Friday, November 20, 2009

Music to live by

My life definitely has a soundtrack. I'm one of those people for whom almost every song has a memory and most of the people in my life have been assigned a song at one point or another. I imagine I inherited this gene because I remember very clearly setting out each summer for our rental home in Michigan to the sound of Willie Nelson's "On the Road Again" which my dad had popped into the tape deck of the car. I loved things like that. Later, after my brother died and one of his friends used a Pink Floyd phrase to memorialize him ("Shine on you crazy diamond") my dad would lay in the living room with that album playing mourning the loss of his son deeply. So, clearly, here is where I came from.

As a kid I used to compile 'depression tapes.' Oh yes, I called them depression tapes, growing up in a household with a mentally ill woman will give you a vocabulary of illness that others rarely use. I'd tape all the sad love songs I could find and then turn on the tape and get myself crying. I used to think of it as a sort of healthy therapy. I mean, nothing wrong with crying, right? And why not pick a specific convenient time to do so? I had a lot of sadness in my life, so I found plenty to cry about. That's sad in itself seeing as how I was 11, but whatever.

In high school, of course, every boy had a song. I religiously wrote down every song I slow danced to with my main crush, and any time any other boy asked me to dance I also wrote those down. At this point though, songs weren't really sticking as strongly as they did later. The transitory teenage mind I suppose. And the random choices of slow dance songs picked by high school djs also made it complicated because they just weren't right for the situation. But the 80s music as a whole can transport me right back there, Madonna's "Crazy for You" reminds me that I actually had the lyrics to that song taped up inside my locker door that year while I was pining away for that damned boy. Oh the hours I spent in angst over that silly boy who was just not interested in me. So much emotional energy!

When my brother died, the soundtrack that had defined him as an older brother would be my mourning tracks. Early on any of the music he used to listen to, which was a little more sophisticated than my taste since he was in college, would make me smile. Psychedelic Furs, Stray Cats, Adam Ant, and many others I'd seen him air guitaring to. Later, one in particular, "Melt With You" by Modern English, would show up in the oddest places right when I needed a little help, driving to have dinner with the parents or heading to the doctor with a scary lump in my breast. Seeing as how it's heyday had long past it became my song to know he was out there looking after me, because it was uncanny when it would come on the radio.

Nowadays the songs get less assigned but sometimes you're in a space in your life where you keep hearing a song and it just fits your feelings. For my mom, several years ago when I was struggling a little harder than average with relating to her, it was "Landslide" by Fleetwood Mac. It was hard to even understand why the lyrics made me tear up, but they did. So it will always be about her and me.

When I was pregnant with the triplets I found a song about three babies by Sinead O'Connor of all people that made me bawl like nuts even though I have no idea what she intended it to be about. Might be three dead babies for all she meant, but for me it was a great tune to anticipate my future triplets. I listened to that sucker all day every day for weeks.

What I need to find now is a song for my dad. The anniversary of his death is fast approaching and I realize I have no song. I have a great soundtrack of Merle Haggard, Anne Muray, Crystal Gale and so on, but no song has stuck for his passing. Our relationship was complex, filled with lots of fun and interesting conversations, but also stressed by handling our individual relationships with my mom. He was definitely not always great, I struggled plenty dealing with his way of parenting, but he was a good friend in the end. So it's odd I haven't picked a song. I don't get a lot of radio time, true, but it only takes one song. Perhaps this weekend while I'm away scrapbooking and listening to all of my music it will hit me. Perhaps it's just too raw still. I need more distance before I can pick some lyrics to just mourn a bit while driving down the road. Because it's definitely hard to just mourn a bit yet. Still feels like a ton of bricks.


  1. (((Mira))) I hope you do find that song for your dad and your emotions about him and your relationship with him, etc. I also hope you enjoy your scrapbooking time, sounds like fun

    the first year my mom died was the hardest; the year of "firsts". It does get easier.

    I'm sorry about your brother too. that must be hard to not have him around especially at this time of your life.

    hugs to you


  2. An amazing, moving and wonderfully written post, Mira. Thinking of you with your memories of your dad this weekend. {{{Hugs}}}