Music Makes the Moment

May 31, 2010 § 14 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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The last week of 2009…

December 28, 2009 § 8 Comments

It’s the last week of 2009.  This Christmas has been rare in that I haven’t gotten caught up in all of the hubbub.  My stress levels have been at an all time low.  I’ve enjoyed every moment, every person, and every morsel of food more than I ever have.  And now, with the year on its final legs, I think I’m going to take this week to relive and relish the highlights of 2009, and decide how I will set the stage for 2010.

One way people attempt to start out a new year is with resolutions.  And while the intentions behind resolutions are usually good, so many people have set themselves up for failure.  The reasons for not following through on a resolution depend on person to person.  For me, I think it’s been because there’s always that expectation that you try hard to follow through, but nobody ever actually makes them, so if you give up on your resolutions after a month or two… well, heck, at least you tried, right?  This year, I want my resolutions to stick.  And so they won’t be resolutions.  Because taking one day out of the year to look at what you want and setting a goal isn’t enough.  It takes changing our day to day to really make change in our lives.

I’ve been coming across the quote from Ghandi a lot lately “Be the change that you want to see in the world.”  That has been my focus for 2009, and will continue to be my focus in 2010.  Finding alignment in my own life and in what I want to see in the world.  Being the change.

During the last couple of months, David and I have been talking about a New Year’s feature to do.  We’ve gone to our networks for some feedback, and thought through a couple of iterations of what this might look like.  We will be kicking off the New year with a bit of an experiment.  Over the course of the first 10 weeks in 2010, we’ll be posting 10 Things to Inspire and Motivate in 2010.

All the best for a motivational and inspirational New Year.

Generations and inspirations

November 23, 2009 § 5 Comments

It’s a rare, rainy October night. Usually by now, there’s snow covering the ground, no rain drops falling against my window in a steady stream. It’s about the time of night, although not the time of year, when I would wake up to the sound of big, wet rain drops hitting the eaves trough outside my window. I would lay there for a few moments, just listening, and then I would grab a blanket and head upstairs and out the backdoor. I loved watching for lightning and listening to the rain with my Dad. He was usually already out there.

We didn’t usually say anything, my Dad has never been much of a talker. But we would sit and listen, for what felt like hours at a time. I found so much peace in those moments… such rare, wonderful moments.

It’s that same feeling of inner peace and contentment that I feel now, wrapped in the silent blanket that the wee hours bring. I always find inspiration in these moments, and the memory of listening to the rain with my dad always finds its way in too.

He’s part of what inspires me. His caring strength, and quiet nature have taught me to find a different kind of appreciation in observing the details, and keeping them as they are, the way nature intended, following the natural flow and evolution of what’s come before them.

That, I would say, is one of the corner stones by which I live my life, by finding joy and beauty in the details. My Dad has taught me to take a step back when nobody else thinks to, to contemplate what’s in front of me and not take it for granted. And to always find a way back to myself, back to where I’m peaceful.

It all makes a neat little circle. Observing the details, finding rare moments, being at peace.

So if you ever find yourself caught up in something, look around you, is anyone else paying attention? Maybe you’ll find a little piece of the world to capture as well, a piece that’s just for you. Your anchor to a moment of inspiration, or calm. Take a look. See what you find.

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