You trust, you must confess. Is someone getting the best, the best, the best, the best of you?
A thoughtful string of words written by one of my favorite bands, the Foo Fighters, sang boldly at the Super Bowl in Miami, 2007. Sang with gusto and grit, incendiary energy, and another moment which proved this man from Minneapolis was iconic. Words sang as though they were his truth, as though this song was his story, sang amid a steady rain tinted in an electric hue of purple.
Truly, I do not think it redundant nor cliche to remind the world (or just 4 FB friends), just how much music means to me. Music gives my life the ability to flow. A song is a memory, a concert is a life event, great singers and songwriters are artists who I admire due to their ability to transcend dimensions and reach anyone willing to listen. No matter what the situation, time of day, people I’m surrounded by, setting of the stories within my life, there’s always a song that fits. Music is my greatest friend, ally, and a tangible way to express feelings all rolled into one. Music just gets me and I it.
Skip ahead to the 0:50 mark if you do not care to watch Ryan Reynolds open a letter and get a coffee, and this basically sums up every morning of my life (or don’t skip any bit of this since Ryan Reynolds is a dream boat). Everyday People
Like Ryan Reynolds in the chick flick, Definitely, Maybe, I try to find the best song to start my day. Honestly, I’ve always thought Sly and the Family Stone was a remarkable choice as a “Hello World! I feel great! You better get out of my way!”, type song.
Lately, Adam has been regrouping with his band and on occasion, he and I have what resembles sing-a-longs at home. Usually it’s with songs his band is practicing (90’s alt-rock mostly), and songs that we just love to sing. Most recently, Adam has been trying to give me singing tips. I have zero dreams of fame on The Voice nor do I want to be a local karaoke legend, however, when I do sing, I think I try my best and want to be alright at it (I’ve actually always wanted to be a backup singer for Bob Segar… Night Moves!). There are a few silly tricks he’s taught me about annunciation and ways to sing songs I already know in order to strengthen vocal cords, air capacity, and assist in tone control. Last weekend, he was telling me one of the easiest ways to build voice ability is to just sing as loud as possible. When just driving to /from work, alone, and a song I know well comes on, to just belt it out as though it’ll be the last thing I’ll ever say. This past Monday morning I did just that. Little Red Corvette came on 80’s on 8. It was an awfully fun way to start that day’s soundtrack.
As most memories of being a kid slowly become blurs of sights and sounds, my memories of Prince during my youth are essentially basic. From knowing he provided the song for the NHL to use during the playoffs one year in the 90’s (Go Crazy… The NHL’s slogan was Cup Crazy?), seeing the video for that Batman song , knowing as a kid that he is not the same as Michael Jackson, never quite knowing if Purple Rain was a good movie or not, and hearing Party Like It’s 1999 on a loop at every festive gathering happening in 1999, Prince was a major piece to my soundtrack growing up.
One very clear and specific memory I have is from 1988. I was 4 years old. It was summer and probably near 80* outside. I had just finished crying over a box of crayons which had melted all over my red and yellow Little Tykes, plastic picnic table (I left them out while I ate lunch. Had you known my Nunu’s mac n’ cheese, you would have done the same). To help poor, sad, and at this point, overheated me, I was given a Popsicle and allowed eat it outdoors. That is when I decided to see what my Aunt Vicky was up to. At the time, she was living at home and had just become a hair dresser. She ran her business down in Nunu’s basement. While in between customers at the very moment I had a literal meltdown, she decided then was as good of a time as any to wash her car. She turned on some local Detroit Top 40 radio station and I sat on the step that led into the house from the garage. I want to so desperately say I remember what kind of car it was, but cannot. I can’t even recall the color, (I’m guessing white? Or maybe red? Probably black..). A detail that’s never left me is that Raspberry Beret had just started entertaining us from her car radio. And I deeply recall this whole day because of this one instance. My Aunt said, “Whatcha doin’ there, Erika? Eating a raspberry Popsicle? This song is about raspberries too, but about a hat”. And she laughed and smiled at me, and that was it. Roots established. I smiled and caught a drip of raspberry juice with my finger. In that moment, Prince being featured in my life’s soundtrack began. I instantly loved him.
I think if I made a real attempt, I could write something like the following, but since Kate Hudson did it so well and in a way I wish I’d done, I’ll just leave it as is:
Another point in time Prince added to my soundtrack was a few summers back. We were having a family weekend at my Aunt Cheri’s lake house. It was late into the night and the few of us who were many deep in beers and other concoctions decided 1 A.M. was the best time to go on a voyage throughout the chain of lakes that make up Canadian Lakes. A dear man, and now family friend, Jack, joined us. He had just beaten a hellish bout with cancer. Feeling victorious and full of life and time, Jack was the most obvious choice as lead guitarist on the ladder guitar. With cans of beer waving in hands, arms around each other, and in unison singing all the “ohhhh ohhh ohh oh’s” at the end of Purple Rain, we applauded Jack during the guitar solo and in true rock star fashion, he tossed the ladder overboard, letting it fall into the depths of the lake. At the time, we thought it was totally bad ass and all cheered. Come morning when my cousin’s donned scuba gear to search for the ladder, it didn’t seem so great. But regardless, that song became a defining point in our family and each time I hear it, even after hearing it in person, I think back on that night on the lake, with family all around and a sky full of stars over head, and I smile. Seeing Jack hold that ladder over his head and playing air guitar with that ladder… having a boat jam session on a night in August with family who live across the country, well, that’s something! A sign of hope and life and pure joy. A true example of how music impacts all that we do.
Last year, when he announced he was coming to Detroit, Adam and I had decided there was no price limit. I will forever be thankful we were fortunate enough to see him in concert and I don’t think that kind of energy in the Fox will exist anywhere else within my life. And I’m completely okay with that.
Over the next few days, I’m sure there will be a Prince song on everywhere you go. Just as with David Bowie earlier this year, Prince was a living legend and will be praised, memorialized, and be the subject of dedications by many for quite some time. And just as David Bowie, once the hype dwindles, Prince will be just another great name of our lifetime. We keep spinning along with the world and we remember that life carries on, but the music will still be there, just as any true friend would be. Sometimes, we may even live for those moments when a song brings up a memory, a feeling, a time and place we wish we could go back to. And Prince provided that portal for many. Allow the music to take over and give into the ventures of your being. At the very least, take a moment to pause and just listen to the music.
What musicians or songs make up the soundtrack of your life?