One of the very first memories I have, is of my dad, laying on our living room floor, with his feet resting up on the couch. He was wearing big headphones that were attached to our stereo system, his eyes were closed, and he was lost in music.
I laid down beside him, put my feet up too. And tapped my foot to a song I couldn’t hear.
What was he listening to? I have no clue. I imagine it to be “In The Air Tonight” because that’s the song that I associate with our first home on Hopewell Crescent.
As cliché as it may be, music is indeed the soundtrack to our lives.
I grew up constantly surrounded by music. We had the latest electronics, and in every kitchen in every house we lived in, a radio was turned on on the counter. Music cannot be separated from the fabric of my past.
My mom choreographed routines as an aerobics instructor for her own business, so we always had tonnes of records and we’d often hear the same two bars of music over and over until she was content with the steps she created.
And Five, Six, Seven, Eight
We were quite young when my siblings and I figured out exactly how to change an album on the record player and how to record a song from the radio. We made up our own routines to Mini Pops’ cover songs long before we ever took dance lessons ourselves.
I remember bouncing around to Madonna just as often as singing along to Raffi.
In Kindergarten, Mr. Leonard played guitar and incorporated it into our everyday learning. I can still picture him singing “I am the computer man/I can do anything you can.” He was my teacher again years later in high school, and although he didn’t use the guitar, he still used music to teach us about poetry. He remains my favourtie teacher of all time.
At my second school, Mrs. Krawiec led school assemblies with “One Tin Soldier,” and at my third, Mademoiselle Boucher taught us Pachelbel’s Canon in D on the flûte-à-bec. It is seared into my brain as a song that symbolizes change in my life, and has turned up at every major life event since.
Anytime a new Michael Jackson record or video came out, my mom lost all sense and we were hushed and sat aside until the Prince was done.
Music featured prominently at family gatherings too. On my dad’s side, holidays were punctuated by sing-a-longs around the grown-up table, led by my uncle and his friends on guitar. All of us cousins would make up dances to perform for the adults after dinner. Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton, and other country superstars will forever remind me of walking into my grandparents’ house on the Beach Strip.
Elvis Presley and the Beatles frame my memories of my aunts and time spent with my mom’s side of the family. Here the cousins would entertain with dances to Cyndi Lauper or Madonna. When we were teenagers, a family gathering meant BBQs and live music played by my cousins’ band.
My grandmother loved music and Old Blue Eyes best. She passed away years ago, but I can still see her and my grandfather dancing to music from the 1940s at rental halls and recounting stories of contests won in their youth.
Growing up, I remember laying in my room for hours at 12 and 13 years old listening to old mix tapes that my dad had made of the Rolling Stones or Joe Cocker.
Rewind, play. Rewind, play.
In that same collection of cassette tapes, I lamented over love lost to Anne Murray and Roberta Flack.
In high school, I drove around with my best friend singing to Chicago and Bob Seger at the top of our lungs; made it through tough times with REM and survived angst with Hole.
I fell in Love to “Crazy For You” and out of it to “Tuesday’s Gone.”
My first boyfriend was all Exploited and Social Distortion. My husband is all Pearl Jam and Nirvana.
I bridged the years between high school and college with the poetry of Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen
I went to house parties which were all Rage Against the Machine, and experienced the Year of the Woman with Jewel and Natalie Merchant.
Canned Heat and The Band were my constant companions on road trips. Mumford & Sons will always deliver imagery of our most recent trip Out East.
I had the most spiritual of experiences listening to Native American music in South Dakota and Montana, while a few select Native Canadian songs saved me from the brink of a second round of Panic Disorder fairly recently.
My daughter bloomed inside me with the help of Enya, while a ballad by Poison or Guns N’ Roses was the only soothing comfort to my screaming infant son.
Janis Joplin kicks off every patio season, and Lynyrd Skynyrd complements a campfire.
Most recently, Bach held my hand on lonely walks home from my kids’ school and 1990s dance re-mixes provide an outlet for stress-relief in mid-afternoon, all out, solo dance parties.
The sense-memory of music is so strong at times, that if I close my eyes I can be right back at the moment it reminds me of, wearing the same clothes, feeling the same feelings.
Out of all the talents that one can have, I wished more than anything that I could sing. That way I could sit on a stage under lights with an acoustic guitar and combine my love of words with my love of music.
I’ve often thought that the coolest job in the world has to be be picking the music that accompanies specific scenes in movies. How cool would that be?! I hear a song and picture a bird’s-eye-view-shot of a car crossing a bridge into a big city; or a close-up of a woman in tears looking out a window that is doused in raindrops. How do you get that job, I wonder?
Music inspires stories and triggers memories; it motivates and comforts; it creates an atmosphere of unity and reflection. And it provides a tailor-made soundtrack to all the moments in our lives.
For all the languages that music can speak, and for all the space it occupies in the hallways of my mind … gratitude.