Music Makes the Moment

May 31, 2010 § 15 Comments

It was a typical Saturday morning as I was getting ready to walk the dog.

Our weekend morning ritual begins with sitting in the hot tub listening to some tunes and guzzling some freshly-brewed java. The Beatles’ Here Comes the Sun came on as I re-entered the house for breakfast before hitting the trail.

What a perfect song to begin the day! Mr. Sun smiled down on a great trek.

And who better than the Beatles to provide the background music to an uplifting day? They are arguably the most important band of all time. Their music is timeless – often imitated, never duplicated.

As I walked, I began musing about how important music is to me, either making my day when I am already happy or helping me come to terms with life when I’m down.

It’s only natural that either Wendy or I would write about music in this blog. We often use a lyric from a song or the name of a tune to describe a situation or an idea when we speak. I began an earlier blog with a lyric from Tom Cochrane’s Life is a Highway.

My wife says I use musical lines at the drop of a hat.

She’s right. Where better than stories told through the lyrics of music to find a handy comparator? Over time, every conceivable situation has been described in song.

Although I’m a good old time rock and roll fan, the blues and jazz are also favourite genres.

Different music suits varying situations.

While a pop tune from the Fab Four is perfect to spring out the door on a walk with the dog, I prefer nothing more than the gritty, cutting words of Warren Zevon in songs like Lawyers, Guns and Money while cleaning up in the kitchen. Not sure why. Perhaps getting involved in the late singer/songwriter’s ballads is a good way to forget that I’m doing a task that no one relishes.

I have seen many of my beloved performers in concert, including Bob Seger, Bruce Springsteen, B.B. King, the Rolling Stones, George Thorogood, Stevie Ray Vaughan, ZZ Top, Fleetwood Mac, Jeff Healey, Burton Cummings and Randy Bachman, and Colin James.

Some of my favourite lyrics have come from these artists.

When I say or do something on the irreverent side, Thorogood provides the perfect line … Bbbaad to the Bone.

Springsteen and Fleetwood Mac bring hope with Keep Your Eye on the Prize (The Boss did a remake of the Pete Seeger song on his tribute album to the folk legend) and Don’t Stop (a song from the 1977 Rumours album) respectively.

Taking care of Business from Bachman’s BTO days was a perfect anthem for my time operating a communications firm.

Other songs have even deeper meaning.

Simon and Garfunkel’s hit Bridge Over Troubled Waters is a song I think of when I’ve brought peace to a situation or helped someone in need of a friend. It was also chosen by my Grade 7 class for confirmation.

My eyes well up when I hear the Beatles Let it Be because of its gripping inspirational quality.

What could be more heartening than John Lennon’s Imagine? Ironically, this peace-preaching musician would die at the hands of a crazed gunman.

Carolyn Dawn Johnson’s Complicated song reminds me of how I’ve put up barriers at times with new people in my life.

Billy Joel’s Innocent Man was important to me when I began the relationship with my best friend and now wife.

I’ve used the Trooper song Raise a little Hell to remind people who are bemoaning their lot in life that it is up to them to take matters into their own hands:

If you don’t like

What you got

Why don’t you change it?

If your world is all screwed up

Rearrange it

Raise a little Hell …

There is no better way than music to pay tribute to someone you care about. We recently said goodbye to Frank Drodge of our Facilities Department at the City of Grande Prairie. He died far too young at age 50 on May 10. Frank was also known as the drummer and promoter of the local band Anywhere But Here.

Frank was remembered for his hard work, kindness and good cheer and I loved exchanging yarns of favourite concerts and bands.

I bid you adieu, Frank, with a favourite song title from Bob Seger.

Rock and Roll Never Forgets.

Other songs bring back happy memories.

My father couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket, but I can remember him often reciting a favourite song written during the First World War, There’s A Long, Long Trail – A Winding.

I remember little from my high school graduation – come on now, it was 32 years ago – but recall vividly Queen’s We Will Rock You belting out at the bush party I attended (I wonder if my Dad ever discovered that I lifted a bottle of rum from his liquor cabinet for the occasion).

Nothing is more memorable than the prank I pulled on my wife-to-be at the 1983 St. Paul Journal Christmas Party. I bet her dinner that the “next song” would be Seger’s Old Time Rock and Roll.

Little did she know that the DJ was also the bus driver for the hockey team I covered for the paper, and I’d rigged the wager. Mmm, that was good Chinese food. I later reciprocated with a spaghetti dinner.

There are campfire songs to enjoy with a bunch of friends. Show tunes such as those from the Beverly Hillbillies and Gilligan’s Island are fun to sing along to while making a long trip and needing to stay awake.

That was a fun memory during our overnight trip to the West Coast from Grande Prairie in 1987.

It was time to pull over for an early morning meal when we started into Raffi’s Down by the Bay!

So, music really does make the moment – sometimes it makes a sad moment happy. Other times, it helps makes sense of a situation.

At other instances, it is good just to take away the Sound of Silence.


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§ 15 Responses to Music Makes the Moment

  • Diane says:

    Very interesting post David. There are certain parallels for me as well. The difference for me is that once the 80s hit, I completely quit listening to music so I’m not at all familiar with any band or song after the 70s. I still find music has an emotional effect, but only if it’s one of the ‘old’ ones from pre-80s.

  • Awesome David. Every word rings true about music and our moments!
    Question for you…did you live in St.Paul Alberta?

  • Beth Warren says:

    Great post David… and very strange that you should send that to me today.

    I am very much a “sign” person.. and very often, songs speak to me as signs …. it makes sense to me.. don’t call the men in white coats just yet…

    Strangely.. having not a great day for some reason. And then I read your post and several songs you mentioned resonate for certain reasons with me as well…. and although my mood isn’t better quite yet, I shall take this as a sign that it will be.


  • I love music and I love lyrics. I use them for inspiration, to help better express a feeling or an idea I’ve had. I used to post my favorite lyrics on my blog and I still sometimes do. I can’t really imagien life without music, all kinds of music 🙂 While the lyrics of Depeche Mode and Queen have always been among my favorites, I have to say I’ve listened to some Spanish lyrics – different artists, different musical styles – that have touched me in an unexpected way. I try to listen to music from every possible genre. Each has something to suit a certain mood. As for the Beatles, the song I love most is Yesterday. Although I first listened to it in an awful sitution – I was about 13 and we had just buried my first dog ever, Kelly, although it’s not a particulary happy song, it always makes me feel better 🙂

  • Andrea says:

    Everything you said in your post has resonated with me. When I think of memories, people, places or emotions, there is always a song tied to that occasion. That’s how I remember things. I’ve seen all of the same bands as you (thanks to my parents musical influence on me) and can easily understand why particular songs affect you the way they do……

  • Kathy Stoughton says:

    Hey, Dave. Enjoyed this blog a lot. I totally agree with you regarding the effect music can have on us and how a certain tune can bring back memories. It is funny that you mentioned the Beatles several times as Darrell was a diehard fan, as I’m sure you remember. I miss him everyday and sometimes hearing a song like “Here Comes the Sun” can really lift my mood. It sort of says to me that everything will be alright, if you know what I mean. I try to buy the boys Beatles themed gifts (lunchboxes, mugs, t-shirts, etc.) that will remind them of their dad and his passion for their music. Hopefully it is a reminder of a connection to him that will make them smile. I even bought them Beatles postage stamps one year and gave them to them on Father’s Day to remind them of what an awesome, loving dad they were blessed to have. Love to you, Dave, today and always.

  • Erica Viegas says:

    Loved the blog Dave….I feel that way so many times….that a song brings back memories I’ve forgotten about or describes something 10 times better than I ever could! You might enjoy this song, I think written incredibly, about how songs can bring emotions back to us :

  • Pamella says:

    Music is the language of the heart, the soul so it is not surprising that it captures ALL human emotions from happiness to sorrow, anger, lose, etc.

    Every morning I need to have my music on to spur me into action, in my car to dazzle my mind, and to fill the silence wherever I am. It is such a habit that I think I take for granted where the magic is truly coming from.

    I always am searching for new music just because we are society of new things and access.

    This post is reminding me to revisit the classics, the songs that I love and cherish and ask myself, why? To listen to the lyrics and feel the beat and imagine the voice that gave it life and the heart that gave it meaning.

    Music brings us all together and it reaches, touches, and crosses all borders and differences.

    It’s a beautiful thing! Thank you for sharing.

    If you ever have a chance check out Nina Simone’s version of Here Comes the Sun. What a song, Beatles or not, to wake up to!

  • Sharon says:

    Love your blog, David! How true! Music has been a part of humanity’s journey since the time before we could speak with each other with words. It truly is the language of the heart, communicating directly from heart to heart.

  • Emilie says:

    Love this blog! Music is a huge part of my life and it’s wonderful to hear stories of how music has influenced other people’s lives. Although our taste in music might be a little different, the feelings felt through music are the same. My “tear jerk-er” would have to be Il Divo’s – Mama. Brings me back to when my mother lost her mother, and the tears it brought to her face when she listened to this song the first time. I can’t imagine what life would be like without her, such a beautiful song. And of course you got to have some good dancing tunes while doing dishes, it is a must for me!
    Keep writing Dave, I do enjoy reading!

  • Megan says:

    This post had me saying, “I do that too” or, “that is exactly how I feel” the entire time! When I read or listen to people talk about how music makes them feel it really drives home the idea that music is the universal language. Although all of us look for and hear different things when it comes to music, it still makes us feel the same emotions!
    There are songs out there that can make me cry uncontrollably or involuntarily smile within the first 20 seconds, all because I have attached it to a memory, a specific moment, time or person. Isn’t that amazing? It’s the second best thing, next to smell, for bringing up memories, in my opinion. I wish I could put into words how music has shaped me over the years, but I would be here all day. Wonderful post, great discussion.

  • Sam Costa says:

    I love this!
    Music can mean so much to everyone in so many different ways and it expresses emotion in ways that words can’t. Sometimes it brightens a bad day, sometimes it brings back memories and in special cases it changes your life.

    One story I like to share is from the time I saw The Foo Fighters play at Rexall place in October of 2011. Their song “Best of You” had been a song that helped me through many rough times, and hearing it live sparked up so many emotions. I remember singing along at the top of my lungs until I cried. At first I felt silly but then I looked around and noticed that thousands of other people felt the same emotion as I did. In that moment, an entire stadium came together and understood eachother. It was absolutely magical.

    As someone who love music with all my heart, it makes me so happy to hear about how much it means to other people.

  • Acacia says:

    This is perfect! Music is everything to me. I use it for everything whether its just to pass the time or to help me get through something. I’m always listening to it or humming something. Everything is a form of music if you let yourself hear it.

  • Lesa says:

    “Here Comes the Sun”, a beautiful melody I fell in love with long before I heard the words. My daughter’s figure skating Coach had selected this tune for her freestyle. I Loved the airy fresh feeling of the melody that suited my daughter both in her skating style and personality. She flourished that year and went on to win Provincials. I have since heard the lyrics and it is beautiful, however, I prefer my memory of the melody alone and watching my girl.

  • Erin Stashko says:

    This blog is a ‘notable’ one, David! I enjoyed reading through your reflections on music as well as discovering the various songs you brought forth in your article.

    What a great way to describe the Beatles band! It’s just as you wrote: “They are arguably the most important band of all time. Their music is timeless – often imitated, never duplicated.”

    You’ve discovered the true reason for music, right here in your words: “I began musing about how important music is to me, either making my day when I am already happy or helping me come to terms with life when I’m down.” You further noted, “Over time, every conceivable situation has been described in song.”

    The latter statement makes me reflect on music and how it will never stop recounting situations and most importantly, human emotions – of the past, present and future, through the ‘terminology’ of music that is deeply ingrained within the heart. The more we listen to a meaningful song, the more solace we obtain. Truly, the more music one seeks to really ‘hear’ – to hear whatever underlying message that they glean from it, the easier it is to come to terms with, or resolve real life situations and events.

    “Different music suits varying situations.”

    That, it does! I can’t imagine how miserable the music world, one’s world for that matter, would be, if only bright & cheery songs were on the radio, as opposed to mixing it up with deep, soul searching songs filled with melancholy. Even though the songs sound ‘down’ in mood, they often are the songs that help soothe one’s very core. What’s better than a sad song when you feel sad?

    Your description of the Beatles, “Let it Be” relates to a song I am familiar with: “Leave it in the Hands of the Lord.” I first heard this song in the Catholic school system in elementary school, and it is a song that to this day, 40-some years later, runs though my head on occasion:

    “Leave it in the Hands of the Lord, Leave it in the hands of the Lord.
    Do not worry over what to eat
    What to wear, or put upon your feet
    Trust in Him, go do your best today
    Just leave it in the hands of the Lord.”

    The last line always made me feel very much at peace with God, the world and myself.

    Another song that was helpful and encouraging to me during my teen years was Amy Grant’s “Everywhere I Go.” It spoke volumes to me during the times I was trying to discover ‘who’ I was; I often felt lonely, despite being surrounded by friends and family. During those times was when He was a source of comfort, who ’embraced’ me through Amy’s song. He accepted me for who I was – just as I was.

    The paragraph you wrote, listed below, made my heart sink low. I knew of the irony of Lennon’s death – but when stated as you did, the tragedy becomes that much more poignant. “What could be more heartening than John Lennon’s Imagine? Ironically, this peace-preaching musician would die at the hands of a crazed gunman.”

    I can understand this: “Carolyn Dawn Johnson’s Complicated song reminds me of how I’ve put up barriers at times with new people in my life.”

    You’re spot on! It can be difficult to ‘let someone in’ to see us as we really are. Just as Johnson states in the song,

    “It’s so complicated
    I’m so frustrated
    I wanna hold you close
    I wanna push you away
    I wanna make you go
    I wanna make you stay.”

    Letting someone into our lives creates an impact and often there is a push-pull aspect with emotions and feelings when getting to know people. Learning to trust fosters life long friendships, when invoked.

    What a fitting tribute song for your friend, Frank Drodge:

    “I bid you adieu, Frank, with a favourite song title from Bob Seger.
    Rock and Roll Never Forgets.”

    If your Dad is as astute in his observations as his son is, then ‘Yes’ is the answer to the following that you wrote: “I wonder if my Dad ever discovered that I lifted a bottle of rum from his liquor cabinet for the occasion.”

    Ha ha! So, your bet paid off in Chinese Food and the ‘bonus’ is that you two will always share in that fun memory of the Bob Seger Classic song, “Old Time Rock & Roll.”

    You closed your article with a solid statement: “At other instances, it is good just to take away the Sound of Silence.”

    Hear, hear!

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