Me, on Music

Music is the ultimate transformer. Sometimes I’m feeling and music intensifies that feeling. Sometimes I’m listening and the way I’m feeling changes as a result. Regardless of whether music is the instigator or the outcome, there is a direct correlation between the bang of a drum, the strum of a string, pressure on a key, the screech of a horn, the extension of a deep and sultry note, and my mood.

A classic rock song, Bad Company’s ‘Feel Like Making Love’ takes me back to my first boyfriend, late night teenage parties, rooms filled with a thick cloud of pot smoke, uncontrollable laughter and the nervousness of impending, awkward, inexperienced sex.

The introductory notes of a more chilled out Todd Rundgren with ‘Can We Still Be Friends’ transports me to the morning after, firm and slender naked bodies tightly knit beneath cheap blankets, heads atop mismatched pillow cases, carrying us through to an afternoon stumble to the bathroom, the kitchen and back to bed for a beer and a cigarette. Before long, the crew would return for another case of beer, more classic rock, and a new night of old memories. I was never in my element but when Sunday rolled around and we were alone at last, I slid my Stevie Wonder album from the sleeve, dropped the needle at ‘Golden Lady’ and found my soulful way to true happiness.

I recall Mick Jagger frantically strutting the stage while Charlie at his kit in his cool, calm way balanced out the chaos before him. While I could appreciate the talent, it was only when Beast of Burden’s funky, sexy beat blared through the speakers that I felt something magical inside.

Enter the odd period of my life when I welcomed Gordon Lightfoot’s melodic influence in. I was ready to give birth and his music felt like a lullaby that I was convinced would keep me calm and at peace as my son made his way into the world. In the end, Gordon didn’t help at all and was drowned out by the ranting, screaming, sobbing mess that I became that evening. Today, I cringe at the thought of his music but in the moment, it had it’s purpose.

Jamiroquai’s soulful ‘We’re Too Young To Die’ was an incredible distraction from my panic attacks and severe anxiety in my early 20’s. Better than any antidepressant, his bass line was a lifeline for me when those terrifying feelings came on. It took me out of my head and to a place more slick and safe.

I’m certain I was the only 14 year old girl in my small community who didn’t want to wear Sperry Topsiders and Lacoste button-ups bopping around to the preppy sounds on the radio in the mid 80’s. I couldn’t wait to be alone in my room at the end of the day with Quincy Jones, Anita Baker, Barry White and the Isley Brothers. When that music reached my ears, I was on a one-way sensual journey.

The older I get, the more music affects me, likely because I grow increasingly sentimental and am continuously more in touch with who I am and what moves me. A glass of red in my trembling hand, anticipating my travel to a different time and space. A darkened stage, an intimate venue, a tall black man with a deeply delicious voice sits at his piano and welcomes me. Another stands beside him, his arms wrapped like a lover around his stand-up bass, his fingers firm around her spine. The soft swish of the brushes against the skin of the drum, round and round they go like he’s stirring a potion of pure ecstasy just for me. If there was a heaven, I’d want it to look, sound, smell, taste and feel just like this. Everyone disappears and we are alone and they are seeping into my skin with every passing beat. I’m feeling everything that makes me happy intensified beyond measure and I’m feeling everything that saddens me to excruciating levels. I’m fixated, breathless, and hanging on their every note for they know their way into the pit of my soul where my happiness thrives and my sadness cowers. Tears are streaming down my cheeks because my heart is full and overflowing. We share this private dance until the last strum of the base, the last note from his keys and the final swish of the brush. Robert Glasper’s ‘The Worst’ is heart-wrenching to the bitter end. I am brought back to the here and now, grateful but longing for more.

I reminisce on past lovers and the hunger in those very few moments of my life where my breath was taken away through the melding of our warm skin. Morcheeba’s ‘Undress Me Now’ reminds me of those deeply passionate, sensual snapshots that I look back on with a cheeky smile as it was at that time that I gave birth to an eroticism I had never realized in myself before. And I ache from the near misses of falling in love and experience the ebb and flow of emotion that remain tucked away but which bubble to the surface with Sade’s ‘War of the Heart’ and Jose James’ ‘Desire’.

Sometimes music just enhances my feeling of freedom and knowing that all is right in my world. Sunroof open, the warm sun shining on me from a clear blue sky, and the Notorious B.I.G. invigorating me with his ‘Dom Perignon’. I’m centre stage, belting out the song, bringing whatever dance moves I can muster while driving a stick shift, all to the apparent entertainment of fellow drivers around me.

This is me on music. Not any music but that which transforms me, that which allows me to connect, to escape, to fantasize, to diffuse. It takes me somewhere beautiful, somewhere tragic, places I shouldn’t go, and places I’d like to. It helps me to let go, to give in, to wish, and to hope. It brings me face to face with all that I love, all that I need and all that makes me me. One song can remind me of everything I am blessed with but also those things I long for that I fear I’ll never have. They remind me of the love around me and the love that got away. It is personal, beautiful and essential. As the saying goes, music truly is what feelings sound like.

If you relate to my music/mood connection, if my post rings true of your relationship with sound, if you want to inspire me with your stories or have simply enjoyed what you’ve read and wish to share it with your Medium friends, I shamelessly appreciate your responses and recommends. xo