A friend of mine constantly astounds me by posting music I fall in love with immediately. This morning, for instance, I learn that snow is falling in Vancouver and I open facebook and this person has posted, once again, an amazing band I've never heard. I give the song a listen and am flooded with feeling. Feelings. I cry and I can't tell you if it's from sorrow or joy. But likely it's both. For me, they tend to emote simultaneously.
And moments like that are few and far between these days. I mean, Life is busy, but in my heart I know they're few and far between because I try not to go there anymore these days. To open that part of myself and let those feelings flood me the way they do. The way they are doing right now.
Just, occasionally, I cannot help it if I listen to some song. It only takes one little song sometimes. Music has such power.
The day after we moved, I bought my son a wooden xylophone. For his first birthday, I bought him a little drum. I want to surround him with instruments as he's growing so that if he's in any way inclined, maybe he will take a real interest in it. He already shows great interest. One of the playlists I created months ago is simply called Spring. Either the songs have something to do with that season or they evoke the season for me. The first song in the playlist is by an amazing artist called Sufjan Stevens. It's got a long title: Concerning the UFO Landing Near Highland, Illinois.
wings of desire
Well, just about every time I start that playlist and Sufjan's song begins, my son beams the widest smile imaginable. Suddenly he stops whatever he is doing. He looks at me and bares all of his teeth and he has at least 12 pearly whites now. Unbelievable. What he does then is he bends his knees a little and he starts to bob up and down and after he bobs up and down for a bit, he begins to sway his head from side to side like he's a jazz musician. Sometimes, swear to God, he closes his eyes. He REALLY gets into it. He dances through the whole song like he's in a trance.
This particular tune never lets me down. He rarely fusses in the car, but when he does begin to feel a bit restless I switch to this playlist and as soon as that piano begins, his lips unfurl and his eyes twinkle and his feet begin flopping around. It's almost as though he gives me a little wink when I turn my head to look at him. He understands that when I put this song on, what I'm saying is, "I love you more than the moon. More than the smell of cedar, the crackle of woodfires. More than an ocean full of water." He totally gets that. And so he beams at me. As if to say, "I love ya right back, mama." An unusual connection exists between the songs of this particular artist and this baby boy of mine for some reason. Has existed from the very beginning. Maybe his fetal hearing attuned itself that first morning my iPod played and he fell in love with the music, too. I especially love that this is the song that has caught my son's heart. "In the spirit of three stars," sings Sufjan. And my own heart catches in my throat. I think of the three stars out there, my three little babies I've lost. One in '98. One in 2003. And my son's twin. His twin. Two years ago October. I have always thought of them as stars. My son's siblings shining up there in the sky watching over him. "Incarnation," sings Sufjan, "three stars, delivering signs and dusting from their eyes."
What is it about music, hey? Why do I carry this crazed gene that just can't get enough of it? Especially when I took music lessons. As a young girl, I laboured through them. Not once were they easy for me! Still to this day, I have trouble reading music. I couldn't tell you which note was what if someone played one for me. But maybe that's why I can't get enough of it. It is something I covet. I turn green with envy when I hear a band play amazing music. I wish I had their incredible talent. Often, when I hear a song I fall in love with, I do wish I were getting up on stage and singing that song, fretting that guitar. I know I'm not alone there, though I don't sing in the shower. I sing a lot to my son, however. For some crazy reason, he loves when I sing to him. (Thank Gawwwd because most of the time I suck at it. But his face lights up when I sing to him. Maybe he's tone deaf.)
The other night, I put him to bed and descend the stairs to tidy up and emitting from the second floor is this endless giggling. I can hear him chatting to his bear. You oughta see this bear. A very dear friend gifted him with it and it's bigger than him. Every night he wraps his arms around this bear and snuggles with it. And the other night, the two of them would not shut up. Constant squeals of delight and low mumblings. Then silence. I guess, the two of them must have decided it was time to sleep. They stop whispering and drift off to slumberland. It's not all that strange to talk to bears is my point.
It's Saturday night. 2:00 am. Okay, okay. Sunday morning. I just finished trying to catch up on the third season of Mad Men. And I wanted to write something. I wanted to write an email. But I can't. I just can't. It's harder for me than reading music. A gazillion times harder than finding Middle C. (For me.)
So I sit here writing this because it's all I've got. Right now. It's the only thing I can communicate with at 2:00am. On a Saturday night. Early on a Sunday morning. I hope someone out there can hear me.
Here's what I want to convey. It's a message.
The song I heard today made me smile and cry. As I listened the image I got was of a bear running through the forest. It's hungry. Not a black bear. The coat is brown. It's a grizzly. But it's not full grown yet. It's a grizzly because it's out West somewhere. Somewhere still pristine. As pristine as you can get. And its paws hit this stream and suddenly it stops. It tilts its head. Its nostrils widen. The small, beady eyes try to focus as best they can. There's a message coming through. In the form of a song. It flies through the forest. Through the wind in the leaves of the trees. Over the mountains. The bear listens and the pump in its heart opens and shuts, opens and shuts as it ingests each note. Its ears perk. The notes shoot into its blood and sinew and get sucked into its ventricles like heroin.
In my mind's eye, I can see through the shaggy coat for a moment to the pomegranate red of the heart in his chest beating wildly and a camera zooms to the slow motion drops of water sliding off the bear's hide then begins to speed through the trees and, just as suddenly, takes another slow-mo circuitous path around a second bear halted with head tilted. The tongue has stopped lolling. The mouth shuts in concentration. The camera again races off in a maze of tree trunks to a third set of black button eyes, ears straining, nostrils flaring. Then up, up, up through the trees, flying backwards through the leaves and fir and cones, the camera pulls above the tree line and from this great height one can see tiny, red, glowing hearts burning in savage breasts as every bear stops to listen. They beat simultaneously, dotted like campfires all over the mountains. Each bear frozen in its path, yearning to decipher the message.
Someone is pretending to forget...
Oh, and on that note. Here's another song. It's not for the grizzly. But I send it out West, over the Rockies, through the forests and down Main St. where I know for a fact that flakes can fall big as your fist. Plummeting much more slowly than the heart of a bear or anyone's.
Mine, for instance.
Music: Message to Bears, Found You and You're Safe
This post dedicated to Ciara over at Milkmoon