I had best hits of the 80s playing when I drew this (“I was dreaming when i wrote this…”) so I was singing hard in my studio… and I pray everyone else in adjoining studios was okay with that! But I know the lyrics to hundreds of 80s songs… embedded in my core memory forever. Not useless data. Valuable data. Shared experience data. You know old folks homes for Gen Xers are gonna be filled with the best music. Nobody will come in there on weekends to play “a bicycle built for two”–they’ll bring in a cover band and play Journey, “Someday love will find you, BREAK those chains that BIND you!” And all us old Xers will be rockin’ out and singing along.
Do you sing in the bedroom? If you have a partner, do they sing in the bedroom? Do you sing together in the bedroom sometimes? (I count the shower as the bedroom in some houses!) Then do you bust up laughing because it’s so wonderful and funny? 70’s-80s songs, Broadway, Disney and church hymns…. that’s my on-call repertoire. Some Irish ballads… folk songs… and okay, Dan Fogelberg and the Beatles can be pulled up when necessary. Currently, songs from Nathaniel Rateliff, Rag & Bone Man, Taylor Swift, and Adele run through my head–because they got me through the pandemic by dropping albums into our difficult times like rocks into a still lake. (And now—Sam Smith and Kim Petras’ “Unholy” is so damn catchy, I’ve been playing that over and over while I work on the big King O the Cats painting) Anyway! When I have had someone who likes to sing, it’s fun to sing with them. (Some cute guy I know enjoys singing in the car! And it’s nice to blend with him down the curvy road.)
Where do songs come from inside us? Are they stored with feelings? I don’t think they are in a bin called “music” in our brain because if someone asked me what I know by heart I couldn’t tell you… that file is empty… but let me have a feeling, and wow, I get songs with lyrics that match that feeling flood my brain. If I hear three notes outside from a windchime–I can sing a whole song in full. Or turn on the car radio and all my notes are there.
There are songs appropriate for every feeling we’ve felt and I thank musicians for cataloguing those experiences and feelings so well. When I have to clean, I turn on the music to get me happy enough not to mind the cleaning. When I am sad, I turn on music to purge the sadness, to reflect in it, to bleed it out. Music puts us on a collective train of a feeling–and the lyrics and our lives merge in the windows of the shared landscape passing by. By the end of the song, we know the singer has “felt” our experience, and we theirs, our shared music of the moment
In the bedroom, we have a chance for many duets. Yeah, our voices aren’t perfect all the time. (But I bet opera baritone Bryn Terfel’s morning voice can be froggy hilarious too!) But I love my partner’s voice. I love singing with him. I love laughing about how we know all the lyrics, or- or- or- or… stay with me… how I memorized the lyrics ALL wrong… and those can be really funny too. Music allows us to share feelings– in a way like no other. We are full-throated blasting the Joy of our “Summer of 69” or we are harmonizing and synching in the sadness of our “Mercy Street” together. It puts us, for a moment, on the same page as our partner. And they know, even when they can’t express their feelings in words yet, that yeah, we “feel” their music too.