I’ve never really considered music to be a large part of my life, but with all of the hours I’ve spent struggling with my guitar lately, I reminisced a little. And it turns out that my life does have a soundtrack.
It’s not that I’ve never considered music important, it’s just that when I hear a song, the lyrics are far more interesting to me than the melody, or beat, or what-have-you. Everything I do is about words.
It turns out, hearing music is almost as good as smell for bringing back memories; everyone else in the world probably knew this, but it came as something of a surprise to me. Once I realized this, in a very uncomfortable way, I spent an hour or so making an 8 hour playlist of songs that had some significance to my past… the iTunes playlist – this generation’s answer to the mix tape.
As I said before, I don’t really have strong emotions anymore (my first shrink appt in 20 years is happening in about an hour and half from now), but a song came on in a store earlier this week that punched me in the stomach and almost made me throw up and I realized I should use this little phenomenon in a non-throwing up way.
When I was a senior in high school, I was raped. My car – piece of shit – had overheated on the interstate and a man pulled over and offered me a ride back to where I worked so someone could help me bring water back. Well, it took two hours to get back to my job and the time between was a fucking nightmare. I was raped in the back of the car. Very soon after that, “Get Out of My Dreams,” that jaunty little tune by Billy Ocean, started hitting the airwaves. This was back when radio was important to us. I couldn’t stand it, and if you know the words, you’ll understand why. Even though I’m long over what happened that night, I still can’t hear that song without some horrible physical reaction.
What does still bother me about that incident, however, is my mother. I love the woman, but we don’t see eye to eye on anything. She’s a fundamentalist Christian, permanently ensconced in her sheltered little world of the South – I’m a gay atheist Democrat… you do the math. Though we talk on the phone roughly once a month, I rarely go see her. But, the last time I did, she asked me a question that will make me angry for the next hundred years. She asked if I was really raped that night. Over twenty fucking years later, she’s going to ask me something like this; and I knew why. I calmed the rage that flashed and calmly asked her if she would be asking my sister that question if she had been in that situation. Because my sister likes men, that wouldn’t mean that someone raping her would be welcome – and the same was true of me. Anyway, I digress. I’d been willing to forget everything that happened when we were kids, but I can’t forget that question. Oh, yeah, I was talking about music, not rape…
My tastes run in a very lesbionic direction – lotta women; most of them with guitars.
When I hear Cheryl Crow, I’m back in a U-Haul, pulling out of Baton Rouge on my way to the Great Unknown. Before that trip where I moved to Boston, I’d never been any farther north than Little Rock, Arkansas. Cheryl and ‘Leaving Las Vegas’ gave me courage.
The Indigo Girls; I’m back on a train, heading for Colorado -with “Get Out the Map” making it feel more like an adventure than a rescue mission.
The Dixie Chicks; I’m walking down a country road in Maine (that’s almost all the roads they have in Maine), dreaming about “Cowboy Take Me Away” and “Wide Open Spaces.”
And Melissa Etheridge has gotten me through breakups, new loves, friend’s deaths, new friendships, loneliness, parties, absolutely everything.
So, I’ve turned off the podcasts and audio books for a little while and rediscovered the guitar playing women who’ve been with me (in spirit) – and that’s inspired me to keep plugging away at this guitar thing. I need more music in my life, and I always love something more when I’m the one that makes it.