March 10, 2007

Does music connect us through Time?

What is it worth that I know a song that my parents or grandparents knew?

Whether or not there's any real purpose or reward in such a moment of sentimentality, I still have it. It is little bit of obsessive curiousity that my heart and mind goes into whenever a piece of music or drama arouses old memories. Some tune or other blows a little air across a few old embers, bringing out fresh feelings, and it's always a little bit of surprise just how much they resonate like new each time, just for a moment.

Miles Davis plays "Autumn Leaves", and as I listen to his bop-jazz rendition, I hear someone's voice in my head, saying "That was your Grandmother's favourite song". "Sam", my mother's mother, liked music but I doubt that bop jazz played by a heroin-addicted jazz musician would have been Sam's cup of tea. I think she'd have been into Benny Goodman or The Mills Brothers.

Music and drama can underscore moments, they can draw people together. People usually sing when they're happy. Driving to Safeway one weekend a long time ago, my Dad and I sang along to "Dream" by the Everly Brothers. On their 13th anniversary, my Mum and Dad sang "You are my Sunshine" while Mum played the ukelele. My sister and I still remember that song. She sang it to her daughters, and my wife and I have sung it together too.

I can remember the theme song to "The Avengers" or "Are You Being Served?" - two TV shows that my Mum's father liked to watch on PBS. We all watched those together as a family. Without Poppy's influence - maybe his wish to have a family around him - perhaps we wouldn't have had that family time. Dad was too proud, and often a bit of a loner. He didn't tend to draw people around him that way. Living like that makes those moments of connections all the more rare and beloved.

It's like I need something to connect myself to these people - to have something, anything in common with them. I want to have a sense of connection with this family. "We all like music" or "we all sang that song together" - something like that.

Today, I get the same feelings when I hear those songs - like a time capsule has been opened in my mind, and there they all are inside, sitting and waiting for me to join them.

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