Thankful for music

It's like witnessing a miracle...

Music is powerful. I don't think I knew to what extent that was true, until I worked in hospice with dementia patients. At the end-stage of this debilitating thief (rotten bastard) of a disease, talking becomes difficult. Expressing feelings is almost impossible outside of gibberish efforts at forming words. Something magical happens when familiar music starts to play. You see, music is stored in a different part of the brain than language. I have seen non-verbal demented patients bust out singing "Old McDonald" when cued with a tune. It is like witnessing a miracle. 

Though my wits are sharp (most of the time), music can still transport me like a DeLorean to another time and place. As a young whippersnapper, I remember driving to the mountains with my dad in his old pickup listening the 8-tracks of Johnny Horton or Tom T. Hall. For those of you that aren't privy to these classic country artists, I'm not surprised. I wasn't allowed to listen to pop music in the 80's, so my choices were limited to church music or classic country. What would you choose? As a side note, I also had a pirated copy of "Mr. Roboto" recorded from the radio onto a Disney book on tape by my brother. He had mercy on my restricted ears. To this day, when I hear Styx, I feel a bit rebellious. I vividly remember the first time I saw MTV. My parents were gone, and my brother figured out how to unscramble the cable box so we could see what was happening in actual pop culture. U2's "Desire" and The Cure's "Love Song" blew my mind. Not only were there thick undertones of drug use by Bono, but a man wearing makeup??? Heck yes!

The blackened abyss...

It wasn't long before I discovered the real motivator to every great musician, writer, and artist. Love. Young puppy love and all the heartbreak that follows typical three-month relationships in high school. How I toiled over Guns n Roses, Pink Floyd, and The Cure- all met with journal themes and poetry ending with "blackened abyss." Independence, identity, and political plights. I have been held hostage by these emotions, and the visceral desire to rewind or repeat the same track endlessly. My young adult years were met with a personal and belated generational movement of the hippie era. The Beatles White Album breathed life into my muse as I sang along to "Savoy Truffle" and "My Guitar Gently Weeps.

I was handed-down an old record player by my dad, as he cleaned out the shed one fateful day. I didn't own any records, and was at a loss where to find them. Due to my economic standing as a waitress, most of my shopping was done in thrift stores. I started sifting through the record collections of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Christmas Classics of the 60's at St. Vincent's, to find what would become the most influential album of my adult life. Fleetwood Mac Rumors. Their raw expressions of conflict, heartache and liberation moved me in ways that would be reinvented over the next decades in ways I had yet to understand. Stevie Nicks provided me with a kinship that got me through some of the darkest moments recorded in my (still) unfolding story. 

It can express rage or tenderness...

Music has gifted me with raw emotion, life, resilience, and hope for all things to come. I am thankful for music and it's passage through time. It has the power to lift me out of darkness, or carry me there kicking and screaming. It can express rage or tenderness. Every week I teach my daughter something new about music. It is my gift to her, that she can identify Tori Amos by her piano and James Taylor by his guitar. That she complains about the length of the into to the Disintegration album by The Cure , and asks why Ani Difranco is so angry. Music is a gift to all of us. One that is held in such a sacred space in our minds, that even dementia can't touch it. Savor it's precious gift. What are you grateful for? Happy Gratitude Tuesday.