I’m an Air Force brat. Although I never liked that designation (probably because I was one), I grew up on United States Air Force bases. I was born in Northern California and spent time in four other states “on base” as a kid and around people of every type – military people. My parents were of humble origin in West Virginia and Mississippi and my dad’s promotion through the ranks of the Air Force brought a brand new mobility and ability to travel and meet folks and go to school together, play together on teams, and listen to music together.
So, even though I knew John Denver’s “Country Roads” as a sacred anthem of the WV family, I heard every style of music “on base” and my friends were diverse and yet aligned for purpose in the Air Force. I would never trade that experience of officers and enlisted families, people from every state, social class, ethnic origin, and career path all living and working together. It makes for a worldview of openness to other people, varied opinions, and range of music, as I stress daily: WE ALL LOVE OUR MUSIC – and we can share that music joyfully.
My dad’s favorite music is marching band military music. Not a popular genre. But I love that he loves it and I’m a trumpet player of sorts, so yeah, I like it. Powerful stuff. And through time, a lot of military music has signaled war and coming doom on peoples. But this Memorial Day, I celebrate in peace time with my dad, thirty-year Air Force veteran, and with those who love the United States of America. I happily memorialize the thousands of committed men and women who have given their lives for freedom over the years and around the world. When I hear the big bands or the marching bands play patriotic music for my country, I do celebrate the music itself, important, and the message and meaning embedded in our culture.
I thought I would keep moving along and have a different topic each week, beginning with “A Visible Created World” and then “Music is Important” and then….Music is Important 2, 3, and now 4. It just is completely true that music is vital to our lives and underestimated and overlooked in support and planning and (sometimes) quality execution. So I celebrate all music and will keep doing that until the series plays out. Just yesterday, someone had some hip hop beats playing in the car next to my convertible and my passenger was a trumpet player. I said, “What would be cool would be for you to break out your horn and drop this Spanish style trumpet line over those beats out the car window together with his music bed.” That is the “Music is Important” spirit, fun and shared.
Click off the sound on the YouTube video that inspires you. Mute the video ad. Watch the sweeping drone aerial shots of mountainous glory with no music bed purchased by the creator. Heck, even check out the auto insurance advertisement with no music. Imagine that.
If you do really imagine the world with no music, and really do it, there becomes a little rise of desperation that you will notice. Music is so vitally intertwined with our response mechanisms to content we experience daily. Desperation builds around the loss of meaning and reduction of inspiration and failure to communicate any story.
We need music in our lives.
My wife Joy and I watched “The Quiet Place” this week and she had never seen it. What a great pleasure for me to see her hesitantly take in the world of fear, a world without talking and just very low sounds. I won’t spoil this thriller of a movie but I noticed one new thing as I watched it – when the first song that comes on, from an artist I definitely do not appreciate much, it was so welcome, so warm, so homey, and sweet to my ears that I noticeably relaxed and exhaled and rested as it played (in the headphones only in the movie). What a delight to hear a singing voice with so much silence and tension.
If this pandemic has shown us globally anything good at all, it is the need for connection and the longing for interaction through the realities we face all the time of life and death. Music makes that connection more focused and deeper for context and celebration and grieving and thoughtfulness. Maybe the world has slowed down a bit in the past months for you and now you can have time to sit and listen to music. Maybe you can get out those old vinyl records or tune into that terrestrial radio station that plays obscure music down low on the dial and explore people’s stories. I know my adult sons have shared music with me at a higher rate this month.
So, even though it is sometimes that same sonorous soundtrack to inspire your purchase of some cleaning product by sweeping across gorgeous countryside with ambient piano jangling, or the beat that gets you going in the morning without your workout, or the little tune a child stings while working on a project – listen to music. We need it in our lives, it is important, and those who create it are inspired by all of our stories as they create something new from 12 tones and their experience. Listen.
Music is important.