Music and Memories

I was standing at the counter
I was waiting for the change
When I heard that old familiar music start
It was like a lighted match
Had been tossed into my soul
It was like a dam had broken in my heart

After taking every detour
Getting lost and losing track
So that even if I wanted
I could not find my way back
After driving out the memory
Of the way things might have been
After I’d forgotten all about us
The song remembers when.

Those lyrics are from a Trisha Yearwood song entitled, not surprisingly, “The Song Remembers When”.  And it has everything to do with why music is such a personal, powerful experience for me.

From the time I was young, I remember watching the adults in my life have visceral reactions to songs.  I remember seeing tears in my mother’s eyes when the song “Because He Lives” was playing on the record spinning at the time.  (At the time, I didn’t understand.  Now that song evokes the same response in me.)  I sat in the sanctuary of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Farmington, New Mexico, on Easter morning and watched as tears started falling down the faces of nearly every member of the choir.  I was probably 6 years old or so at the time.  Years later, my parents would explain that it had been a rough path getting to the performance and it seemed like everything that could go wrong, was going wrong.  All the frustration led to shortened tempers and some tense conversations.  At the perfect moment in the cantata they were performing, the sun hit the rose window in the balcony and bathed the choir in colored light.  The purpose of the day, the reason we were celebrating became the only thing that mattered and the responses of the choir members could be seen on their wet cheeks.

In my own life, there have been songs that have caused my eyes to fill with tears almost from the first note.  There are songs that leave me invigorated and feeling like I could conquer the world.  There are songs that hit me between the eyes with a truth I hadn’t considered before.  And more times than I can count, I’ve heard lyrics that made me think, “Yes!  That’s it!  I haven’t known how to say it but those are exactly the words I’ve been looking for!”

Sometimes the songs I’m talking about are connected to matters of faith.  Sometimes they are not.  But one thing holds true – songs stick in my brain because I have an emotional connection to them.  Or maybe I have a connection to the first time I really heard the song.  Whatever the original circumstance, those songs are always there.  I can go without hearing a certain meaningful song for years and when I hear it again, I’ll be able to sing every word without a mistake.  More importantly, I’m instantly transported back to that moment in time when the song first imprinted itself on my heart.

Trisha was right.  The song DOES remember when.

Only In You – The Story Behind the Song

I would like to tell you that recurring themes show up in my songs because I’m really good at focusing on concepts until I perfect them.  I would LIKE to tell you that but I’d rather be honest.  The existence of recurring themes in my songs is due to the simple fact that I can be a little hard-headed when it comes to learning lessons.

“Only in You” is a reminder that joy comes from exactly one source – my relationship with my Heavenly Father.  Period.  When that relationship is being nurtured, inner joy is palpable.  When I am setting aside time to be with my Abba my sense of purpose is well-defined and the next step is crystal clear.  It’s when I start worrying about what others think, when I allow my focus to be misdirected, that I find myself struggling.  I start to doubt my calling and purpose.  I start to second guess what I’m supposed to do next.

So this song draws my focus back to the ONLY source of joy and the only being able to confirm my sense of purpose.  It’s that simple and that difficult.

I find my greatest sense of worth
In the presence of my King on bended knee.

You will make known to me the path of life; In your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.  ~Psalm 16:11