And I Think To Myself….

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Indeed, what a wonderful world. Louis Armstrong, with his caramelized soulful voice, and his priceless smile, reminds us of this simple notion like nobody else.

I should probably put a warning label on this post because “Satchmo-type optimism” tends to overtake me every January. I’m not exactly sure why, but it’s most likely because not only do I get to cartwheel with you into a fresh new calendar year, but I also get to put another candle on top my birthday cake (hopefully a decadent chocolate espresso mousse cake).

Yep, it’s my birthday week, and as you might have guessed, I’m a sucker for birthdays. After all, the alternative…well.…

I can think of no better way to celebrate than to dance in a rain of music.

Why music?

Because music makes me happy. Simple as that.

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It also makes me feel young, raucous and alive. No matter how many candles adorn my cake, the minute I blast The Beatles, U2 or Bruce Springsteen I’m twenty years old again (click on the links and hit the video play buttons if you’d like to feel that way too)!

Music moves me like no other artform.

It inspires, motivates me, and often leaves me in awe. It also makes me feel like I can be a better person. It reminds me that anything is possible, especially if I ignore all limitations I might place on myself.

If Aretha Franklin, who is anything but an opera singer, can bring me to tears with her jaw-dropping version of Nessun Dorma, then anything is possible.

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If Mick Jagger can still prance around the stage and rip it up with the boys when he’s now a senior citizen, why should anything stop the rest of us? It may not be pretty, but it’s still damn fun, and after all, isn’t that what life is all about?

Music is about setting ourselves free—it’s our anthem to create and to Imagine, just like John Lennon espoused so many years ago. And it’s often our call to action–to free ourselves from what we cannot tolerate–from war and racism to hatred, poverty and inequality.

Music is about possibility. It is about celebrating who we are, and where we’ve been. It’s storytelling in its most magnificent form, without restraint. Bob Dylan, whose lyrics defined a generation, is arguably one of the best storytellers of all time.

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Music also creates a time capsule of our lives, instantly taking us back to a time and place, or capturing a moment in which we are living right now.

I can recall every chapter of my life with music, and I bet you can too.

As a child, our house was filled with music–everything from Mom’s John Denver and Tom Jones to Dad’s George Benson and Herbie Hancock to my brother’s Beatles, Aerosmith, Led Zeplin, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and Credence Clearwater Revival. And let’s not forget my tween years which reverberated with Peter Frampton, Steve Miller, Fleetwood Mac, Boston, the Beach Boys and god forbid, Shaun Cassidy.

Every wonderful and awkward moment got stuffed into that musical time capsule of mine.

High school was about Michael Jackson, AC/DC, the Go-Go’s and a plethora of 80’s crap created during the MTV revolution. And college? Any time I hear The Stones, U2, Talking Heads, Violent Femmes or Bob Marley, I’m immediately transported back to my dorm, remembering all the fun had with friends on more than one raucous occasion.

Just about every memorable moment of my life has been accompanied by music–from the first dance at our wedding to our dive into parenthood to road trips, concerts (of course), holidays, graduations, family memorials and numerous athletic adventures. It takes little more than a guitar riff or drum beat to bring it all right back.

But this is what I love most about music: music brings us together like nothing else. Because it crosses all boundaries, it doesn’t matter if you’re rich, poor, young, old, gay, straight, black, white or purple. It doesn’t matter where you’ve been or where you’re going, music is about being in the present and sharing in a moment.

As I sign off from this post, I can think of nothing more this birthday girl would like to do than to thank all the talented musicians of the world for giving me (and all of you) one of the greatest gifts of all.

And also share one more for the road…Take it away, Sir Paul and friends

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PS: Thanks for indulging me. I’ll be back talking about photography in my next post. In the meantime, I’d love to know how music has impacted your life. What does your personal music time capsule sound like? Is it filled with Motown? Gospel? Opera? Beethoven? Or good old rock-n-roll?

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28 thoughts on “And I Think To Myself….

  1. I’m late coming to the party, but you celebrate Capricorn birthday month, don’t you? Love your optimism! I’m charged. Great tunes and what a load of memories. Like you, Becky, I play music all the time and can adjust mood accordingly. Rock on!

  2. Happy Birthday, Becky!

    Music is a major part of my life. It’s seen me through good times and bad. I love all kinds of music but there’s a special place in my heart for the classics–Beatles, Doors, the Who, Yes, Steely Dan,Joni Mitchell, Carole King, Carly Simon…Rod Stewart…I could go on forever. There’s about 7,000 songs on my iPhone and I love them all.

  3. Happy Birthday! Love this post. Music definitely feeds my soul and keeps me young at heart. Though I never learned an instrument as a child, each of my children are passionate about their music and play multiple instruments and even have their own rock band.

    My friends and I have recently rediscovered the fun of going to see bands play live again and I even went to New Orleans for Jazzfest last year to see Mumford and Sons and the Avett Brothers…I had the best time!

    Thanks so much for sharing. You are a kindred spirit!

  4. I have to admit that every time I hear U2, Talking Heads or the Stones I too am transported back to either the dorm or the bomb shelter. Also Billy Idol’s “Dancing with Myself” brings back many crazy memories. Sometimes it seems like just yesterday. Have a wonderful, happy, filled with joy Birthday and “sink another drink” for me and toast to those wonderful memories. I will do the same for you. 🙂

  5. This is my childhood music: Simon and Garfunkel, the Beatles, Carly Simon, Carole King, and my ultimate favorite, James Taylor. Any time I hear music from these artists (or really any top 40 music of the 70’s) I’m transported back to my those days of simplicity and peace. You’re right–music is the saving grace of the world! (And I’m a piano teacher so I should know!) happy Birthday, Becky–I’ll see you Monday!

    • OH YES, I should have mentioned Simon and Garfunkel. That filled our house too! I still love that music, and have amazing memories of seeing Paul Simon under a harvest moon with Jeffrey at the Santa Barbara Bowl a couple years ago.

      And you, my friend, have such an important job. Your students are lucky to have such a dedicated and compassionate teacher!

  6. Happy birthday! Uh, is it bad of me that when you asked what these singers all have in common, my first thought was arthritis medications? Not that I have the right to cast aspersions.

    They are all great artists, timeless in their way – and I have ’em all on my iPod, along with Bing Crosby and Black Eyed Peas and Beethoven. Music is something, like reading, I *must* have every day.

  7. Happy Birthday, Becky! Thanks for the wonderful concert. And the Happy Birthday song was an especially nice treat: it was recorded in the Red Square in Moscow. Whenever the camera panned out, I was reminded of my youth and the city I lived in and loved before I immigrated to Canada. As I grew up in Russia, I didn’t know most of the musicians that were household names in America. Some of your favorites I heard for the first time only a few years ago. My musical preferences run towards classical music. I enjoy Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, and Dmitry Shostakovich. And I love the Russian Bard Bulat Okudzhava. You probably haven’t heard the name and in any case you can’t understand his songs, but he was an icon of my student years. He was a poet who sang his poems with a guitar, and his tapes spread through the Russian cities like a breath of fresh air. He wasn’t a dissident, just an honest writer who sang what he thought. It saddens me that I can’t share his songs with my writers-friends. But he is available on youtube for those who are interested.

    • Olga, I always enjoy your perspective. Thanks for sharing your memories of Russia and your life in music. I’m glad you got a kick out of the Birthday Song in Red Square. What a moment! I will have to check out Bulat Okudzhava on YouTube. Thanks for expanding my horizons!

  8. Happy Birth Day Becky. Every wish you wish, may come true. You are a wonderful person, who deserves every happiness in life.:)
    It was nice to read a post on music, although it’s quite unexpected in your blog. Just like you i am a big music lover. I may not know all the singers you mentioned . Still U2 is my fav. And their song “With or with out you” is one among my all time fav. I listen these songs at least 3-4 hours per day.:)
    And yes, just like you I can also recall every chapter of my life with music.

    • Thank you Arindam! Your kind words always bring a smile to my face. And yes, I’m sure my music post was quite unexpected. Sometimes I just can’t help myself! I decided just to go with it, especially since blogging is about having fun and sharing a slice of what moves us. It’s fun to know that you are a U2 fan as well.

  9. Great to read a blog about music where I recognize all of the musicians. Bruce, U2, the Stones, Talking Heads, The Beatles , Motown, Philly soul, latin jazz and salsa – just about anything except white gospel, heavy three-chord metal and really loud, unmelodic rap.

    • Michael, I’m glad you enjoyed this post. It sounds like we have a lot in common in the music department. I have to laugh about your comment indicating that perhaps you don’t know many contemporary musicians. I often feel the same, but as our daughter gets older and branches out from all the tunes I’ve swaddled her in since she was born, I’m now starting to enjoy her music. I took me a while to wrap my head around Lady Gaga and the likes, but now she and others are becoming my staples–particularly when I run or work-out.

  10. Happy Birthday, dear one, you are beautiful inside and out and I have appreciated every post since I started following your blog. I wish you and your very talented husband many more years of happiness and discovery. I enjoy almost all styles and forms of music. I am, however, primarily a jazz and blues guy. David Sanborn, Joshua Redman, John Coltrane and John Harle are all on the docket for today. Recently, I have been enjoying the Big Band era and much of the music of the thirties and forties. If I may make a romantic suggestion, order Romantic Sax for Lovers from Philips. It will set the mood and keep you in it! Also, it has my all time favorite Sax song, Harlem Nocturne. Many great sax players have done that song and they all do it beautifully. I simply love it. Dan

    • Thank you, my friend! And thanks for sharing your music with me. I just played Harlem Nocturne. So rich! I can see why it’s one of your favorites. And ooh la la about Romantic Sax! I think I must round up a CD!

      As always, thanks for your ongoing support of my blog, and for your ever-fun, insightful and charming comments! You always add a bright spot to my day.

  11. I completely agree – music crosses all boundaries and nothing beats standing in a crowd of people, listening to a beloved band, swaying in time – in that moment it doesn’t matter who we are, we’re all just people who love the music.

    My music time capsule starts with a mixture of big bands and musicals (from my mother) and then Buddy Holly, Arlo Guthrie, Pete Seger from my father. The Beatles will always remind me of my youngest aunts who were my baby sitters. I was an orchestra-girl through college, so certain pieces like Mozart’s Requiem will send me to a specific time and place. I was in 9th grade when MTV first went on the air and I forced myself to listen to pop music (since i felt out of touch with my peers thanks to orchestra and a love of folk), so high school was filled with The Boss, Duran Duran, The Police, etc. College was more Violent Femmes, Depeche Mode and Oingo Boingo. Now I’ve returned to folks, but darn that Lady Gaga she’s become a guilty pleasure.

    Happy Birthday!!!!

    • Darn that Lady Gaga, indeed! She’s one of my contemporary favorites too. While I sometimes yearn for “good” old music, somebody like Lady Gaga comes along and reminds me that there will always good music because there will always be good storytellers.

      And Violent Femmes!! I’m so glad you reminded me of that. They were a staple in college. Blister in the Sun! : -)

      I played the sexy oboe when I was a kid, then switched to saxophone, only to be pulled away by sports. What I wouldn’t give now to be able to play an instrument!

      Thanks for stopping by my blog and taking time to leave me a comment. I thoroughly enjoyed your music time capsule!

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