Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Music Lessons

Music soothes me. For the past few nights, I have been scouring YouTube and watching videos of high energy rock and R and B songs that just make me feel better. I lose myself in the music for at least a while and I can "escape" my problems, my sorrow, my pain and feel eased somewhat without having to resort to crack cocaine.

Music also evokes powerful emotions. Last night I watched the YouTube clip for the millionth time of Susan Boyle singing "I Dreamed a Dream" on Britain's Got Talent, and my eyes brimmed with tears and I felt all was well in the world, which I know is not true, but for five, very brief minutes I could hide behind a facade where goodness, the sheer, innocent goodness of a 47-year old doughty English spinster, triumphs over the evil of haughtiness and ridicule and pervasive pessimism.

Certain songs either transport me to a particular moment in time or recreate a special memory. When I hear Frampton's "Do You Feel Like We Do?", I am back in my bedroom as a teen, shades drawn, as I strummed my tennis racket to Frampton's opus and pretended to be a rock star.

Frampton's "I'm in You", a syrupy melody, was, I think, the unofficial anthem for my high school and early college girlfriend, Cindy, and me. Whenever I hear it, I think of her and of young, young love and how immature I was, but how powerful our relationship felt back then.

Don Henley's "Boys of Summer", which I literally could not listen to for a few years, reminds of a heart-searing breakup with a girlfriend, Amy, when I was in my mid-20s. It just hurt to hear Henley crooning, "You can never turn back."

Robert Palmer's "Bad Case of Loving You" holds a special place in my heart. Upon the recommendation of our labor coach, I sang a less than rock and roll version of it to Miguel every night for 3 months while he grew inside Verna.

"Hot summer nights/Felt like a net/I gotta find my baby yet."

Music also energizes me. I have over 1700 songs on my iPod in the rock and roll folder, and I listen to them in alphabetical order when I either run or ride the Life Cycle everyday. Certain songs make me want to tap my feet, sway to the music, or pump my body even faster. Anything by Bryan Adams, Donnie Iris, the Michael Stanley Band, the Beatles, Van Halen, and countless others are guaranteed to increase my energy.

Music can also teach or provide an opportunity for learning. The first thing Miguel does when I turn the car on after I pick him up at school is switch the radio station, usually on a jazz station, to some hip/hop, funk, rap outlet he's favoring.

Today he was listening to a song by Rihanna, a talented singer who gained further notoriety after her ex-boyfriend, Chris Brown, assaulted her physically. Her song today was about S and M.

"Miguel, do you know what S and M is?" I asked as the song blared.

"No." His friend, Adam, an 8th grader, sat in the backseat.

"S and M is where people have sex and cause others or themselves pain and violence," I explained. "S and M is where something enjoyable is turned into something painful and violent."

I didn't see the need to launch into anything more about sex, sacred acts between consenting adults or intense physical intimacy and enjoyment, than those two sentences.

"Well," he said, "thanks for the information."

"Miguel, you know what I'm saying. Some songs just say things that are really against my and Mommy's values."

At this point, he may have been ready to jump out the car window, splatter himself on the highway and avoid further embarrassment in front of Adam.

Yesterday he argued with me when I said any and all of the songs the DJ will play at his bar mitzvah reception in August (the 13th) will have to be sanitized.

"Why can't the DJ just use the beeper when a bad word comes on?"

"Because," was all I said.

Sometimes one word or word note or one verse is all it takes, not that he was any happier.

"Mommy's all right/Daddy's all right/They just seem a little weird..."

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