Legs with class!
Day Three’s Writing assignment from WordPress.com is to free-write for fifteen minutes about the three most important songs in my life, what they mean to me.
Well that’s on the one hand an exciting topic since music and singing are probably among my top three passions (not sure about the other two). I grew up wanting to be a singer, sort of like a combined Ella and Doris maybe. Didn’t happen, even though I took voice lessons in NYC. Probably was for the best, though I really could sing.
So, three songs? Not likely, since I’m past the half century mark, I’ve forgotten more special songs than I remember! I started with two, one that has us all singing and dancing, Pharrell Williams’ Happy. Started searching for another, it became overwhelming until I recalled an early song that really was a kind of mantra for me way back when, a Peggy Lee hit, Is That All There Is?. Some of you are too young to remember the song or Ms. Lee, a musicians’ jazz/pop singer if there ever was one.
Then I decided to go outside the box, forget the third song, muse about some of the classic singers who’ve been my lifeblood. And, I’m sparing you the half-hour unwieldy free write with it’s requisite dispensing of spelling and punctuation. I’ll just summarize my revelations.
First off, this topic is too rich for half and hour let alone the minimum fifteen minutes requested. Music and singing are a lot more important to me than I’ve admitted. I sort of survived on it like some do food. It’s like oxygen for me, mixed with a little champagne or some fancy fruit smoothie. Listening to, following and singing along with a host of musicians has really been my main source of joy. I’m remembering being in a dorm when the eclectic New York City girl next door came and grabbed me out of my room to watch Barbara Streisand in one of her debut performances on TV. She never gave me the time of day before, my not being exactly a Carrie Bradshaw type. We both stood with our mouths hanging open! If you’re not a Streisand fan you may not get that. But I don’t mind saying, the current crop of musicians can’t hold a candle to the artists of that era. Artists like Amy Winehouse might agree with me. This is the era of techies, not musicians.
One of my claims to fame was being in the audience for Streisand’s landmark free, unannounced “A Happening in Central Park” in NYC. So, I’m actually on a hit album cover! And then there’re some others like Shirley Bassey and Ella, Frank, Nat, or Nana Mouskouri. That barely scratches the surface. I would rather have starved than live without music. When I got out of grad school, the first thing I bought after a bed was a stereo system! That was it. And this doesn’t even include all the classical and jazz artists I collected, went to see, and lived with day and night.
So no chance I can write about three songs. But I wrote about the two mentioned above recognizing a dichotomy between them, a progression over time to my present life experience. Is That All There Is really is a mournful song, a depressing song even, though I didn’t feel particularly depressed, even as I worried about why I loved it so much. Revisiting it through this project I’m seeing it was the beginning of my spiritual trek. Not that life had nothing but disappointment to offer so much as life as we’ve been raised to view it is very limited, can seem very awful for a lot of folk. The way we experience it, through our seeing and hearing, eating and everything else sensory is actually far less wonderful than it’s invisible, unrecognized, but accessible underpinning. It’s so-called spiritual source for want of a better word. And it has fewer side-effects, like the way the tastiest food is either fattening or bad for you.
Life viewed from a higher elevation, more from the heart or soul, through our own creative, elevated vision is one way I’d put it. Sort of like from outer space. I see I had to have all my castles and idols demolished in order to even begin to accept this. All the “things” we strive to get ended up feeling lacking for me. Artists and other creative types know this, that it’s what we bring to the table not what we can grab from it that makes the difference.
It’s living out from the kingdom, our inner gold mine of joy and intelligence within. I think my love of music was a substitute for not getting out there myself, not bringing forth my own joy. I think Pharrell’s song is tapping into this, our growing recognition that we bring forth the happiness; we don’t look for some thing, or some person, some success, some bling to bring it to us.
But, sadly that’s the prevailing ethic. I choose to believe the success of Happy says we’re beginning to get it. Judy Garland, another incomparable entertainer from before my time, used to sing another similar and popular song, “Forget your troubles, come on get happy, You better chase all your cares away… The sun is shinin’, come on get happy”. For years these seemed like cute sayings. Today we have a lot a science to back up the fact, they work. There are PhD’s now promoting happiness as better than a pot of gold!
Here’s hoping I’m right, and if not, I’ll have to be satisfied with simply making it right for me.