I grew up listening to my dad belt out the melodies of Elvis Presley into a microphone, over and over and over. He had a karaoke system set up in the house and he would record himself while singing and strumming his favorite tunes. Sometimes he’d throw in a little classic Country. At the time I didn’t know what karaoke was and that other people in the world actually did this too. Though I guess what was most bizarre about it to me was that it was mostly just Elvis. It was as if he were trying to harness ‘The King’ in an effort to be ‘The King’, narcissist that he is. Years later I would discover karaoke for myself in a bar when I was 18 and scoring pitchers of rum and coke from friends who were 21. My go to was Love Shack. My stage name was Amilicious. I guess the old man finally rubbed off on me.
Consequently, music entered my life very early and it was ongoing. Once and a while my dad would let me sing into his microphone while he recorded me on his big fancy reel. I always liked it when he took out his guitar. Its home was a beat up leather case with bright pink velvet liner, antithetic to the case’s rough exterior. Somehow, when he opened up that case, it smelled like opportunity; it carried a scent that was old and new at the same time. And the guitar itself… a beautifully crafted instrument that had clearly been treasured for years. I can remember how shiny the gloss made it, the duo toned wood of the body, dark trim, ivory bridge and pearly fret markers. Hearing him strum and pick his guitar, casting harmonious sounds through the air – It was the closest I ever felt to him.
And so it was at a young age that I learned how powerful music could be. My father is a man shackled by his inability to overcome himself; someone who has long lost the capacity to draw anyone near to the place where his insecurities and vulnerability might be exposed. He shut that door and built those walls; he isn’t letting anyone in. Yet there he was, singing of love, remorse, and desire. What I quickly figured out was that through music my father could escape. Through others’ songs he could communicate things he otherwise felt it impossible to say. I remember being confused by the paradox–How could he sing about love, but not express it to his family??
Nevertheless, music was, is, and will always be one of my favorite ways of escaping and communicating. Music is an art. And just like any other art form, it is there to say something, to convey some meaning, to reflect what someone was thinking, feeling, experiencing. Music has the power to take me somewhere I would rather be: somewhere connected.
Music has found me in times of pain, suffering, sorrow, and despair when I felt lost in a world I couldn’t make sense of. It’s also been there to lift me to higher levels of healing, peace, joy, understanding, love, compassion.
I get lost in music that rips my heart out, buries it endlessly into the ground only to pull it back out from the depths where it can finally feel free. When I’m listening to music, I want to feel the chords bleeding through the air waves. I want music to sound as though its player is making love to the notes echoing through their fingertips; music that entices me with its quick, subtle pulsations, yet demands sudden movement of my body with every loud bang, baNG, BANG! I want to feel in a song what I have felt my whole life; reassurance that I have been heard through someone else’s lyrics or melody. I cherish music that speaks every truth I’ve ever known.
Music is like love. It is constantly progressing, blending old and new elements. At times it tries to mimic itself, giving way to monotony, leaving less room for spontaneity and creativity. Nevertheless, predictability is not always a bad thing. What was once your favorite song can be over played and begin to bore you. You may even grow to detest it. On the other hand, there are those songs you will never tire of hearing, no matter how many times you play them on repeat. They will continue to take you everywhere you wanted to go and leave you breathless, heart pounding, yearning for more of the same.