Friday, February 12, 2016

Letters to Eila: Music


Music will change your life in a variety of wonderful ways. Early on, many of your toys will sing jingles. Your dad and I will sing to you. He will sing better than I will. We have a record player in your room and will expose you to some of the greats. Music is important to your dad and me for different reasons. Music is his industry, his trade, his passion, his hobbies, his strength and his talent. For me, I'm just an admirer of it all. When I was a kid, my dad played music out loud. My first memories of songs include "Heart of Gold" by Neil Young and "Tangled Up in Blue" by Bob Dylan. That is, if my dad was controlling the music. If I was in the car with my mom, it might have been a Bon Jovi tape. If I was at home with my older brothers, I was listening to everything from Bone Thugs to Pearl Jam. Of course, when I started to develop my own tastes, the world was consumed by Britney Spears and "N Sync (and I was no exception). I want to share with you a couple of songs that have shaped me for one reason or another. Your dad likely has his own list. And your grandparents will have their own lists. Your aunts and uncles will have their own lists, but right now it is my turn to  share. 

Pearl Jam. Both my mom and my brother listened to Pearl Jam when I was a kid, and I continue to love this band. Song-for-song, it might be my favorite band. When people ask me my favorite song, I unequivocally say "Pearl Jam's Black." Close seconds include "Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town" and "Release." 

Bob Dylan. This one is my dad's influence. Early on, I learned the value of good songwriting but I never minded Bob's unique vocals either. Although I did not become acquainted with this song until college, it is one of my very favorites. I love how Bob can capture the sentiment of an era or a people.  My favorite classes in college were on the Civil Rights Movement and American politics, so "Only a Pawn in their Game" always gave me the chills.

Mumford & Sons. What can I tell you about M & S? This was love at first listen. Sigh No More changed my life. I trained for my first half-marathon to that album. My mom took me to Nasvhille for my birthday to see them at the Ryman Auditorium third row. A month later, I was diagnosed with Diabetes. Then Babel came out and I was determined to get my revenge on the half marathon, so I trained to Babel.  I finished that half marathon, but I am not sure I would have done so without the music. Also, I was fortunate enough to attend the Grammy Awards the year that Mumford performed live and took home Album of the Year.

Yes Sir, That's My Baby. Well, I won't be able to get through this paragraph without tears. My PaPaw, who is extremely near and dear to my heart, is struggling mightily with his health. My earliest memories of him include bouncing on his knee and him singing Yes Sir, That's My Baby. No Sir, I don't mean maybe. Yes Sir, that's my baby now. When songs link so strongly with memories, they retain a special place in your heart. That's a beautiful thing about music, Eila, songs get to mean something entirely unique to you, and they live on.

Jason Isbell. Before your dad and I were dating, I had listened to a little bit of Jason Isbell because your cousin, Russ, told me about him. Then, your dad burned me a CD that had a lot of his songs on it. I loved it. We saw Jason Isbell at music fest when we first really hung out. We've since seen him at the Orpheum, Ryman and Tennessee Theatre. Our first dance at our wedding was to "Cover Me Up." The lyrics may sound inappropriate at times, but try not to take them too literally. Jason Isbell is the name on all of the music posters in your nursery, so obviously his music means a lot to us.

Little girl, you're going to have a lot happen in your life and you'll start to develop your own soundtrack. Music will take you to new depths and heights of emotion. Music will make you dance and exercise. Music will shape your love life and breakups. Music will heal your wounds and open old ones. Music will be one of the world's greatest gifts to you, and I hope you grow to appreciate it as much as your parents do. Except for Kid Rock. That's not okay. 



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