I've just returned from my latest Odyssey, siren free, and I'm realizing what a huge role music plays as I move from one place to another. There are the calming melancholy artists who I can listen to as background music as I doze on long plane rides; there are the tunes which span the 130-B.P.M. range, which have "natural party vibes" to them and that keep me moving from gate to gate or allow me to escape into a celebratory mindset amidst the grind of boarding a plane (I admit, I sometimes break into a dance while waiting for the first class passengers to board--I try not to sing out loud). The beauty of these various playlists is that they allow me to be every age I've ever been and to appreciate how very real and true any and all of the perspectives on love, loss, and life are at any given moment. And I'm grateful: I'm grateful to the artists of my youth for allowing me some nostalgia, for singer songwriters who tug my heartstrings at this age, and for today's pop stars who remind me not to take my older self quite so seriously.
Three artists have inspired me in the last days. Two of these are new additions to my playlists, recommended by Canadian colleagues this past week.
Serena Ryder, a fabulous Canadian singer-songwriter has been on repeat for me since I added her to my playlist last night. Two teachers were telling me a story (excitedly) about having sat next to her while having a beer at a local folk festival in Winnipeg until they picked up on the fact that I didn't know who they were talking about. I figured I'd better figure out. Her song, "What I Wouldn't Do" begins, "If you should fall to pieces, you know I'll pick them up." Regardless of my own stance on romantic love at this point in my life, I'm a sucker for the articulation of this sort of testament to an other. "Whispering wind is blowing, telling me I'm not alone....Your love is like a river that I am floating down; I've never been a swimmer, but I know that I'll never drown."
Josh Garrels' "Ulysses" was the song that allowed me to release some tears after an exhausting week. One of the teachers I had been working with over the course of the week handed me a post-it at the end of the session yesterday with the recommendation that I check out this song (the recommendation was prompted by the reading of a section of The Odyssey in our work together). "I'm holding on to hope that one day this could be my right...cuz I've been shipwrecked and left for dead and I've seen the darkest sights. Everyone I've loved seems like a stranger in the night. But oh my heart still burns, tells me to return, search the fading light." These are lines that remind me that I have a broken-open heart.
This power, this honesty, this hope that is illustrated in the songs that are written for public consumption never fails to inspire me, even if I'm not sailing home to anyone in particular, and even if I wouldn't follow someone to another country; sometimes it's enough for me to know that there are others who are and who would, and who hold each other in such regard, and with such tenderness even for a moment, that it makes it seem like the world is just a little softer, regardless if it's fleeting or not.
Lastly, I'm loving Lorde. At this point, I think everyone has had a chance to hear "Royals": "no postcode envy...we don't care; we're driving cadillacs in our dreams...we aren't caught up in your love affair." And I love that. I love the simple statement, that "we crave a different kind of buzz." Lovely. And she's magically lovely. I would have wanted to be her when I was a teenager, of this I'm certain.
And what's the point of these musings? To say that there are so many beautiful ideas and words and beats and truths that flowed through my earbuds in the last days that have helped me both acknowledge and escape my reality. There is so much emotion inherent in the music that we listen to. I'm grateful, actually, that I'm willing to engage the emotion, to listen hard, to feel empathy, to feel connected, and to simply let it become a part of me.
[On a final note? One that all of my friends will be embarrassed to see in writing? Miley Cyrus' acoustic version of "We Can't Stop" on SNL? Bravo. Don't be a hater; that was fabulous.]