Saturday, June 30, 2007

Music Hath Charms...

It was October or November of 1965 and I’d just turned 16 the first time I heard Sounds of Silence. I was lying in bed, in the dark, in my little town (sorry, couldn’t resist) in Minnesota, listening to a Chicago rock station on a tinny radio as I fell asleep. That night, for the first time, I heard a vocal version of Sounds of Silence. An acoustic version had previously been released as one of the songs on Simon & Garfunkel’s first album (Wednesday Morning, 3AM). A few months after I first heard it, Sounds of Silence would become the title of Simon & Garfunkel’s second album, and then, a little over a year after that, the theme song of Mike Nichol’s definitive 60's movie, The Graduate. But that night, before all that had happened, I found myself blown away (and brought wide awake) by the aching, lonely beauty of that song, both the tune and the lyrics.

And that was just the beginning. Paul Simon has been writing incredible songs for over 40 years, and this evening, I’ve been listening to and watching the Library of Congress 1st Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, celebrating Paul Simon, on PBS. It’s a terrific concert, filled with wonderful musicians - James Taylor, Lyle Lovett, Alison Krauss, Buckwheat Zydeco, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, to name a few...each doing their own renditions of some of Paul Simon’s myriad, genius, songs.

Watching the various musicians, singing and playing instruments with their eyes shut...I am struck by how music manages to pull most of us “into the groove”. I neither play an instrument nor sing...well, that’s a lie, I DO sing (and this, in spite of the fact that no one seems to want me to!)...but despite these shortcomings, I dunno, maybe I have an ear, because music has always been able to pull me into the groove, and it’s not just one kind of music that has this power over me...bluegrass, folk, rock, classical, opera, jazz, even some rap...it truly hath charms to soothe the savage breast, to soften rocks or bend a knotted oak, as William Congreve so eloquently wrote (and he did write breast, not beast, and he wrote it in The Mourning Bride)...

13 comments:

Jan said...

It was nice to think of when I first heard "Sounds of Silence"--perfect song for the angst of adolescence while I was in a small town in Washington--something to do with the north?? Music can zap us back to moments we thought we'd forgotten. Thanks, Judi.

Cynthia said...

Music really does pull us into a groove. I can't really play an instrument any longer, and as for singing, well, I was kicked out of church choir when I was eight, and it wasn't for misbehaving. But my lack of talent to produce music hasn't stopped it from holding sway in my life. Great entry.

Tammy said...

Music sucks me in too, all kinds. Paul Simon's African album(?)was played at my mom's (Judy) funeral. She was going on her first safari before she died and played it over and over. I feel sad when I hear it.

XXOO

dreaminglily said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eZGWQauQOAQ&mode=related&search=

Thought you might like watching that then :o)

Music is so deeply spiritual. Not many people understand how we're forever marked by the songs we hear. They mark a place in time, a moment, a year, an event that we'll never forget.

By the way, this is one of my favorite songs lol

~Lily

alphawoman said...

I listened to the same Chicago radio station in small town KY!! Lying in bed with the AM radio, trying to hear the songs as the air waves "bounced" the music in and faded out. The one song that sticks with me is "Turn Turn Turn", they never played that stuff locally. I beleve music is the common denominator.

Diane said...

I remember when I first heard Sounds of Silence as well...and also as a kid listening to Chicago radio stations late at night from the upstairs of my grandparents in small town Minnesota (late at night was the only time we could get those station).

It's funny that music provide both background and theme for so much of our life.

I'm a big Paul Simon fan too.

Carol Gee said...

I don't apologize for being old-fashioned in my Paul Simon fanship. Comparing his artistry with what passes for current music keeps me back there. Thanks for the enjoyable post.

Erin said...

What a great memory! Thank you for sharing!

Memphis Steve said...

I remember a long time ago, lying in bed listening to an antique AM radio in North Alabama, with the sound turned down low picking up my favorite station in Louisville, Kentucky. It sometime around midnight. I couldn't sleep. In fact, I could never sleep back then. Something about the airwaves connecting me to a radio drama so far away while everyone around me was asleep felt like a kind of magic. It was my escape from hell for 15 minutes every night.

I don't know why you talking about Simon and Garfunkel reminded me of that, but I'll probably go to sleep listening to their Greatest Hits CD turned down low tonight.

poody said...

Was the radio station WLS? I used to listen to it late at night. We could only get it then never in the daytime! I hear ya with the music thing. My whole life and memories are wrapped around a song. I am fortunate to live in a town that supports live music. It is truly my favorite thing in the world. And I too love all forms. I was saddened to hear about Beverly Sills passing.

Chris said...

I totally thought about you on our camping trip in Cades Cove last weekend! We were driving up the dirt road to Primative Baptist Church to view the cemetary and I heard bagpipes! I told Alexis "I think someone's having a wedding!"

Sure enough, they were. I didn't even know you could do that in a national forest preserve.

emmapeelDallas said...

Wow, music really is the common denominator for all of us. Thanks, everybody, for great comments.

Poody, yes, the station was WLS, and it came in best late at night. I was sad to hear about Beverly Sills passing, too. I was a great fan of hers.

Lisa :-] said...

I listened to WLS as a kid, too...but not just at night. We lived in the Chicago area, so we got it all day every day...

To me, music is one conclusive proof of a "higher power." It truly is transcendent... Takes me to somewhere completely other than the earthly plane.