Monday, October 23, 2006

Life Set to Music...

Much to my amazement, I live in a house where the television is on most of the time, though I have been a “music person" for as long as I can remember. As a young adult, if you had asked me to predict what my daily life would be like at “Forty-something” I would have definitely mentioned music playing when describing the atmosphere of my tidy, well-decorated, home. I guess I was wrong on a few counts! We’re not as tidy as I would have imagined and my decorating is done based on what we can afford, and what we inherit or just stumble across, rather than on some overall vision for our home environment. But, despite budget or time-constraints, having music playing often is something that I should be able to achieve.

Recently, I was listening to a classical music program in my car and I heard a song that made me reflect on a few of the many moments in my life that were set to music. When I was about five years old, a baby sitter played piano and sang “Jeepers Creepers where’d you get those peepers?” providing a flashback to the late 1930's in our late 1960's living room. At about the same age, my cousin and I sang “Jesus Loves Me” in church. Years later, I broke down while singing “Amazing Grace” at my uncle’s funeral with another cousin’s wife.

I saw many chaotic, energy-filled rock concerts with friends during my young adult years. There were moments when I lifted my voice in chorus with other singers in great classical works, and times when I joined the sound of my guitar with other instruments in a rock band with a very “Eighties“ sound. I sang a song that I had written for my husband, then my fiancé, at the piano... just the two of us, lingering in the foyer of the remarkable house my family moved to when I was in college.

As a young mother, I spent hours sitting in the rocking chair singing song after song to a fussy baby, and then singing for a while longer after the baby had fallen to sleep. Over the years, the face of the baby in my arms changed and grew. There were other babies, just as sweet…just as precious. And there was a breathtaking moment when I first heard my oldest child, Senryu, sing in public, her confidence and bold spirit bringing tears to my eyes.

One year when Senryu was very small, I sang "I know Who Holds Tomorrow" in my straight-forward, mid-western accent at my Grandparent's church. At the same service, my Grandfather sang "Uncloudy Day" in his exuberant Mountain Music style while his banjo filled the room with joyful tones. It was heartwarming to hear some of my Grandpa's friends tell him that his granddaughter had inherited his gift for music.

Some songs make us think of a certain summer or a certain someone. This simple song, Music in My Mother’s House, made me think of all the ways that music has connected me with other people. It showed me how vividly music plays through my memories, like the soundtrack of my life. And, it made me wistful for more music in my home.

Music in My Mother’s House

There were wind chimes in the window, bells inside the clock
An organ in the corner, tunes in the music box
We sang while we were cooking, or working in the yard
We sang although our lives were really hard
There was music in my mother's house
There was music all around
There was music in my mother's house
And my heart still feels full with the sound
She taught us all piano, but my sister had the ear
She could play the harmony to any tune she'd hear
Now I don't claim much talent, but I've always loved to play
And I guess I will until my dying day
Those days come back so clearly, although I'm far away
She gave me the kind of gift I love to give away
And when my mother died, and she'd sung her last song
We sat in the living room, singing all night long
Singing la la la, la la
Singing the front porch songs
Singing the old torch songs
Singing the hymns to send her home
words and music by Stuart Stotts - copyright 1985

This song was playing as I pulled up in my driveway. I sat in the car and listened until the last notes faded away, resolving to be more like the mother in the song. I think I have shared my love of music with my children to some degree, but too often this house has been filled with more noise than music. As I write this, my daughter is listening to modern music that we both love. The compromise is that she is watching the music video that goes along with it; I can live with that. I’ll close this now, to go and sing along with Haiku and Amy Lee of Evanescense.

photo by Aisling, October 2006

Note: You can learn more about the composer, Stuart Stotts, by visiting his website at: Some great stuff if you follow the "goodies" link (sheet music, MP3s, etc.)! What a wonderful way to make a living!


switchtech said...

You got me thinking about our abuelo. I found a recording of him singing "Uncloudy Day" and playing guitar. I put it on my web page (and created a Music Folder in the process in Hobbies).


karlanee said...

Thanks for the link to Stuart Scott's site. I'm always looking for sheet music to try!

We are big music lovers as well. Brad says he can name a song for any time or season in our lives. LOL

Aisling said...

Glad to share! I'm interested in the sheet music too. I need to carve out a practicing time in my daily routine. Maybe I should take (piano) lessons again. I do so much better practicing consistently if I have someone to hold me accountable.

Aisling said...

Thanks for sharing the soundfile, big brother. It was really nice to hear him sing again - even if it was accompanied by guitar instead of his banjo! :)

Aisling said...

BTW, Limerick (hubby) says that it was "I'll Fly Away" he sang that day, not "Uncloudy Day." Now I'll have to get out some really old video tapes and see which of us is correct. I heard Grandpa sing both many times... and Red River Valley also... Hmmm... I'm thinking Limerick may be right on this one!

Senryu said...

Actually, my first thought was, "Wasn't it 'I'll Fly Away'...?" as well. Otou-san is probably correct. But, yeah. Still nice to hear him sing again.

And, Kaa-san! You nearly made me cry, talking about...about singing in public, and all the rest! Grah! It should hearten you to know, I'm addicted to the rush now. The stage, the lights, the microphone... I'm beyond redemption. I can't wait until I have access to those things again. I need to sing!!! *angsts* ^^"

Aisling said...


Didn't mean to make you tear up. You inherited that. *grin*

I can't really seperate the music from the memories in my life. More to the point, I wouldn't want to!