I’ve always loved music. I don’t sing it, write it, or play it; I just love it. From the time I was a little girl, one of my most beloved things in life has been hearing an amazing song for the very first time. It incites feelings of newness and nostalgia all at once. Sometimes a revelation follows, or maybe just a chuckle at the “once upon a time” it reminds me of.
Songs are so, so powerful…they are pieces of poetry, but with tangible rhythms. Our bodies can actually move to the words coming out. Langston Hughes once said, “Poetry is the human soul, entire, squeezed drop by drop like a lemon or lime into atomic words.” Now drop a beat behind it…it’s actually a phenomenon the music makes with us. Sometimes the song is so good it hurts…maybe it sparks feelings of love or longing, or maybe it’s something else. Sometimes the song is good because of the circumstance, and sometimes it’s good because the rhythm conveys something that leaves us writers a loss for words…the things that are only felt. Songs are the things that happen when poetry and sound make love.
Most of my favorite songs have a sense of fleeting moments, or “carpe diem” themes about them (listen to about any Bob Seger song for an example). I think this is because that’s the way I like it; the way I handle my life. Everyone takes their coffee a little differently…different amounts of cream or sugar or what not. Life is the same way. I don’t take it black. Though I like to see and analyze everything in the raw, I sugar it up with big dreams and the idea that I can only catch them if all the planets line up. I want my dreams to be like drifters wandering into town. I want them to be hard to catch, so that not everyone can have them. I want them to be hard to keep so I stay on my toes. Most of all, I want a whirlwind love affair with them before they choose to float out of my reach, and mosey on out-of-town again.
That’s just how life is. Not only my dreams, but my best memories are of fleeting moments. It is because they are rare, and if we were exposed to the emotion they bring all the time we would crash from some sort of euphoric overload. The greatest moments have to be fleeting. I’ve heard songs that have time-warped me to instances like watching a sunset in Italy at 17 years old, riding in my first car with my girlfriends, or flirting with a boy on a sticky summer night behind the Chick Fila I worked at as a teenager. Somewhere in those small moments I found the adult I would become…dreams were born. The songs remember better than I do.
Maybe that’s why the really great music captures my dreams so well, and stirs up old memories so clearly. The songs themselves are so quick to pass, but are just like the things they tell the stories of. They are these small vessels of dynamite. They happen fast, and render an espresso shot straight to the meat of us…no passing go nor collecting 200 dollars. They shoot hard and fast, and I’m a sucker for the jolt. Those little bursts of energy are the fleeting rhythms of life. It’s the very design of life…grabbing at all the pretty things that swarm around us while we can. Every moment leaves as quickly as it arrives, and the music knows it.