We all have a soundtrack to our lives even if we’ve never thought about it. A particular song can bring you immediately back to a certain time in your life. Sometimes it’s just a memory or it may be that the words of a song remind you of something or someone. Music has always played a huge part in my life. I can’t ever imagine life without music. It can inspire so many emotions. It can soothe the soul, it can stir up passions, it can inspire us, it can depress us, it can bore us, it can make us angry, it can make us smile wistfully or outright laugh with a reminder of a humorous moment in our past. Whatever emotions it inspires, it makes us feel something and that’s a good thing.
When I first got married, I was working as a recreation officer in a nursing home. So many of the residents got up in the morning, were fed and placed in the sunroom, with a television turned on, waiting for lunch, then waiting for dinner then off to bed. Some never had visitors and they really just sat waiting to die. I tried all sorts of activities with them and they just didn’t want to do anything. They were tired. Life tired. There was one particular old lady there, Phoebe, who never spoke but often screamed and acted up. She was particularly hard to deal with, especially as a 21 year old.
One day, I thought I’d make it easy on myself and I brought in my record player and some records I thought they might identify with, as much for myself, if I’m honest, as for them. I have a large collection of music from all eras, all genres (well nearly all) and from across a wide range of countries.The first one I decided to play was my Foster & Allen album “Maggie”. I put the needle on to the start of the record and closed my eyes for a brief second to soak up the sound as I just loved that particular song. A few moments into the song, I heard noises. Humming noises. A few of them had started to hum along to it. Then they started to sing. I was standing next to the ever mute Phoebe and got a fright when she suddenly gripped my young, soft hand tightly in her old, bony, worn out one. I remember the feeling as she gripped my hand so tightly and I remember feeling the contrast of our skins. She looked at me and said.. “this is my song”.. My daddy sang it to me. She held my hand throughout the whole song, eyes full of tears as she told me all about her father. As soon as the song finished, so did her lucidity. The light went back out of her eyes and she fell silent again. But the rest of the room came alive. Talking about their past and where they used to go and what they used to do. As the album continued, the mood in the room kept getting brighter and brighter. When the album finished I changed it to hits of the war years and watched in amazement as bright, young eyes looked at me out of old, worn faces.
I never forgot those transformations. I never forgot Phoebe’s moment of “being present” or the look in her shiny, tear filled eyes as she reminisced about her beloved father. Music really does soothe the savage beast. It can unlock the brain if only for a fleeting moment.
Years passed and my own life’s soundtrack kept getting longer. It went from being a double album to a full hard drive. Harper Valley PTA takes me straight back to Norlane where I grew up. It was the first pop song I ever learned. I think I was about 3. When I hear The Battle of Bonnie & Clyde I’m back in a car travelling to Mildura with all of us singing it out loud and driving Dad to distraction. Cockles and Mussells conjured up images of my beloved Gargie and singing it, by myself, in front of the Junior School at Norlane Primary School. The Sounds of Silence is a reminder of my teachers, Mr Constantine and Miss McGraw in Grade 3 and how they used to get me to deliver notes to each other (they ended up being Mr & Mrs Constantine).. Cinderella Rockafella whisks me straight back to the grade 6 concert and I can clearly remember being envious of Margaret’s hotpants. Every time I hear Joe Cocker belt out You are so beautiful, I’m reminded of my first serious boyfriend and a sweet love letter he wrote to me. The soundtrack to Beaches will always remind me of the friendship my friend, Alys and I had. Anything from Janis Ian, Melanie Safka and Carly Simon has me sitting once more in my friend Janine’s caravan. There’s a whole soundtrack from Nookie’s disco with Sandra that I’d rather forget lol.
As each of my babies were born, they were given the first song from their soundtrack. Aimee – A Little Ray of Sunshine, Lachlan – Beautiful Boy & Stuart – Baby Mine. When I first separated, The Greatest Love of All became my anthem and I played it repeatedly. Dan Fogelberg’s Leader of the Band & Lionel Richie’s Three Times a Lady are automatic reminders of Dad & Mum’s funerals respectively. Aimee’s birth song was played at her funeral along with Gina Jeffries, Distant Star & The Fureys, First Leaves of Autumn. For their 21st birthdays, I added another song to the boy’s soundtack from me.. Lachlan’s being Rick Price’s You’re Never Alone and Stuart’s being Carole King’s, Child of Mine. If you have never heard either of those songs, Youtube them. They are amazing.
The music to Les Miserables makes me feel like I could conquer the world, such is the passion it inspires in me. I am Woman is my song when I have to pull myself out of the doldrums. At seventeen is my song when I’m feeling sorry for myself and want to wallow. The list is endless. After Aimee died, i made a double CD of the soundtrack I wanted to give her. I still have it but don’t listen to it often as every song is so emotional. I keep threatening to make the soundtrack of my own life but as yet haven’t done it but I think it’s time I did.
Any music from the 70’s makes me feel like a kid again. Jump in my car, The little white cloud that cried, Sssssingle bed, The theme from Prisoner, Class of 74, I Think I Love You ( I think I love you too David Cassidy), Blue Jeans, My Little Angel, Emmaline, One Tin Soldier, Seasons in the Sun, Blue Bayou, American Pie, Sweet Baby James….. the list is endless and I don’t know that I have enough blank CD’s to fit them all on.. I think I’ll have to acquire a new 3TB hard drive to even start the journey.
Want a really personal present for a close friend but don’t know what to get them? Make them a soundtrack of your friendship. Trust me, it will be loved. I’ve even made a soundtrack when someone left my life. I found every “you dirty, cheating mongrel” song I could find, burned it to a cd and sent it to him. Mmmm. well maybe that’s not the best thing to do and I promise I’ll never do it again. (felt good though lol)
What songs are on your soundtrack? What song inspires you? What song whisks you straight back to the schoolyard? What song makes you feel 15 again? What song reminds you of a special someone and why? Think about making the soundtrack to your life. It is a good indicator of how far you’ve come. It’s an emotional reminder of the people who have made our journey what it’s been. I’d love to hear your soundtrack. Let me know.
Happy Reminiscing…. Livvy 🙂