A lot of people, many of them guys (or so it has been in my personal experience) really don’t listen to the lyrics of a song. They listen for the “music”, the beat, whatever. I am not one of those people.
I listen to the lyrics of every song I hear – or at least I try to. With some of these new songs, the ones that sound like screaming or screeching, it’s hard for me to pick out the words. Maybe it’s my mid-tone hearing deficit.
I was thinking about it and I realized that, not only do I have whole songs that are indelibly identified with certain events in my life, but that I have specific lines from songs that make me think of certain events or people.
Songs, after all, begin as poems that someone sets to music. Poems crystallize an emotion or experience into a universal form to which the rest of the world can compare their own lives.
Perhaps because I have been listening to more music lately while I walk the treadmill, I have realized that I have somehow found my philosophy of life in lyrics. Or is it that the lyrics express the philosophy of life that I have developed over my life? It’s a little like the chicken and the egg – which came first?
I have favorite hymns. They are favorites not because of the music but because they express far more eloquently than I could the feelings that I have for God in my life. Often in church, when I see what the next hymn will be, I tell my husband, “Oh, this is one of my favorites!” He finally told me the whole lot of them were my favorites, but that isn’t true. It really is just the ones that speak to my heart.
I have favorite ballads – favorites because they tell of my experiences in life, love and loss. There are a lot of them, too, because I have had a myriad of life experiences over nearly 57 years.
I have songs that are favorites because they talk about how to treat others or how to treat our planet. There are some that are favorites because they were the favorites of family or friends that have passed – my grandfather, my mom. I wonder what it says about my grandfather that one of his favorite songs was “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.”
Music was a big part of my early childhood. One of my earliest memories is taking Sunday drives with my parents and sister. My mother would have the radio on and she would sing all of the songs she could. As we got older, we would all be singing those songs. Singing songs, even without a great voice or ability, has been one of the greatest joys of my life as well as one of the biggest consolations. I recall many times when, upset or hurt or sad, I would put an album on and simply sing out loud, as best I could. There’s a Neil Diamond song that says it better than I could:
Me and you are subject to the blues now and then
But when you take the blues and make a song
You sing them out again
(Song Sung Blue written by Neil Diamond)
I’ve been singing more lately – songs that have helped me to sort through feelings and understand life.
Thank God for the poets who are brave enough to put their own selves on the line to create the lyrics I can live by.