Music…My friends and family know how much it truly means to me. Those of you reading these posts have almost certainly surmised how important it is to me by this point as well. I think what it all comes down to is that music can be entirely frivolous, powerful, political, sad, thought provoking, challenging, fun, heartbreaking, and angry by equal turns. To me, every one of those ideas is a valid reason to listen. Not just to one artist or genre, but to anything and everything that you like and feel a connection and respond to. Music takes me on a journey every time, and the destination is always new.
Other people might not entirely see it that way. They have little time or inclination to seek out new music and new performers. The subtle nuances of that Pink Floyd album may go unnoticed. The heartache and heartbreak of a George Jones ballad might be easily dismissed as maudlin. The mesmerizing singing of Billie Holiday or Nina Simone might pale in comparison to Taylor Swift. However YOU feel about any of the above to use them as examples is irrelevant. Not everyone wants to be a music historian. Not everyone wants to be able to tell you why they like the cover version better than the well established original. To use the standard phrase, they like what they like and that is all that matters. Fair enough.
Except when it isn’t. One observation I have made about music is how inevitably there are places and situations where music outside of your normal comfort zone just seems so fucking right for that particular time. Even if that song or genre of music is something you proclaim to loathe. So cue Journey coming on the stereo at a crowded bar and everyone singing Don’t Stop Believing. Or maybe it is anxiously waiting for the da da dah part to Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline. Perhaps one might completely dislike anything called country music, but finds themselves singing along to Tammy Wynette on Stand By Your Man, or gleefully singing ‘I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die’ along with Johnny Cash. Yes, there are even times when you are sitting in a bar that Piano Man by Billy Joel really resonates, even after hearing it for the 4763rd time.
What I am thinking about goes beyond the ‘guilty pleasure’ however. What I mean are those moments when music hits you, grabs you, moves you at precisely the right time, even when you don’t know much about the music. But you feel it…because its the right time. A celebratory classical music piece you hear at a wedding. A bagpipe tune played at a funeral. A sing along song that seems just right for a road trip down some back country roads. Maybe a lone accordion playing a romantic song as you walk hand in hand with someone special. Or a jazz standard as you sit and sip a cocktail imagining you were in a black and white film noir movie.
The opposite of that is when you actually know the song but it takes on a new meaning for you. It might be a song you have known for years until one day it knocks you over senseless at a moment of vulnerability, or sadness in your life. Perhaps it comes on when you are driving and that one lyric makes you pause at how beautifully written it is and how fitting it seems for you. So no matter whether you know the song or not, when something comes on at the right time you feel inspired and strengthened by the experience. This idea of ‘the right time’ is something I have thought about for years, but it really came to fruition yesterday when I was out for a run.
2 years ago at this time I was gradually building up endurance and on the weekends was comfortably going for 5 or 6 miles, something I hadn’t done in years. Since then, I don’t know what has happened. Maybe something in my head, maybe the wrong kind of shoes, maybe excuses, excuses. I just have not felt as comfortable. But an item on the 50 Things @50 bucket list is to run a 5K, also something I have also not done in years. So I started back up again once things settled in my personal life. As the days and weeks have gone by, I am slowly feeling more comfortable again and headed towards that goal. Running, like any exercise is about pushing as you tell yourself-come on..don’t stop now! One more mile…don’t stop until you pass that gas station…now you passed that gas station so keep going…keep pushing. That is how I challenge myself to go further. No big surprise I’m sure, but the music really helps do that for me too. And none more than this song by The Scissor Sisters.
Those piano chords start off with that mid-tempo groove you know will lead to something more upbeat. You just have to wait for it to get there. And when it does, and that big bass beat comes in and the music becomes more insistent, I feel like The Flash instantly. My pace speeds up, I feel stronger, my form is perfect. I feel like I could run around the world and back again. All because a song came on at the right time and all was right with me, if only for those few moments of the song.
I liken it to moments in my photography at times. Sometimes I see something I know would make an interesting subject matter as a photo. Usually something I see or pass by regularly. But I know as a photographer it isn’t ‘the right time’ usually because of the lighting or other distractions in place. When the elements fall into place it all comes together. Case in point the photo I am using in this post. One thing or another defeated it for me until one day I was walking past and the elements all came together and I knew it was the ‘right time’.
What are some songs that come along at the right time for you?
Fire With Fire-Written By Scott Hoffman, Stuart Price, & Jason Sellards
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All Photographs By Robert P. Doyle
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