Your Life’s Soundtrack
I was eleven or twelve when my grandfather gave me my first radio. It was a simple am/fm transistor radio. My grandparents had upgraded theirs and thought it a great gift for me. I was thrilled to have it.
Sitting in my bedroom, I would search the dial for the latest and greatest of music. With no headphones, I would frequently hear my mom yell, “turn that thing down,” as she was working in the kitchen. I remember multiple conversations where mom and dad questioned my grandfather’s wisdom.
Over the years, the equipment has changed. Boomboxes, cassette tapes, Walkmans, CDs, iPods, and now Spotify. I can’t tell you how many times I joined and then re-joined those clubs where you got a dozen tapes for one penny. Change your first name from Dan to Daniel to Danny, and add a middle initial, even if was not mine. [the statute of limitations is up, correct?]
However you found your music, I am sure you can relate to the idea of a soundtrack for your life.
Hard to Replace an Original
One of the worst violations in the music world is when somebody tries to cover a song that plays an important place in the soundtrack of your life. No matter the artists intention and how hard they work, it never seems to live up to the way we heard it way back when.
The Pet Shop Boys have their place in the soundtrack of my life. But when they cover U2’s Where the Streets Have Name, something just sounds off.
Stairway to Heaven
Led Zepplin’s Stairway to Heaven is a classic song. The cover done as part of the Kennedy Center Honors celebrating the work of the band was amazing, yet it does not take me back to the time I first heard it.
One Sunday evening in the late 1990’s I was sitting in a pew at Memorial Baptist Church in Cortland, NY. We had special music that night. A local musician was there to share his gift. He played the glasses. If you are unfamiliar with how this works, it looks something like this:
Our special guest was amazing. He played a number of different contemporary songs. It was spellbinding. At one point, he asked if there were any requests. Esther [picture your quintessential church grandmother] piped up, “Do you know any hymns?” A little flustered, our musician friend said I am sorry, I do not. A few minutes later, he offered, “I do know this one spiritual song,” and started playing. It only took a few seconds, and I immediately knew what it was. Stairway to Heaven, he was playing Stairway to Heaven! Turning around to one of the younger people in the congregation for confirmation, we could hardly contain ourselves. When the song was over, Esther volunteered, “I am not familiar with that one.” I just about fell out.
Songs of Surrender
A while back, U2 released their new album, Songs of Surrender. Their music plays a huge part in the soundtrack of my life. Covers of their music often leave me disappointed.
This album is filled with their classic songs, none of which sounds like the original song.
What has surprised me is that I am okay with it. Far from simply being okay, I am loving it.
This is the music of men who have lived life, experiencing joy and pain, hardship and success. The music is simple and sharp. The lyrics (some of which are changed) speak to the depth of the human experience.
In each song, you hear a searching and longing. A searching that led them to cry out I still have not found what I am looking for so many decades ago. Spiritual mystics that have shared their gift to craft a piece of the soundtrack of my life.
If you have not checked it out, it is worth a listen, even if you normally can’t stand remakes.