Sunday, September 26, 2010

Music To Grow By

I’m a musical person. Ok, I don’t play any instruments... but I sing. Ok, well I used to sing... anyway, it doesn’t matter. What I mean is, music is part of my soul. It affects me (and I’m sure I’m not the only one) in ways that nothing else on earth can. You know how some scents can trigger deep, subconscious memories? Flowers, baking, cologne, anything like that can suddenly bring back a rush of memories that have huddled in the back of your mind for years. That’s what music does for me. I can hear a song I haven’t heard in ages, and all of a sudden I’m transported to this place somewhere back in time. I can remember where I was, how I was feeling, who I was with, even what I was wearing.

Recently I’ve been mentally compiling a list of songs and music that have grown up with me. I wouldn’t say that these songs have really changed my life, but they’re songs that play around certain moments that stand out in my memory. Here are a few of them, in no particular order (and remember, I’m not asking for anyone’s opinion on my musical tastes- these are songs that have affected me. You can make your own list.) :

I Surrender by Darrell Evans: (I put this one first because I figured everyone would be expecting a Beatles song) When I was in youth group, we had a meeting in an old theater. I remember towards the end of the worship set the worship leader started playing this song. I was standing in the aisle, the lights were dim and tinted blue and purple, and there was a huge industrial fan circulating air in my direction. I cannot describe the feeling of absolute and utter peace that washed over me during that song. It was like I was in this completely safe, untouchable bubble, just me and God. I still can’t listen to that song without taking a deep, contented breath, trying to inhale that sweet, peaceful moment from when I was 14.

And I Love Her by The Beatles: Anyone who knows me knows I’m a few steps beyond a hardcore Beatles fan. If I had lived in the 60’s, I probably would have been throwing my underwear up on stage and then fainting. Embarrassing, but true. My dad is a Beatles fan, so I’ve grown up listening to them, but my first real memory of falling in love with one of their songs is this one. I was probably about 6 or 7, laying on a mattress on the floor in my brothers’ room (I can’t remember why). It was night time and the blinds were all the way up and the moon was full. This song came on the radio. I remember I was haunted by the minor keys, the mysterious lilt to the song, the Spanish guitar style solo... everything about this song started me down the path to Beatlemania.

Sweet Baby James by James Taylor: This song makes me think of my mama. She was always listening to James Taylor while I was growing up. To me, he is the musical equivalent of comfort food. When I’ve had a rough day, feeling melancholy, nostalgic, whatever, James Taylor is the first thing that gets played on my iPod.

Brand New Colony by The Postal Service (although I like the live acoustic version the best): This is one of my more recent song acquisitions, thanks to my wonderful brothers. I think Ben Gibbard is an amazing writer in general, but for some reason this song ministers to me. Every girl wants to be romanced, to be taken away from everyday drudgery, and know that someone actually loves her enough to do it. There is something so protective, loving, whimsical in the lyrics. There are many times I’ve been listening to them and without realizing it I have tears on my face. I feel like God has spoken to me through this song.

All I Ask of You by Andrew Lloyd Webber: I love musicals. Love, love, love them. I want to be in a musical, where it isn’t insane if you spontaneously burst into song. I want to wear a frilly dress and dance with a man in suspenders and spats whose shirt matches mine. That said, Phantom of the Opera isn’t exactly that type of musical (and it’s VERY loosely based on the book, but that’s a whole ‘nother blog...), but it is beautiful, haunting, and slightly creepy. All I Ask Of You is such an incredible song, and another one that God has spoken to me through. It’s a song about questions being answered, fears being set aside, and ultimate commitment. There’s a strain of protectiveness throughout that has opened my eyes all over again to the way God feels about me.

Hush by Waterdeep: This song was my life exactly. It spoke every thought I was thinking, every emotion I was feeling, and cried every tear I cried. If you have not listened to it, go. Listen. You’ll know what I mean.

Let’s Go Fly A Kite from Mary Poppins: This isn’t a deep, insightful song. It isn’t even one of the better ones in the movie in my opinion, but there’s a story behind it. The winter I was 18 was a terrible, horrendous, bleedingly painful one for me. My heart was broken in several ways by several people in a very short amount of time. I was beaten down, demoralized, apathetic, and very, very broken. There was a point where I hadn’t eaten in over a week, and it had been far longer since I had laughed or even smiled. I remember one night some of my brothers and my sister and I were all piled into Amber’s little blue Geo (named Smurf) for some reason (Christmas shopping?). All of a sudden, we started belting this song out. I can’t really remember why- just your average Rothwell craziness, probably. One minute I was staring out the window, crying, and the next minute I found myself singing, smiling, and laughing. It was the hysterical type of laughter that hurts your heart, but it was healing to me. I’m not sure if my family remembers that moment. Probably not. It was only significant to me. But even if you don’t remember, thanks, guys. You helped bring me out of a pit, just by singing a stupid song.

Peace Be Still by Day of Grace: I know this might seem like a shameless plug for my husband's band, but it's really not. Jeremy can, and will, tell you that I am his most severe critic. I have a hard time listening to his music objectively, because I hear it from inception to completion. I always liked this song, but it didn't really change me until the first time I heard him sing it after the death of his best friend. He started writing the song in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, as a sort of empathetic message to those who had lost so much. After Tommy died, it came home to him. The bewildering grief, the anger, the feeling of senseless loss, the questions, all became real to him. I watched him play it live with tears streaming down his face, telling himself, "Peace, be still." It touched me, and it changed me to see him so changed.

The entire album of The Places You Have Come To Fear The Most by Dashboard Confessional: I’m sure I’m not the only person in the world who totally emo’ed out over this album, locking themselves in their bedrooms with a pack of tissues and a picture of an ex. Oh wait... I am? Moving on....

I realize this blog is unmercifully long. Sorry to those of you who got inadvertently sucked in. There are so, so many more songs. Too many, so I’ll just list a few more without explanation. If you’re curious, check them out, and see if you can figure out why I like them ;) :

The Sound of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel
Positively 4th Street by Bob Dylan
Under Bridges by Brave St. Saturn
In My Life by The Beatles
North Country Blues by Bob Dylan
And by Waterdeep
I Want to Be More Like Jesus by Keith Green
Don’t Cry by Kirk Franklin
Rocketman by Elton John
The King Beetle on A Coconut Estate by mewithoutYou
Desolation Row by Bob Dylan
Dancing Queen by ABBA
Messes of Men by mewithoutYou
Tomorrow by Mat Kearney
All Apologies by Nirvana

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