Monday, February 24, 2014

Journal day: A story and a song

This week's Journal Day prompt, courtesy of Danielle who blogs at Sometimes Sweet, is about music. I love music. I am not musically inclined, don't understand sheet music or notes, and can't sing to save my own life - but music is transformative for me. From tears to screaming out my rage to utter joy, music toggles something inside me that almost nothing else can touch.

There are so many songs that bring up near-visceral recall. Memories from childhood, from my teens, early days of my relationship with Colin - we bonded over music really, both recognising how music can shape a soul and inform thoughts. I feel like I am moving through life to a soundtrack, so I have a lot of songs that come to mind. One memory in particular was either my third or fourth tattoo; it's the title of a song by The Ramones on my left hip. I was on a business trip for work and had a chance to stop in to visit a friend who lived in the area. Her husband is a tattoo artist, so I had him do the ink. He'd never heard of the song and he wanted to get into the feel of it, so I played the song on my iPod while he did the tattoo. I first heard this particular song when I was 12 or 13 and it stayed with me forever after that, representing something both immature and future-shaping for me. Listening to the song while getting the tattoo was a pretty cool experience.

What I would really like to write about though, is "Drift Away" by Dobie Gray. This song has been covered many times and I want to say that I first heard a version by the Doobie Brothers or Steppenwolf or someone like that, but I can't really be certain.

When I was a girl I was very close to my dad. I didn't see him often, but the memories I have are of us out in his work shop - Dad working on his motorcycle and me perched on a stool nearby, handing him tools and asking him questions. The radio -and I'm talking AM/FM here, folks- was on a rock and roll station and there were a few songs that, when they'd come on, we would stop what we were doing and would sing at the top of our lungs.

My dad is kind of a complicated guy. He wasn't a goofy dad like some guys are. He didn't tell dumb jokes or act funny or "pal around." He was serious and quiet; I am the same, and was as a child too. We didn't really let go and be silly too often, so those moments of loud singing (and maybe a little air guitar or pantomimed microphone singing) stand out for me. In retrospect, that's when I felt most connected to my dad. When there was nothing more important than singing out loud and letting that music take over. To 'drift away' and let our souls be free - from worry, and obligations not met. Free from disappointment and from the pain of stuff that didn't work out. To be free from expectations and responsibility and shame.

I hear this song now, and it hits me in a place I am not always aware of - a place where sounds have substance and music can rub me raw. When I hear this song I feel confused, because life is weird and my child-self was in constant torment because I so desperately wanted to be a grown up.

And I feel hopeful. My grownup self knows how to overcome obstacles and pain, and it knows how to find answers.

And I feel useless - sometimes spending time on pursuits that don't help me, on things that are contrary to my goals in life. Or when I forget that I have goals, and instead just let life happen around me.

And I feel overwhelmed. By the world and by my own inability or unwillingness to do the right thing; by the actions and behaviour of others. By the sheer number of things I have done wrong, or don't do at all, or rebel against.

And I feel grateful - for the people who love me, and can carry me through rough times. Those people who have the ability to uplift me and make me feel better. And for the people who don't try to fix me or my problems, but with whom I can just sit and quietly have an experience.

And above all that, I feel the power of the beat, the power it gives me to shut my brain down and relax, to let the music take over, and scrub away pain and doubt and Monday mornings. In its place is left a quiet acknowledgment that life is still confusing and weird, and sometimes it hurts so much that I'm surprised I am not bleeding from somewhere important, but for the next 3 minutes and 53 seconds I can lose myself in joy, in the people who believe in me, and in the rhythm and rhyme and harmony.

For those few minutes I can remember being really connected with my dad, and I can free my soul, and get lost in the rock and roll and, well... I can drift away.


Jess said...

Man, this post really hit home for me. Growing up, my dad was always on the more serious and quiet side as well, and I loved those moments when he would unwind and let loose a bit! Now that I am older, he is much more relaxed and a little more outgoing and we have those happy times together much more often (I can imagine life gets a little less stressful once your kids grow up into adults and you don't have to worry about them 24/7--or you do, but it's a different kind of worry). Anyway, thank you for posting! You are a very vivid writer and it's something I can definitely appreciate. Take care!

Jade said...

Hi Jess, thanks for your kind words! My dad is the same as you describe yours now too... way more relaxed. He can be a bit silly now and it's so much fun to experience. We have a great bond now too, it's interesting to me how differently I can interact with my family now that I'm an adult.

Thanks for reading, have a great week!

Anonymous said...

Really enjoyed reading your memory. I have similar moments with music that I link to my dad because he was often quiet and serious. When you said you remember watching your dad work on a motorcycle it reminded me of being really young and getting to help him work on an old truck he was rebuilding. He always had the radio (AM/FM as well) turned on while he worked.

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