Music Holds The Secret

‘Music holds the secret
To know it can make you whole
It’s not just a game of notes
It’s the sounds inside your soul’

“Hold On” – Just A Game – TRIUMPH

Closer To Home is laced with musical references from some of my favorite groups and their songs. Music is fundamental to the plot, stemming from Shaw’s musical childhood that ultimately grows him to a successful business owner in Baton Rouge, and then to his initial encounter with Bronagh at a local pub. In his arrogance, to manage the woman who has captured his attention, Shaw insists Bronagh dance with him to Grand Funk Railroad’s “I’m Your Captain/Closer To Home”, setting the tone of the relationship that follows and fuses separate plot hints to the story’s title, mirroring the two separate but related movements of the classic hit.

For most, music is an elementary foundation for each of us. It is present from our first moments of life, whether from our mother’s hum of a lullaby or the gaggle of bells on a merry-go-round; it’s one of our first memories. It’s mood provoking, tear-jerking, dancing alone in the rain motivational when we discover it in its simplicity.

We learn to love a genre and a style, even a favorite instrument. Then we find our favorite songs. They become our favorite songs because they are our untold stories – whether we even realize it’s our tale or not. We are drawn to them like a moth to a flame. When caught up in our own routines, busy lives, going to work, shuttling kids to and fro, and in the midst of some profound frustration, our favorite song streams through the speakers of the car, and suddenly we are transported, in mind and body, to a place that is happy, possibly sad, or even mean. But it brings us to a familiar environment that settles us into contentment and comfort.

It’s a memory, a smell, a taste, or a touch. It’s the first kiss stolen just beyond your parent’s sight. It’s the first stumbled drunk you tied-on. The first fight. The foul word that left your mouth. The moment you realized you’ve comforted someone instead of brought them pain. A recollection. A recall.

I liken it to a fond memory of my own. My brother, Mark, was a huge influence on me. He was a brilliant trumpeter in his high school marching band, with a natural ear for music. His passion for music seeped from his pores. He introduced me to his 1970’s music, and the late hippy tunes took hold nearly immediately. And it was diverse. The Carpenters to Boston. Carole King to Foghat. Those were magical days, “Old Days”, as Chicago penned, drive-in movies, baseball cards, and blue jeans (bell-bottoms at that), simple pleasures take me back: memories. A simpler time of LP’s, then 8-track tapes, heavy components, and huge speakers. Lord! I look at my mp3 player and, although grateful for the capacity, I sadly remember the sound of a needle hitting vinyl.

Mark, a music-techno geek had nice equipment, a beautiful turntable and a wicked receiver. I would snag his LP’s: Fleetwood Mac, Jim Croce, Chuck Mangione, and of course, Chicago: it’s all about the horns after all. I’d trail off to my room to put the pristine LP on my heavy-needled record player and jam. Naturally, I replaced them where I’d taken them from, worse for wear of course, and noticeably damaged under the precision of his diamond-needled turntable. Yelling and screaming always followed, but I never failed to snatch another favorite album.

Finally, out of utter frustration, having his $8 – $12 album wrecked, Mark made a deal with me. I could have ALL of his 45’s – every single one – if I promised to never touch another LP. Naturally, I agreed. We lived in harmony after that with Mark relinquishing a stack of 45’s that measured a foot deep, banking on my promise to not even look at his long plays.

Not long after I became the proud owner of his collection of singles, Mark heard me singing Bob Segar’s Main Street. He laughed at me, “You like a song about a stripper.”

I vehemently protested! “It’s a song about a memory, not a stripper!”
He laughed again.
To this day, I would wager on poll results: it’s a memory. It’s Segar’s “Ann Street”, a sweet memory of days gone by, shooting pool, and enjoying a drink with friends.

It’s nostalgic. Music conjures up an almost forgotten sentiment when it pierces the vein coursing between our heart and our soul. It is what music compels us to do: to reach back, grab hold, and never let go of the memories that worked us, shaped us, and made us the passionate, sometimes mean-spirited, but, always loving people who still put a diamond needle to vinyl, or at minimum, throw on 8 compact disks into a changer so that we may remember and reminisce.

  1. Byron Foster says:

    Whats so amazing about music, songs are embedded in certain memories, throughout our lives. When a song is heard, memories of happiness, sadness, joy, pain, love, and heartache are conjured up from the past, allowing us to, for a moment, relive the memory. Music is the Master Key of the subconscious.

    • I just love this: “Music is the Master Key of the subconscious.”

      Well said Byron! If you listen with your heart, music fingers at your soul, and takes you on a whirlwind journey of sentimental memories. It’s not a wonder that our emotional responses and our musical aesthetics are complacent roommates in the same hemisphere of our brains.

      Thanks for your comments!

Leave a Reply