I’ve always loved music. Probably one of the biggest influences whilst growing up has been my dad and although we may not have generally shared many of the same tastes, he’s taught me a lot and I’m certain that’s been part of the reason music has had, and still has such an effect on me. He plays the drums and used to play in a jazz band with my great aunt, who is an impressive pianist. I started playing the piano when I was about 7 years old through to being a teenager and for a couple of years also played the flute. I remember going to visit my grandparents and great aunt and uncle and sitting at her piano playing the pieces I’d been learning for pleasure and some for music exams. She’d then play and I’d watch in awe as her fingers danced over the keys!
My sister and I grew up listening to a range of music that used to come out of our parents stereo. Mum would favour Phil Collins, Genesis, The Walker Brothers and The Shadows while Dad would wait until she was at work and blast out the likes of Gary Moore and Joe Satriani at the highest volume possible, much to the dismay of me and sister! Sometimes we’d escape to our nan’s house who lived in the next road across from ours and on walking home up the footpath that linked the two, you could hear the beat of the music blasting from the house! I remember one time it was turned up so loud, the thumping of the bass caused so much vibration, the speaker shuffled off the shelf it was on and fell to the floor with a crash, missing our family dog by a couple of inches! When mum and dad were both home together, they’d compromise and both enjoyed bands such as The Hollies, The Beach Boys and The Beatles.
The first record I bought (yes, actual vinyl record), I’m hesitant to reveal, was Jason Donovan’s ‘Ten Good Reasons’ album, swiftly followed by a more ‘modern’ cassette tape of Kylie Minogue’s first album. Soon after, I was given a walkman and thought I was the bees knees, at the cutting edge of music technology dancing about in the garden with my headphones on and my walkman clipped on to my jeans! From the age of about ten years old, I came across a band who I would love forever. I collected every one of their singles and albums and had Take That posters covering every single centimetre of my bedroom wall. To the amusement of several of my friends, I still love them to this day!
I’ve been to many concerts in my time and seen an array of musicians and bands including The Hollies, The Beegees, The Backstreet Boys, Boyzone, Westlife, Paul McCartney, Elton John, Gary Moore, The Stereophonics, Claire Teal and of course Take That to name but a few.
Music today? I tend to fall in love with songs rather than artists or bands, although there some artists and bands I love. I love how particular songs, without us even being aware of it, can take us right back into the middle of experiences, events and key moments and time periods of our lives. A song can define so much. Sometimes it’s just the melody, the beat, other times the lyrics seem to speak straight to us, tell our stories or speak into particular times in our lives.
Sometimes I’ll use music as a way of releasing emotion. If something is going on within me and I need a release but can’t express it, I’ll play music which helps express it and I’ll release the emotion as I listen, letting it penetrate my heart and wash over me. Sometimes I’m not even intentional about releasing emotion, I could be going about life and I’ll hear a particular song, a melody, a lyric and it evokes feelings and emotions outside of my control.
Sometimes I purely use music as a motivator. It is easier to exercise to music, easier to do housework to music. I have a playlist I’ll put on really loudly with a bit of extra bass and dance and sing as I clean, scrub, polish and hoover my way around the house.
Sometimes I just want to listen to music because I’m happy and I want to express it! I have a ‘happy happy joy joy’ playlist of upbeat, sunshiny songs that without fail, cause my sprits to soar off the planet.
And then there is drivetime. I love being in the car, driving somewhere, music up loud and singing my heart out where no one can hear me, it’s just me, myself and I … and the songs.
Beyond all these, there is another level to my music listening and that is worship music. Again chosen to reflect where I’m at; reflective or thankful or to build and encourage faith and truth.
Music can express the inexpressible.
We’ve all been in a room where a song has come on and we’re transported away to another world, a memory, an experience, a feeling, an emotion, a meaning, a hidden communication. And even as music styles change and artists and bands come and go, there are melodies and lyrics being written in studios right now, that will somehow find themselves woven into our lives in the future, defining times yet to come, preserving them forever and occasionally springing forth when they are played through the airwaves.