These days I can go days without listening to the radio. I think I listened to music the other night on my way home from Liz’s, but only because she had turned the radio on when she took my car to get milk, but I haven’t since. I love music of different genres, as evidenced by CD collection and my MP3 selection, and I lost count years ago of the concerts to which I have been (which is quite different from not remembering all of the details of concerts I have attended). I don’t dislike music at all. I just don’t need it the way I used to.
There was a time that songs were more than music, and music was my call to rebellion--and maybe an excuse to swear. Oh, the 70s! “Whooo are you? Who, who, who, who? […] Oh, who the f*ck are you?!” “Teenage Wasteland, oh yeah, it’s only teenage wasteland.” Songs were the sound track of coming of age and knowing more than our parents (so we thought); Mama had a squeeze box, and Steve Tyler had a big ten inch…record. “That Smell” by Lynyrd Skynyrd (“you fool, you!”) still brings out my inner burnout and definitely requires a volume crank. And Led Zeppelin? Well, let’s just say that there are a few people in my life who love to say, at least once in the ninth month of the year, Happy Zep-tember. But my favorite was always Peter Frampton, whose double live album was my favorite gift in sixth grade and whom I finally met—yes, met—in the early 90s when I was just about 25. Decades later I am still not embarrassed to love a song whose lyrics included "I don't CARE if they cut my HAIR." Rock. On. It’s always Rock-tober.
My road to feminism was paved with songs by Aretha Franklin—“Respect” and “Natural Woman”. And Helen Reddy gets a shout out, too. I think I can probably still sing every word of "I am Woman Hear me Roar." There were the songs that moved me, some I became aware of only as I became socially conscious and…well…liberal. If my life were a movie the soundtrack would have played What's Going On by Marvin Gaye, or Wake Up Everybody by Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes in the background as I took the T to Dorchester to the adolescent clinic at which I worked.
Lest you think I remain permanently ensconced in the 70s, I love to dance to Modern English, “Melt withYou”. When I want to hear passion and emotion in a voice who better to listen to than Eddy Vedder? Even with short hair. Pearl Jam makes me feel. Period. U2 does too. And Live. And others. From decades other than the 70s.
In all the places in between, in all the mixed tapes I made and shared or was given by friends, the songs I sang aloud made me feel like I had a good voice. I hung on to every word to tell me that I’d be okay, that my life would turn out okay. I would find love and be fine, and someday someone would sing a heartfelt song to me, soppy and sappy. Maybe [I] would bring [him] up or he would hold a boom box over his head to let me know how much he loved me. I could even break a heart if so inclined.
I did turn out okay; things are fine with me. I have found love. I’ve even been sung to in my life. And while music still moves me, transports me to times past and places I’ve been, I am okay with silence. I can sit in the moment, with my own thoughts and words in my head, writing my own song. But I still can't settle on the ten albums (well, CDs) I'd take to that deserted island, or download on my MP3 palyer, so I Gotta Feeling music will always be a part of my life.