Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Play a song: The power of music

Girls at the Piano, by Renoir.

I’ve written about books and cats and mandalas and other things I love, but I haven’t written much about music, other than my post earlier this week about my first piano recital.
Music can be one of my most effective anxiety busters. It has the power to change my perspective.
I listen to music for different reasons: to relax, for pure enjoyment, to feel more energetic, to think, to not think, while reminiscing, to inspire myself.
Some nights, I play music to help me fall asleep. These two CDs usually put me out—I usually wake up later and realize I never heard the end of the CD—Yoga Journal “Pure Relaxation” and Lifescapes “Meditations: Native American Flute.”
Monday night, Larry and I listened to some music by the Bee Gees in remembrance of Robin Gibb and the loss of the musical group. We sang along and in a real way rejoiced in the music, even though we felt sad.
I have sung, played music on the piano and organ, and listened to music most of my life. Some of my earliest memories involve music.
When I was perhaps 6 or 7 years old, my mother got a boxer puppy, Boots. While he was a puppy, she kept him on the enclosed back porch, with the fireplace guard around him to keep him from wandering.
Boots didn’t like to be alone. When he was, he would cry.
I couldn’t stand to hear him cry. He sounded so sad and lonely. So I would sit on the floor beside him and talk to him. I also sang to him from the Methodist hymnbook. One of my favorite hymns was “Standing on the Promises,” and Boots heard that one a lot.
My taste in music grew as I grew older. I spent my teen years listening to a lot of John Denver. I still like listening to his music.
College widened my musical world as I listened to roommates’ favorites that became my favorites. My dorm was full of a wide variety of music: James Taylor; Linda Ronstadt; Carly Simon; the Commodores; the Beatles; Peter, Paul and Mary; the Rolling Stones, the Go-Go’s. Have you ever heard of such a combination of music?
As I grew older, I became more interested in folk and bluesy music. I discovered Van Morrison and Nanci Griffith.
I can’t pin down my favorite type of music or even my favorite artist, though I suppose if I had to choose a favorite singer, it would be Alison Krauss. She has the voice of an angel and can harmonize beautifully with anyone.
I took a look at my playlist in my iPod and found evidence of my inability to focus on one type of music. Here are some of the artists:

Alison Krauss
Alan Jackson
Amanda Marshall
Bon Jovi
Bruce Springsteen
CeCe Winans
Celine Dion
David Cook
Dixie Chicks
The Eagles
Elton John
Gordon Lighfoot
Hootie and the Blowfish
James Taylor
John Denver
Josh Groban
Judy Collins
Kate Rusby
Luther Vandross
Martina McBride
Mary Chapin Carpenter
Miriam Makeba
Roberta Flack
Sarah McLachlan
Sheryl Crow

On Monday, I listened to Amanda Marshall’s “Believe in You” while I was walking. I thought about how the message of the song means so much to me. I feel like it’s a message that I want to give to others.
So I leave you with her song. And yes, dear readers, I believe in you.

What does music mean to you? What role does it play in your life? What are your favorites?


  1. I love the Bee Gee's music, wonderful to sing along too..kinda like the Beach Boys for me, I can hardly not sing when I hear them. My iPod has such a wide variety; from Louis Armstrong & Beethoven to Lady Gaga, Elvis, Mark Anthony among a few and I just love running to Pit Bull - my kids think that is hilarious.
    One of my friends was a neighbor to John Denver when he was in high school, she said he would come over to her house because he was a friend of her brother but he would never play basketball or baseball because he was afraid to hurt his fingers/hands because he loved playing the guitar so much. He wasn't famous yet, but she said he was always confident that that's how he would spend his life..making music.

    1. Krystal, What an interesting John Denver story! I loved his music, and I still feel sad sometimes when I listen to certain songs and remember that he's gone. Thank you for sharing!

  2. I love listening to a random mix of songs from my iPhone as I walk in the city. I too love folk, bluegrass, "soft rock" from the 60's onward. I also have a lot of acapella Mennonite hymn music, classical music of all kinds, and some children's music. I now associate certain songs with certain places on my walk I stood as I heard a phrase.

    The story about how David soothed King Saul's depression through playing the harp and singing has always touched me. Do you know Leonard Cohen's "Allelujah"?

    1. Shirley, I love Cohen's song--it has such a haunting but beautiful melody.

      My mother loved the music of an acapella Mennonite choir in our area, and we asked them to sing at my father's funeral. They sang "Rock of Ages" and "Amazing Grace." It was very comforting.

      Now I need to go back and read the story about David's playing for King Saul. Thanks for the reminder!

  3. Music is very important to me and always has been. Like you, I love a lot of different kinds of music. In fact, you and I have a lot of the same tastes.

    Lately, I have been listening to the Celtic Women because they are soothing and uplifting and sing old traditional Irish songs as well as other popular songs.

    Music has always been incredibly important to me.

    1. Elizabeth, I love the Celtic Women, and Celtic and Irish music in general. Have you listened to Kate Rusby? I think you'd like her.

  4. You may have guessed from my Friday Happiness posts that I love music. It can bring me up or down. It calmed my mother down when she was panicking. It is awesome.

    The Allelujah song is one of my favorites. I really like 2 versions - Rufus Wainright and Jeff Buckley.

    And about focusing on one type of music, there is so much good music, like books, it is impossible to focus on one type. You'd be missing out on a lot.

    1. Jen, Yes, I guessed that music was important to you! :-) I agree with you--our musical lives are made richer by exploring different kinds.

  5. I play music all the time, in fact, a lot of times, I totally get lost in it and lose track of time. It's always been an outlet for me. I prefer playing music, than listening to it. But, I am a rare breed, and really enjoy Celtic Music. But, I also enjoy Mumford & Sons, Jack Johnson, Ben Folds, ect. It's amazing how it lets our minds escape. One of my acquaintances described it as a state of "Flow" - "is the mental state of operation in which a person in an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity."

    1. You've given me some new artists to explore--thank you! I know that feeling of Flow--I love getting into that state when I'm writing or, as you say, listening to/making music.

  6. I listen to anything and everything. I grew up listening to much of the same artists that you did, and I smiled at all the familiar names! We also watched a Bee Gees documentary on Netflix when we learned of Robin's death. I was a big fan of pre-Saturday Night Fever Bee Gees music, and their rich harmonies brought me to tears all over again.

    My father loved country music, so we grew up hearing a lot of that around the house, too. It annoyed me at the time, but now that I'm older, I appreciate knowing the music of great country artists.

    Now that I have a sewing room, I enjoy sitting in there and working while playing music on Pandora and singing. It brings me great joy!

    1. Nadine, That sounds wonderful, sewing and listening to music.

      I loved the Bee Gee's harmonies too. Beautiful harmonies can easily bring me to tears--I think they just reach deep inside of me.

  7. What a lovely song - I'd not heard it before. I love, love, love music. It is the best way I know how to communicate with God. I also feel it's how He talks to me, and comforts me and reminds me I'm not alone. Just the other day I had an anxiety attack and I went and sat in my car and listened to some music. Thanks for sharing. I believe in you too.

    1. Thank you, Sunny! I am glad the music in the car comforted you. It's amazing, isn't it? Listening to music and singing are spiritual expressions for me, too. I don't sing well enough for solos or anything like that. I just enjoy it.

  8. Thanks so much for your comment! I have been following your blog "in secret" for a few months now, and I so appreciate your thoughtful posts.
    I love Alison Krauss as well! Especially her duet with Robert Plant of "Your Long Journey." Have you listened to Gillian Welch or the Civil Wars? If you enjoy Alison, you'd probably like them as well. :)

  9. Thanks for reading and commenting! I have heard Gillian Welch. I think she was on the "O Brother, Where Art Thou" soundtrack, along with Alison. I've never heard of the Civil Wars. Will have to check them out. Thanks!

  10. I have an ecclectic mix of music on my ipod too. That's what makes them so great!

    1. Lisa, That is a good thing about the iPod--you can take all your music with you. That's what I like about my Nook, too--I can take different books one one container. :-)

  11. I love your list! I think I'll have to try the ones I'm not familiar with since I like so many on there already. :-)

    1. Jean, Great! I hope you find more that you like. I love finding new singers and musicians.


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