Thursday, August 16, 2012

Messages of Music

Music has the capacity
to communicate on many levels.

If I have one regret in life it’s never having made the effort to become proficient with a musical instrument. I played drums in the high school marching and concert bands, and was in a little rock  band for awhile, but never devoted the time to advance beyond basic rudiments. As a consequence, the only drumming I do these days is on my car's steering wheel.

Nonetheless, music has always been important to me. I find it impossible to imagine a world without it. A couple of years ago our city gained a new radio station that calls itself “hippie radio,” and it constantly carries me down memory lane. I was never a true hippie, apart from the longish hair, paisley shirts and bellbottoms of the ‘60s, but loved the music. So every time I hear a tune by Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, The Doors, the Beatles or Cream (most of whom, sadly, are no longer with us) I’m transported to another time.

When I hear “Good Vibrations,” I think of a Beach Boys concert I attended in Houston where I concluded, “Wow, their harmony isn’t as good live.” Blood Sweat & Tears’ “You Made Me So Very Happy” reminds me of dancing with a lovely young lady in college and thinking, “Maybe this is what love is like.”

“Wipeout” reminds me of days I still envisioned myself becoming an accomplished drummer. It, along with “Surf City,” also conjures images of surfboards, baggy swimsuits, dark tans and sun-bleached hair. (I only tried to surf once, and wasn’t good at it, but the idea was fun.)

But it’s not just the “golden oldies” of the ‘60s and early ‘70s. I enjoy music of favorite TV shows. “Hawaii 5-0” has been recreated, keeping its original theme song, and the M*A*S*H theme song always reminds me of Hawkeye, Col. Potter, Corporal Klinger and “Hot Lips” Hoolihan. Movie soundtracks of classic films like “The Sound of Music,” “Gone With the Wind,” “Chariots of Fire,” “West Side Story,” “Rocky” and “Saturday Night Fever” also stir old emotions.

Music has spiritual connotations for me as well. During the holiday season, I can’t hear “Silent Night” without recalling Christmas Eve worship services as a boy, when it was sung bilingually in the Hungarian-American church we attended. Michael W. Smith’s “Friends” reminds me of attending the singer’s concert just days after a good friend had passed away after suffering from a rare disease.

“Great Is Thy Faithfulness” never ceases to reassure me even though I’m often not faithful, God always is. And I’ll never stop marveling at the inner strength of Horatio G. Spafford, who wrote “It Is Well with My Soul” in 1873, just days after losing his four daughters when the French steamer they and their mother were traveling on from America to Europe collided with a British vessel and sank.

Colossians 3:16 affirms the importance of music for growing in faith: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.”

The Psalms, in fact, are a collection of songs from ancient Israel, heartfelt and honest in their lyrics. I’ve always been thankful for Psalm 100:1, which in one translation tells us to “Make a joyful noise….” That’s about the best I can do. God apparently not only decided I shouldn’t be a musician, but also not a singer.

But I am a good listener!

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