Music is so powerful. We have all experienced the power of song. A melody can take us right back to a memory, as if we’re living it again. There are times I swear a song can even muster up particular smells from a day gone by. Music has the ability to capture words, turning them into lyrics that can touch us and teach us in ways regular speech may not. Music opens our hearts and in doing so connects us.
That’s how I felt at Bemelmans Bar where Patrick and I went to see our friends perform last night. There were more than a few songs that moved me and made me ponder about their meaning. I heard lyrics to familiar songs in different ways last night. That’s another gift that music offers, it is ever-changing and grows with you as you change and grow from your life experience. Sometimes it can feel like you’re hearing a song for the first time simply because you pick up on something you hadn’t noticed before.
As Jim and Billy sang the tunes and expressed the lyrics, my heart and mind were rampant with empathetic ideals and insights. Music does that. It gives you insight. All art does. That’s why the arts are so important in education and for our culture. They are the cornerstone of every society. They reflect our lives. They “hold a mirror up to nature”. One of the songs last night was As Time Goes By.
Most people associate this song with CASABLANCA. I do too. But last night . . . now this may sound frivolous at first . . . I got to thinking about ABC’s The Bachelor/Bachelorette television series. Hey, don’t judge. LOL. Just give me a sec. I’ll explain . . .
Patrick does not understand why the participants in the series fall in love so fast, why they’re hoodwinked by the fancy dates and perfect atmosphere, why they believe any of it or any of their feelings are real or could be lasting. I try to impart that he doesn’t understand because he’s always been coupled, he’s always had a girlfriend, he hasn’t suffered the strain and struggle of being alone, of looking for love and coming up empty all too often. What he doesn’t get is how deeply these people want it to be true.
I think about these things during Valentine’s Day and over the winter holidays. I imagine those times are particularly difficult if having a partner is something you wish you had. Not all people want that. That’s cool. But if you do, it can be ostracizing to be an odd man out at parties or at restaurants. As Time Goes By is a song about how love will never go out of fashion. The world will always welcome lovers. But for the first time, I heard a different spin . . . Is there an implicit antithetical in the lyrics saying the world will not welcome you if you are not lovers? I mean, I was sittin’ in my booth at Bemelmans and it occurred to me that if a person was wishing for love, it wouldn’t take Valentine’s Day to point out to them that they were alone. I wondered if at that very moment there was an individual sitting at Bemelmans thinking exactly what I was thinking. Hearing in the lyrics that they are lesser than because they are not coupled. It made me cherish Patrick and feel sad for anyone who has to face the constant onslaught of seeing love everywhere for everyone else. It’s just something I thought. And the music allowed me to think it.
Then Jim and Billy performed What A Wonderful World. Ah, what a wonderful song! It’s actually Patrick’s favorite. It was the final song to close out our wedding reception. Listening to the song my thoughts drifted to the wedding we had just attended the night before. Our dear friends, Mike and Paul, after 17 years, finally tied the knot. In truth, they could not have tied the knot much sooner because the law wouldn’t allow it.
It got me thinking . . . How wonderful that we live in a place where this song can apply to my friends now. I’m so happy we could all celebrate their love the other night. “The colors of the rainbow, so pretty in the sky . . .” I mean, come on, the word rainbow is right there! Ha! Music allowed me to feel that and I hoped others in Bemelmans were hearing and feeling it too.
Music is our friend, our companion, our teacher, our vessel, and I suppose like a lover. I am so grateful to have art and artists ever-present in my life. It is because of those influences that I am more connected to my world and the people in it.
Here’s to music. Here’s to love. Cheers.