to say it, when words fail us. The wonder of music is that when instruments combine in just the right way, the heart flutters. When a voice hits the pure tone attuned to your heart, heaven opens for a brief moment in time. Music is just that powerful. The world would be a drab place without it.

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