The Heart of Music

It’s hard to describe what happens to me when I strap on my guitar and strum the first chord of the first song of the first set. Something or someone else takes control, directing every move, every chord change, every word. I’m just the vessel, the transportation; destination unknown.

I think the heart of music is each of us, all of our hearts combined to form many vessels, many forms of transportation, with many unknown destinations. The beauty of all that is we don’t need to understand the heart itself, we just need to feel the body that contains it. But how is that possible?

Make a playlist of 20 or 25 of your favorite songs, then share that with someone, anyone, and ask them to make one and share it with you. I’m convinced that if we do that it just might be possible to feel, to see each other again. And heal ourselves from the hatred and division that has infected us.

Here’s a playlist of 20 of my favorites in no particular order. I know it might be hard for some of you to list only 20, or maybe even two or three, but even if it’s just one song that touches you in a special way, share it here with us in a comment. And then go out and feel the bodies of music all around you.

  1. Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright (Bob Dylan)
  2. Slither (Mandolin Orange)
  3. Misty’s Nightmares 1 & 2 (Father John Misty)
  4. Love is All (The Tallest Man On Earth)
  5. She Lit a Fire (Lord Huron)
  6. Over The Rainbow (Eva Cassidy)
  7. Red Light (The Paper Kites)
  8. Cedar Lane (First Aid Kit)
  9. Blacktop (Julien Baker)
  10. Holocene (Bon Iver)
  11. Tennessee Whiskey (Chris Stapleton)
  12. Hey Hey What Can I Do (Led Zeppelin)
  13. Hotel California (Eagles)
  14. How To Forget (Jason Isbell)
  15. Wooden Ships (Crosby, Stills & Nash)
  16. Pink Rabbits (The National)
  17. The House That Built Me (Miranda Lambert)
  18. I Can Almost See You (Hammock)
  19. Am I Going Up (All Them Witches)
  20. Blue Moon of Kentucky (Bill Monroe)

I let them go

I very rarely shed a tear, but I hear that a good cry every now and then is healthy for the soul. I’m not sure I know what a “good” cry is as opposed to a bad one. Is there a difference? If so, how can I tell that the cry I’m feeling will be a good one or a bad one? It must be based on the emotion that brought on the feeling to cry. Sadness is most often associated with crying, I think. But I know there’re joyful occasions of crying too.

When the feeling to cry presents itself it usually arrives with a song I’m listening to. Sometimes the feeling to cry is instagated by a melody I strike up on my guitar, no words, just a melody. I have several of them saved on my iPhone, waiting for words. Melodies always show up for me first, and most often with the cry feeling attached. I wish words would come as easy, but alas, they don’t.

I listen to a lot of folk and Americana music and sometimes the words I hear with the melodies cause a feeling to cry. But I don’t cry, or maybe I can’t for some reason. Perhaps the cry area of my brain doesn’t function normally. Whatever the reason, tears rarely form, but I know they are there, hiding, I can feel them burning the back of my eyes. And there’s that odd feeling in my throat, like tears are trying to come out from there too.

Death is surely one of the top reasons folks cry. But even at that, my tears stay hidden. I remember my maternal grandmother’s funeral, lots of crying, not me. When my dear mother and father passed, my eyes weren’t wet with tears like those of my siblings. Sad stories of friends and family members passing don’t stir me to tears. I feel sad yes, but I don’t cry. I wish I had a normal cry function. I worry though, that if I started crying, I wouldn’t stop. Perhaps oceans of tears are stored somewhere in me, and they’re waiting, waiting for the perfect moment in time when flood gates are no longer needed. Only then will I let them go.