I don’t know what it is about music that is so transcendent, but nothing is better at drawing me out of my own head than words set to song.
When I’m crazy, on-the-verge-of-losing-it, I like to drive in the car with the audio at full blast. Somehow when the music is obnoxiously, almost painfully loud, it helps soothe me. (It’s less soothing when I have passengers with me, but thankfully, that’s been rare.)
I think the music makes me feel smaller, in a good way. The way I feel when I’m watching waves crash onto the shore, or stars alone lighting an otherwise black sky.
When I remember I’m a small part in a very grand universe, it becomes a lot easier to let go of the weight of the world. And I’m thankful for that.
Last week was hard, in a lot of different ways, like turn the volume all the way up and yell at the radio, instead of singing along, hard.
I felt isolated with my worries, and powerless to change anything, much less fix anything.
But it was punctuated by something really amazing, something I needed much more than I realized as we loaded up the car.
My sister and I drove (she drove, graciously!) 4 hours last weekend to see a music festival in the tiny town of Guthrie, Oklahoma.
There were tons of bands there, only a handful of which we actually got to see, after parking nightmares and eating our weight in barbecue.
But even as a backdrop on our weekend, listening to Pandora in the car, and to local bands perform as we explored antique stores downtown, I was reminded how much a part of my life music is.
More importantly, I was made aware how much of a bigger part I wished it played.
How much I need it, to awake my soul.
Day to day it’s much easier to listen to other noises instead. The kind that come along, uninvited. The dishwasher running, and cars honking… my work phone ringing, or me hearing its phantom ring taunt me in a moment of silence.
It’s all NOISE.
And it’s all I hear most days.
But sometimes, when I remember to withdraw for a moment of quiet, of solitude, I hear the music creating a subtle soundtrack to my life.
The conversation hits a lull, and I notice a song playing in the restaurant. I’ve never heard it before, and may never hear it again, but it seems familiar somehow. It makes me feel at home.
It invites me up into the bigger story that’s happening, the one beyond hasty dollar store runs and hospital visits.
Yes. Letting the music bathe over me reminds me that so much of the bigger picture I can’t always see is beautiful. And what a shame it would be to let the tough or dark points overshadow all that good.
Did I mention that concert we drove to was Mumford and Sons?
Most people love or hate them, it seems. I don’t know many bands so polarizing. And I get that not everyone is into alt-folk music; it’s not everyone’s cup of organic tea so to speak.
But man are they good musicians, like world-class, incredibly talented musicians.
That’s not what drew me to drive (ride) four hours to see them though. It might have gotten me to buy their CD, but it wasn’t reason enough to stand in a crowded field on a humid Saturday night, covered in red dirt and sweat.
What drew me to see them was this.
Seeing moms and their teenage sons both delighting in a
single song …
witnessing bonafide hippies and hipsters, all sitting on blankets in the middle of a field… watching people raise their hands, and clap along, and laugh, and cheer, and I’m sure cry…
that is why I wanted to be there.
That is why I needed to be there.
I needed to be surrounded by people that had driven in from all different states, each leaving behind troubles of their own, that wanted to escape from the noisy world for a while.
People longing to be ushered into something beautiful. Something bigger than car maintenance, and time cards, and Intensive Care.
For an hour or so we got to be part of a unified community.
We got to close our eyes, and be swept up into a bigger story, one musicians tell us about with words and melodies.
It's the kind of story artists paint about. And novelists write about.
And occasionally, good preachers preach about.
And the weary, worn-out dream about.
No one musician, or artist, holds the rights to it, because no one will ever fully describe it.
But all the good ones point to it.
And the really good ones invite us to be a part of it.
And I love them for that. I am sooo grateful for that.
'Cause I need it, so much more than I realize most days.
I need to be one, of thousands, lost in a moment.
Lost in a melody.
When I’m happy nothing’s better than humming a cheerful song all day.
And when I’m sad nothing helps like a songwriter totally commiserating, and articulating, my emotional experience.
Loud and upbeat, or soft and slow… music always makes me feel less alone.
And ultimately, I think that’s all any of us really wants.
To know that we’re not alone in this.
Please check out the music video links above, and if you love the music GO BUY IT.
I can't think of anything else I can purchase for $1.29 that brings so much joy.