The sound of music


On my way to an unreasonably early Saturday morning conference, I found myself somewhat more of a curmudgeon than usual. It had been a long week. But as the alarm sounded, dutifully I dressed, woke the car from its slumber and lurched onward.

Discontentedly, I fumbled for something on the radio other than commercial announcements. With most travel time dedicated to the cellphone, I scarcely listen to music while on the road. But because of the early weekend hour, this day was different. Absentmindedly scanning from one station to the next, my attention was caught by a familiar note – the 1984 hit song “Ghostbusters.” Somewhere in the recesses of my mind, there must have been a related memory. As the tune played, the sun was breaking – it was a beautiful morning. In adjusting the volume upward and the window downward, I found the cool spring air filled with the smell of the coming thaw. In an instant, I was taken back and was a young man having just installed an aftermarket cassette deck into my pick-up truck. The memories, the sounds, the smells all seemed as fresh and abundant as decades ago. Is there something magic in this tune?  “Who was I going to call?” I wondered.

More likely, one is reminded that music has the power to align brain waves, to set the mood and to calm the savage beast. Since that faithful morning, I seek time in my day for a song. Certainly nostalgia is characteristic to a man of my age, but there is more to it than reminiscence. A simple arrangement of sound and rhythm can take us across time, continents and condition. And the soundtrack that rests behind our lives adds texture and pattern, helping us frame and recall the events and circumstances that connect and make us human.

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