Songs Save Me

            The past sounds a little like that.
            The driving off the expelled campus sort of sound.
            The first kiss sort of sound.
            The abandoned Chicago alley sort of sound.
            These aren’t just melodies, you know.
            They are stars and stripes. They are rainbows to a colorblind soul. They are an index file, a map, a hidden thesaurus.
            Maybe it’s not this way with others. But it’s this way with me.
            The older I get, the more I hunger for memories of my father’s father, the one I've heard some say I remind them of. And even in searching my memory vaults, music comes up.
            A man who served under General Patton’s army, driving to a mall and getting out so we could go to the music store to buy a Depeche Mode album.
            What was Papa thinking? Of course, he was simply going He’s my grandson so yeah let’s go.
            There’s the disco I danced at while in third grade. Pink Floyd and Bee Gees were featured. Jessica Lawson was there, too. She foreshadowed my love of the British. I think she had dimples, too. Ah. Third grade love.
            There’s the ninth grade trip to Williamsburg that was so memorable. The two tapes that were brought were “Some Great Reward” by Depeche Mode and “The Swing” by INXS. And this whole experience changed me in a way.
            The musical memories continued. And so many years later—so many blinks that they still seem like yesterday—I have this playlist of recollections fueled by so many wonderful songs.
            Maybe it’s not like this with everybody. Maybe I’m unusual in this way. But music fills my soul. It always has and it always will.
            There’s something about my messy, broken, discombulated childhood that seems perfectly molded by music. Yes, I should say God. But no. God wasn’t there, not that I could see and hear and feel. But God spoke to me all the time through songs. He still does.        
            I love musical memories. I still can hear Gerry Rafferty and picture the summer camp I went to in first grade. We lived in Florida (not Tennessee or Australia or Illinois or Germany or New York or North Carolina).  I remember “Baker Street” on the radio moving me. How could I understand what this singer was actually talking about? But man, it spoke to my soul. It seeped into my bones and still, to this day, I hear that saxophone playing and I’m taken back. Back to a place where I wasn’t grown, I hadn’t failed anybody, I didn’t know anything except how awesome Capture The Flag could be.
            Sometimes the songs end up being ironic when you listen to them again.
            God put this stirring love of song deep in my soul. I know He did. This longing for beauty and for passion and for freedom. This desire to hear songs and be content and know they’re good.
            I have a hundred songs associated with a thousand memories.
            That’s why music means so much to me.
            I didn’t have traditions. The annual July Fourth parade and barbeque and fireworks thing I went to every year? Ha. Every year or two it was a different experience for me. Seriously. Traditions? Yeah, right.
            But music?
            I could finally cling on to something because it wouldn’t leave.
            I wouldn’t have to say goodbye to my songs. They could come with me wherever I’d go.
            And go I went.
            Sometimes I think I’ll forever be that teenager stuck wondering what’s going on. I’m forty-three. Man, that sounds old. It is old in many ways. But sixteen. Yeah. All I have to do is find that song and then I’m headed back there.
            I love Chris Buckley. And Brandon Jeffrey. And if you don’t know them, well, it’s your loss, really. You’re reading this but don’t know them? Seriously. They’re far more interesting than me.
            The songs come alongside my shore in the silence of the night. They remind me. They restore me.
            Why does music mean so much to me? Well, there you go. To the four people interested.
            Songs have saved me in so many ways. And sometimes, they still surprise someone like me.
            Someone who should be past the age of being moved by songs.
            I’ll always be moved by music.

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