For me, music is oxygen. I can't remember a time when I didn't have music playing in the background, or running through my head.
Some of my earliest memories are of music. I remember being 2 or 3 years old, baking Christmas cookies with my family and hearing "Cherish" by the Association. It sounded so similar to the carols on the radio I just assumed it was a Christmas song!
Some of the songs I loved for their sounds and their textures. My lifelong love of Joni Mitchell started when I was 5 or 6 and heard the changing chords of "Help Me" on the radio. I remember believing for a long time that Joni also sang "Jackie Blue," an Ozark Mountain Daredevils song that's sung by a male vocalist. It was all painting with words and music even at a young age.
Music inspired me, gave me energy and made me happy. But this post is about the first time that music really affected me and made me feel. And it's about a song by an artist who makes the hipster in me blush in shame: Barry Manilow.
I can't say that I'm a "Fanilow" or even listen to his music much now, but back in the late 70s you couldn't turn on a radio without hearing a Barry Manilow song. Some of his songs are still fun to listen to (especially "Daybreak").
But one of his songs really affected me one day when I was getting dressed to go to school. It was "Could This Be Magic."
The song's different from most of Barry's other songs - it has snippets of Chopin in it, for one - and much of the song is played in haunting minor keys.
I remember hearing those notes and just bawling. My poor confused mother thought I was sick and decided to keep me home from school. I kept telling her "I'm okay - I'm just sad!"
It was the first time music ever moved me. I learned that music could move me and that music could affect my spirit and my mood. It was wild and messy and emotional and exhilarating to learn that music had that power.
I may have all of my songs on iTunes these days instead of dusty old albums and 45's, but I still love listening to a song, old or new. And I still marvel that music can have an effect on me: sending shivers up my spine, making me smile or bringing a tear to my eye - often all in the same three and a half minutes.