Monday, February 11, 2013

Crying to the Music

One of my Dad's favorite memories of me as a kid happens to also be one of my very first legitimate memories - it happened when I was 3 or 4 years old. Back in 1982, an awesome movie was released called "The Secret of Nimh." Practically as soon as they released it on VHS a copy found its way into my hands - and I watched it as often as my Mom would let me. One day as the movie was finishing and the credits began to roll my Dad walked into the living room and found me sitting there sobbing. Just gutted. You're probably thinking to yourself, "Wait a minute. That movie has a happy ending. Doesn't it?" You're right. It DOES end happily. The story had nothing to do with the reason I was crying. I was crying because of the music.

This is the song: Flying Dreams by Jerry Goldsmith and Paul Williams

I remember it, crying to the music because it made me feel like I had to. I was internalizing it, making it part of me and being moved to show it. It was really the first time I had ever showed that I was able to connect that way  - and since music has been one of the great loves of my life, I hold this moment near and dear to my heart.

Fast forward about 30 years (yikes) - my lovely little girl is playing nicely with our electric keyboard in the guest room while I put away some laundry in other parts of the upper level. She likes to play the demo song and press all the keys and buttons and kick her feet to the music - it's pretty cute. Anyway, on this particular day she managed to press the keys in just such a manner that the demo song switched to something new. (I'm not kidding you guys, I had NO CLUE that thing could even do that). Then she switched the song again - this time to a little harpsichord ditty. A fourth song popped up and then a fifth! Finally a big, soaring number (using the "strings" setting) that sounded like it could have been the theme for a Jane Austen film. This one made her stop. The strings kept flying, but I realized I wasn't hearing the usual cacophony of kicks and clicks that had accompanied the other demo songs. 

I was immediately suspicious - a kid that is quiet AND out of your sight is never a good thing. So, I dropped what I was doing and stepped into the hall where if I leaned a bit to the right I could just catch a glimpse of the piano bench. As she came into view I immediately noticed her shoulders - they were stooped just slightly. Her head was bent forward so a swath of blond hair covered her face. Her hands sat still in her lap. By all accounts, she appeared to be simply sitting quietly and listening. Very unlike her.

My fears for her safety now squashed by seeing her, I crept slowly closer to satisfy my growing curiosity instead. As I closed the distance between us my ears picked up some sniffling noises, and the truth came crashing in: she was crying to the music - just like me. Slow tears rolled heavy down her cheeks and fell with audible drips to the bench below. Her shoulders shook slightly as she pulled in catching breaths. I had to clutch my chest to ensure my heart wouldn't explode from loving her so much in that moment.

She noticed me finally, turning up her miserable little face - and that's when she really lost it. She sobbed for several minutes and clung to me and kept repeating the word "SAD." It was a strange mix of sympathy, wonder and pride that filled up my chest as I consoled her. I knew just how she felt - I knew just how the music had made her feel. I mean, "Flying Dreams" is by no means the only song to ever knock me off my feet emotionally - I have cried to countless tunes in my day so my understanding was palpable. I also felt an overarching sense of gratitude - I won't beat around the bush, the fact that my kid can emotionally connect to music already is a dream come true for me. I would love to nurture her love of music and to encourage her to explore it. So I felt jubilant, too - standing there holding my wretchedly sad daughter, sublimely happy. Grateful. 

I'll remember it forever - and I'll certainly bring it up when they interview me for Behind the Music someday.

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