#17 Music Sustains

We woke up with a song playing in our head…”Puff, The Magic Dragon,” by Peter, Paul, and Mary. We know all the words, so it just kept playing over and over in our head. Poignant. Bittersweet. The happiness and magic of childhood. We dozed. Contented.

So later, we woke up completely, and we went to YouTube to play those songs and the music we had saved. We have quite a variety–from Celtic folk to Native American, rock, classical. We didn’t even realize we were still in our night clothes as the morning passed. We did go to take a shower, and the songs, the music, kept playing in our head. And we realized, that even though we had always been music lovers, ardent music lovers, never had we so appreciated it like we did now.

From the earliest of humankind, we have made music to express ourselves, calm ourselves, get ourselves ready to act–we have always been people who seek out music and/or make it. Early people used drums, sticks, whatever was available to beat out a rhythm, added words or not, danced and chanted. Historically, people appreciate music. In the not so recent past, a few centuries ago, musicians and composers won favor from royalty by producing operas, musical compositions and thus earned their “keep” and some flourished that we still appreciate today. Bach, Liszt, Beethoven, Mozart, and on and on. Today, we thoroughly enjoy John Williams and all that is needed is a few bars of his music played and many can hum along or recognize the movie he composed music for. Elton John is another giant, as are the Beatles, and so very many others. Pink, and Lady GaGa, Madonna, and then Leonard Cohen. We know them all. Our favorites are from many different genres and be they country, folk, classical, whatever–they make us happy, make us think, allow us to wallow in beautiful and varied sounds and tones and chords. Yes, Music Sustains us. And then we literally laugh until our side aches from listening to Randy Rainbow, as we did with Tom Lehrer years ago. Their humor, their music, is sharp, hilarious and true. If it hadn’t been for Tom Lehrer writing the song we could sing to remember the periodic table, we never would have passed chemistry! 🙂 We owe him!~

Children love music. They learn through music. We teach them the alphabet by singing the ABC song to them, children’s songs from long ago that stay today. With our kids, we were thrilled when their teachers would teach them songs to aid in their learning. And we scrimped and saved to afford renting musical instruments for them to learn to play. “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” can sound beautiful as your child beams over squeaking it out on a battered violin. “Chopsticks” is a moment for celebration on the piano! They learned to appreciate the work, the hours, accomplished musicians put in, but more–they loved listening to music!

The worst among us appreciate music also. We watched a movie a while back where women held captive in a Japanese stockade were able to survive because they could sing the notes to classical compositions, thereby endearing themselves to their captors. During the holocaust, those who could sing, play an instrument, could stave off being murdered by entertaining the commandants at the concentration camps with their music. Yes, some were still executed, but many survived thanks to music. We have to wonder if these hard and cold criminals could appreciate music so much, why couldn’t they value the human lives that surrounded them? In that way, MUSIC SUSTAINS!

During Vietnam, our era of revolt back in the 60s and 70s, music was key to keeping people protesting and urging the end of war. Music has led to revolution, to protest, to giving the “common person” a voice, the beauty of expressing their values, feelings, their selves! And now, we search for those that write music, that sing the protest songs, the songs of unity, the songs of mankind uniting. We listen through tears as the people in Italy sing from balconies to each other, united in love–with music. We thrill at flash mobs online–online–playing “Ode to Joy!” Yes! Music speaks to us! Moves us! Unites us! Inspires us! Isolation doesn’t stop music, sharing music, writing music. It is our gift to ourselves and each other as we sing across yards, apartment walls–uniting our voices and our hope.

We write and we recognize the power of words–the written words. We are proud we can write, express ourselves and maybe encourage or help someone else through writing. But a three year old who cannot read yet, the older person whose eyesight prevents them from reading, the one too ill to see clearly–they can sing, hum, be blessed and SUSTAINED with music. Little birds were given the gift of song, a wolf can bay and make its own music. And we can lift our voices, in private or with others, and raise ourselves and others with hope and unity.

Listen to music today, hum or sing a song today, and realize–MUSIC SUSTAINS. As John Lennon sang, “Imagine…” PEACE to you all.

4 thoughts on “#17 Music Sustains

  1. Amazing. I just listened to a piece of music probably a dozen times, again and again. Your post makes me feel much less selfconscious about that.

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  2. I love this post, Judy! You reminded me not only of music’s power to sustain, but also to heal. When going through a particularly difficult time in my life, I made myself a “buck-up” playlist. I played that tape thousands of miles while riding my motorcycle. Between the riding and the songs, I was put back together. Hugs and thanks, xoA

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