My most effective way of getting myself back on track (well, my own personal version of being on track) is to become absorbed – consumed, even – by my favourite songs; today I had a glorious sounds fest, which began with me adding some beloved but forgotten old tracks to my phone music, blasting them through my headphones as I walked with the dog around the woods and along the beach… and I just couldn’t resist singing along, (I did at least attempt to keep it more to a whisper than a shriek). This afternoon I really needed to do a food shop, as we were down to a few fish fingers and half a pack of bacon… so I plugged my headphones in, selected ‘faves’, turned up the volume, and grabbed a trolley. I was aware of other people bustling around, whilst at the same time feeling as if I was in a delicious musical cocoon… there in body, but not in spirit. I admit to ‘shuffling’ a little, in time with the various beats, and even nodding along… but you see, it is now perfectly okay for me to be a bit of a crazy old bat in other people’s eyes… and to be honest, I don’t really care anyway! The drive home was blissful, as I vocally murdered one gorgeous song after another, at the top of my voice – happily completely alone. Because you can only do this stuff when you are on your own, which is maybe at least a part of the attraction: no-one asking you to turn it down, or complaining about your choice of song, or getting in a huff because you aren’t talking to them. I don’t get to indulge in this every day, but when I do, I overdose, leading me to feel gloriously high. I suppose it is pure escapism…
For some reason, I have very recently revisited a love of ELO, and their tracks have rather nicely been scratching a few little itches. I am sharing, at the bottom of this blog, a link to a video of Jeff Lynne performing Evil Woman, live at Wembley… and I absolutely defy you not to feel great, as you expose yourself to the amazing energy of the music, and and to the joy of the mostly middle-aged audience, as they enthusiastically dance and sing along, smiling from ear to ear! You cannot possibly beat it, this amazing relationship that we human beings have with music… it is positively life affirming and healing.
Music is rather like a photo album of our life, bringing back memories, and book-marking certain times and events from our personal history. I listened to ‘Can You Feel The Force’ (the Real Thing), and ‘Play That Funky Music’ (Wild Cherry), and was immediately transported back to dancing until the early hours, in a 1970’s Manchester night club; I played the Jackson’s ‘The Love You Save’, and ‘Blame It On The Boogie’, and experienced a wave of sadness at the way in which Michael’s life ended… but decided instead to joyfully celebrate the beauty and creative energy of his existence, smiling at the memory of the enthusiastic video for Blame It On The Boogie. No medicine could be better. I floated through ‘Holding Back The Years’ (Simply Red), and the atmosphere of the 1980’s, a decade I loved, flooded my senses… where the hell has time gone?
I remember driving home late one evening, and Jimi Hendrix’s ‘All Along The Watchtower’ came on the radio… and I was suddenly at a motorbike rally, with the stars shining down over a field full of mostly middle-aged party animals, drinking and laughing until the sun comes up, to a soundtrack of rock music and generators, accompanied by the smell of oil, leather and hot metal… ah, nectar of the gods!
And of course, music shares the most important moments of our lives; we walk down the aisle to a song that is personally meaningful to us, and our coffin is often accompanied by a musical statement piece! I remember being very much in labour with my son, my first child, and the hospital radio was playing Burning Beds (very apt, as I was lying in a tangled mess of sheets, on a very hot ward!). I could go on and on, as I am sure you could too, if you set about the task of listing every piece of music that has been a meaningful part of your personal history. My children have developed eclectic musical tastes, I am so happy to say, and my daughters look fondly upon the Eagles, understanding that they helped me through some very tough times in my life; and of course, they have their own go-to artists/tracks, for times of tears and of comfort.
Like every generation, mine tends to believe that our music was better… but you know, it bloody well was! There was a rawness, an imperfection – an un-tweaked, honest sound. The skinny, long haired, uneven-toothed Paul Rodgers was a delicious sight to behold, and even more satisfying to listen to; nowadays, he continues to be an amazing artist, but he is more physically polished, having developed quite a few muscles! I still love to see those old videos, though, with Mr Snakehips doing his stuff (sigh).
Too many people are too caught up in everyday life, in the pursuit of security, to remember to seriously revisit their favourite tunes every now and then. It is even deemed to be immature to do so, something that is okay for the young, but not for grown ups who have more important things to attend to. Well, I am sorry, but if I ever become too old to lose myself in the colour and energy and emotion of the vibration that is music, dig a hole and push me into it. If I ever reach a point at which I no longer feel compelled to jiggle joyfully around the room, no matter how slowly I have to do it, I will have already died inside. Music has a life force all of its own, which drawers us in and heals us, tenderly reminding us that the life we have lived has been real and true… and kept alive by songs that will never be forgotten.
Anyway, I promised to share the Jeff Lynne/ELO – Evil Woman link, but I am also going to give you another treat! When I first heard Paul Carrack and Eric Clapton performing ‘How Long’, I fell in immediate love, especially with Eric’s second guitar solo… and the only way I can describe it is akin to having warm honey poured all over me! And even if they absolutely aren’t your thing (as much as I say I love music, I was never too keen on extreme punk, and I don’t enjoy screamo, so not every style is for us), they might remind you of some long forgotten tune you used to love, and would get a buzz from revisiting. Don’t allow ‘real’ life to keep you away from the magical, childlike world of your musical imagination, too often!