I have always loved music. You were about three or four months old when I noticed you too loved music. The first time I became aware of this we were driving into town for an appointment. A song came on the radio and you began to mimic the notes and have your own little sing-a-long. It was such a delight to listen to. It is a daily occurrence in our household to listen to music on the iPod. You have your favourite songs which you repeatedly request until we turn them on. One of your favourites is “Chandelier” by Sia. You love getting up close to the speaker and pointing at it in excitement.
Music is such a beautiful way to experience your emotions and it can connect us so strongly to memories.
My earliest musical memory is sitting between my Father and Nana in her farm ute. I must have been about 4 years old. We had been on a trip into town and were returning to my Nana’s 100 acre property in rural NSW. It was nearing dusk and I could see the wide open farmland whizzing by and smell the freshness of the descending evening. A well-worn Neil Diamond cassette was playing softly. Suddenly we pulled onto the side of the road and there was an urgency in the conversation. My father instructed me to stay in the car as they both got out.
Up on my knees looking through the back window, I watched them make their way towards a fenced paddock. A flock of galahs were on the other side and all but one of them flew away. It was pacing back and forth frantically. That’s when I noticed a bird stuck in the barbed wire fence. My father and his mother sharing a pair of fencing gloves, slowly approached the trapped bird as its distressed mate watched on. Together they worked to untangle the bird’s wing.
As Sweet Caroline serenaded me, I saw the freed bird and its mate fly away to join the other Galahs in the trees. My Father and Nana watched on. It is such a beautiful memory. Years later I went with my Aunty to a Neil Diamond concert and the memory came flooding back. The colours of twilight outlining the birds as they flew away. The happiness and satisfaction on the faces of my Father and Grandmother as they climbed back into the car. My sense of childhood wonder and feelings of love and security as I sat nestled between them for the rest of the journey home.
Music has a way of marking poignant moments for us. It is also an incredible vehicle to allow us to express our emotions.
John Butler recently said in an interview; “Music for me is a kind of diary entry, it’s how I relate to the world; it’s how I express how I feel about the world and all the things that are going on inside me”
It is so many things. It is therapy. It is expression. It is a universal language.
Singer Billy Joel said; “I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music”
I always loved the idea of being able to sing. However just because I can’t doesn’t mean that I don’t! In one of my many incarnations I did a stint as a Karaoke hostess. I’m quite certain I made some ears bleed but my vocal inadequacies were a great way to get the party started. Someone would inevitably down a glass of Dutch courage and volunteer to pry the microphone from my sweaty grasp.
Whilst singing was not my forte, dancing most certainly was. As a child I adored the escapism of dancing. It was when I felt complete happiness and ultimate freedom. I found a whole new world idolising musicians. They became a great fascination to me. I yearned for a life of musical creativity.
I spent many years of my twenties in nightclubs. I loved everything about the experience. The darkness, the loud music, the anonymity, the freedom to dance, the liberation from self-consciousness and the connectedness with complete strangers. I would dance for hours and make my way home when the sun was coming up, my feet aching. I would feel a dread about returning to the ‘real world’ of which I felt I did not have a place.
Seamus, I would love you to learn a musical instrument. It can another way for you to express yourself. I gave you the Happy Party Band pack for your first birthday. I’m not quite sure what you are naturally drawn to yet. You have given the drum, maracas and xylophone equal attention. I usually end up with the recorder or the tambourine in our collaborations.
I believe that music gives us the same gifts as silence. Music provides an extra dimension and an expansiveness that can only be duplicated in stillness. Silence is an incredible conduit for the unspeakable language of the soul and music is its voice. Be fluent in it.
“Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything” – Plato