Monday, September 24, 2012

We Have Heaven

I don't know if it's family tradition or something elemental that runs in our genes, but my two brothers and I communicate via email often entirely through the lyrics of songs. Music is simply in our heads, day and night. Instead of the typical greeting: "what's going on? how's the family?" I will get a one-liner like this:

son #2
"I will now proceed to entangle the entire area"...what song is this from?

Oh, that's easy, I answer. Almost Cut My Hair, by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, from the Deja Vu album. And then I'll crank one back to them...

"When you see something that looks like a star, and it's shooting up out of the ground.."

Yep. You're right if you guessed The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys by Traffic.

It's a game we play, with lines of songs that go back 40+ years. I love connecting with my brothers in this way. It's our playful common denominator, a shared entertainment. And it brings back powerful memories, as music often does, by winging you back to a time and place in your past, and instantaneously uplifting your mood.

All three of us routinely wake up to songs in our heads. We are amateur guitar/harp/keyboard players, and go about our days working at our jobs, raising our kids, and a million other mundane activities...but always, there is music in the foreground...and in the background of our daily lives. We sing in the shower or in the car with the windows rolled up. We sing along with our favorite bands, and can't get lyrics out of our heads once the songs spring from our lips.

My brother once said if he were forced to choose one...to be deaf or blind, perhaps he would choose blindness.

Because he just couldn't imagine a world without music.

Here's your brain on music: Listen to inspirational music and calm your thinking mind. Listen to classical music and improve your concentration. Jazz uplifts and inspires, and releases deep joy. Rock music is a reliable motivator and invites me to vacate the computer to get up and dance.

Overall, music makes us feel good (our brains release serotonin, the happiness hormone); it energizes us, and can even create a flow state of mind.

When I'm working on art projects, I often listen to podcasts (On Being, Ted Talks and others); it's stimulating to learn new things and to think about books and poetry and technology, but switch over to music and, voila...my mood changes instantly; I feel lighter, my productivity shoots skyward, and I'm happily dancing around the room and belting out tunes as if no one is watching.

If we have music, We Have Heaven.   We Have Heaven, by Yes is a short song, almost a chant.

It can, and does engender many different interpretations in various listeners, like so many of Yes songs do. I listened to them in the 70's and enjoyed their musical mastery, but it is only recently that I paid any attention to the words and realized the ethereal themes that dominate their lyrics.

Sometimes you don't appreciate things when they're right there under your nose.

Sometimes you don't understand things fully until a gazillion years later.

Now I see the richness and brilliance of their lyrics (listen to And You and I) and am spellbound and captivated...once again.

Spiritual seekers often advise us to stay in the present moment; to let go of past and future thoughts. But sometimes memories are uplifting, if you choose the good ones. Music brings back memories, visceral memories deeply embedded in our physical bodies.

So I hum Brown Eyed Girl while cleaning the house, or sing Jesus, Take the Wheel in the shower when I want to enjoy a robust flood of contentment.

And I've been known to play air guitar with brooms to lighten my cleaning-mode mood.

sweeping the deck

We Have Heaven.

Through dance, and through art, and through nature.

We Have Heaven, here on earth, right now

through music.

8 comments:

  1. a wonderful post. a lovely way to communicate...yes, we have heaven!

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  2. thank you Dawn...see you in November!

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  3. I learned of Queen late in life... can stimulate me with all of Freddie's songs, and the guitar work blows my mind.. ah. favorite: Hungarian Rhapsody... I see a little figure of a man, Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you do the fantango... ha. My biggest failure as a musician, can't remember titles or authors to save my life... lyrics are a poor 1st place, ugh. I sing alternate lyrics just because.. ha.
    Keep your brother's guessing... early Cat Stevens, "I love my dog as much as I love you! Our love may fade, my dog will always come through... " ha. mike

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  4. That's a new one for me; i've never heard Stevens's dog song. Probably because I listened to him a little later...Tea for the Tillerman album in 1970: "Where Do the Children Play?" and "Wild World" come to mind. Both beautiful songs, and he has such a mellow voice. My kids heard this album probably a trillion times when they were little.

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  5. Kris Sundstrand DanielsSeptember 25, 2012 at 6:46 AM

    I enjoy your blogs Monica and I could truly relate to this one since all of the music you mentioned comes from "our" era and we still listen to it all the time as well. Plus I enjoy a lot of new music, too, and we are also huge Blues fans. We put our headphones on and go for a walk or float on our boat or cook or clean the house...... Music makes every day better and our daughter once said the same thing as your brother (was that Mark?) that, if she had to choose between being blind or deaf, she could never choose deafness and not hear music again. I guess that comes from growing up in our musical house. :-)

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  6. Yes, it surely does make every day better. I get music recommendations from my kids, yet it's interesting how much they listen to the old tunes too. One fall I was in Boulder, CO and walking down the street near the university. Music was blaring from a couple houses (sound familiar?) and it was Moody Blues and Led Zeppelin & I thought, this is unprecedented, the younger generation listening to their parent's music at university. I'm sure that's due to the internet, and maybe hearing lots of music when they were kids at home. Music can bridge the generation gap!

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  7. i love you playing air guitar, monica. that's great.

    by the way, is son # 2 married? he's gorgeous. if not, i have a lovely daughter #2—how about an arranged marriage? (haha)

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    1. Hahaha! Nope. He's 28 and unattached....maybe he'll meet someone online like I met you, mignon!

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