Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Music To My Ears

I don't know about you, but music is an essential part of my life.  I have gotten away from listening to the radio, because of the constant barrage of ads and babble, but when I am alone in the house I turn up the volume on my cds or mp3s and let my mind get lost in the sound as I go about my household tasks.  If Mac is home I will still listen, but with much lower volume as he can't stand it too loud.  When my son is home and awake or my daughter is around, I pull out the headphones and try not to sing along too much, because that drives them crazy.

 Mac likes pop music from the fifties, sixties and seventies, primarily and listens to it almost exclusively.   I like music from that period too, but my musical taste is much more expansive and eclectic.   I love everything from The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and Red Hot Chili Peppers, to Native American flute, Gospel, Gregorian Chant and Enya.  In fact, about the only types of music I really don't enjoy are gangsta rap, cacophonous jazz and country pop (I do like most hip-hop, a lot of different types of jazz, and I really like progressive and folky, country rock a whole lot). 

Mac enjoys the musical arrangement and the overall sound of a song and pays little attention to the lyrics.  For most everyone that's probably sometimes the case; who doesn't occasionally like to sing or dance around to a nonsensical tune?  But for me, the greatest pleasure to be had from music comes from listening to a song with a great sound, wonderful instrumentation and lyrics I can completely relate to.

 I was thinking the other day, about certain songs that always have a profound effect on me.  Some of these are: Fields Of Gold by Sting, I Fall To Pieces by Patsy Cline, Katie Melua's version of The Cure's Just Like Heaven, and Bob Dylan's Sara.

I've been a Dylan fan since I was a kid, and over the years of listening I've come to the realization that Bob writes songs based on dreams, stories, movies and his own life experiences.  I love listening to him spin out a tale in his craggy, slightly off-key voice and drape it in layers of guitar and harmonica.  He's penned some of my very favorite songs, but one of the most poignant and heartbreaking is Sara, written for his wife.  The wistful song recalls their life together, describing moments from their early days, and vacations and beach days with their small children in bygone years.  It's an ode to their love, and to his lovely wife, whom he places on a musical pedestal, extoling her faithfulness and virtue as well as her beauty, and the listener soon realizes that he is begging her not to leave him.  But alas, it was too little, too late.  The lilting notes of hope and whimsey at the beginning of the tune change to sounds of despair as the song finishes.  Their marriage ended in spite of his beautiful and haunting tribute. 

I prefer not to hear the song Sara when I am in the company of other people, because even though I have heard it hundreds of times, I simply cannot listen to it without my eyes welling up.