This is a revisit of a post that I did a few years ago. As I sat down to write, I realized that I may have said some of what I was thinking before. Instead of reinventing the wheel, I figured that I would just edit what had already been said by me.
Music has always been such a powerful part of my life. Through all of life’s important events, music has accompanied me. Through weddings, through funerals, through college, through break-ups, and on and on the list goes. It ends up being the soundtrack in front of which I live my life. Thus the title.
I have a pretty vast music collection. There’s not that much that I don’t listen to. I guess as I get older, I’m showing some of my preferences. I’ve been a big Dylan fan for a while, enough to have one of his songs sung at my wedding and to name my firstborn after him. Also been a fan of Miles Davis, though I am not impressed with his misogynistic ways, he played a mean trumpet and could always do a lot with just a few notes.
One of the sections of my music collection that is always growing is movie soundtracks. I would have to say that my two favorite soundtrack composers are John Williams and Danny Elfman. Both are unique in their styles and are probably fairly opposite of one another. John Williams writes sweeping orchestral scores while Danny Elfman is a former progressive 80’s rock band frontman (he used to sing lead vocals for Oingo Boingo, you know, “It’s a dead man’s party….”).
The thing about movie soundtracks is that, for anyone who pays attention, the good ones can take you right back to that movie. Who hasn’t looked for a whip and a fedora after hearing the Raiders March from Raiders of the Lost Ark? Who doesn’t start doing their best Darth Vader impression when they heard the Imperial March from Star Wars? Who doesn’t say, “E.T. phone home” after hearing that movie’s theme song? Who doesn’t get pumped for the underdog to win when you hear the theme song from “Rocky” or somehow decide that you want to pound on a big, blonde-haired Russian named Drago after hearing “Eye of the Tiger”? Maybe I’m the weird one, but I do it all the time.
Dick Clark said, “Music is the soundtrack of your life.” I would have to agree. I legitimately think that it’s possible to choose the wrong song for a moment. As a melancholic, one who is easily drawn into the emotion of the moment, I have to be pretty careful about what I listen to and when. Once upon a time, as a young and naive kid, I believed that the kind of music I listened to was inconsequential and that it didn’t impact my mood or how I lived my life. I have lived too much of life and experienced more of the contrary to still believe that to be true. While I won’t go blaming music for my behavior, I do know that it can be a very powerful influence in my attitude and demeanor. I need to be careful what I listen to because music has the potential of pushing me deeper into a mood that I am in or helping to pull me out of that same funk.
When I was making regular trips to northern Virginia for school, I would strategically load my car CD player so as to have all of the rockin’ fast music come while I was on my way home at 10PM at night. There was less of a chance of me falling asleep. Also, when driving to church on Sunday mornings, preparing to lead people in worship, Ozzy Osbourne doesn’t seem like the most strategic choice to me. To be honest, silence works well during those moments.
But I echo Dick Clark’s statement because I have seen how true it is in my life. I can remember the song that my wife and I danced to for our first dance at our wedding. I can remember the songs that we had sung at our wedding. I can remember songs that were meaningful when I was in high school, ones that were “my song” with girls that I dated back then. I can remember songs that have been sung at funerals or other occasions that have stirred my heart. Music has the ability to sweep me away from the moment that I am in to a moment that I experienced once upon a time.
To be honest, I have to be careful too, with my tendency to be driven into a state of melancholy, that I don’t listen to certain music during certain periods of my life. It’s just not a good idea. It’s sort of like those two guys in City Slickers who make ice cream (a play on Ben and Jerry). The one can pick the perfect flavor for whatever kind of food someone might suggest. They test him on it and he proves himself with flying colors. Now, I’m not saying that I can pick the perfect song for any occasion, but I definitely know when songs fit and when they don’t. In some ways, I’m constructing the soundtrack of my life.
To some people, music is background noise. Others need complete silence to hear every note in order that they don’t miss something. Regardless of how you listen to music, it probably has a greater impact on you than you really knew. Not all music is good to listen to all the time.
As you walk through life, making memories, take note of the kind of music that you hear. Is it happy? Is it sad? Is it majestic and sweeping? Does it make you want to dance? If not, what can you do to change the soundtrack? What can you do to make sure that the music matches the moment as completely as possible? What kind of music are you making with your life?