I turned 50 a couple of weeks ago. Looking back over my life, there are various common threads that have weaved their way through my days. One of those threads is songs.
A song can touch you in a special way. It can firmly plant it's roots deep into your soul, changing you and stirring you.
As a young boy, I remember country music in the mornings on our kitchen radio, KTTS, with Bill Ring blasting his common reframe, "If you're too busy to go fishing, you're too busy!" I also remember artists such as Loretta Lynn, Donna Fargo, Tammy Wynett, Conway Twitty and Don Anderson. "I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden" welcomed me to a new day, as did "Living on Tulsa Times".
As a young teenager, I remember getting permission to sleep on the living room couch so I could listen to WLS from Chicago on my tiny transister radio (or maybe it was my brothers I had "borrowed"). I recall the radio smelled of burnt rubber and I had to press it hard to my ear so as not to disturb my parents, since there were no bedroom doors. Elton John, Gary Wright and The Eagles sang me to sleep many nights.
I remember my first kiss while dancing to "Three Times a Lady" by the Commodores. Her name was Shannon, and I was 14 and at a Student Council camp in Fulton, Missouri. I loved that it was a six minute song, but think the short kiss occurred at 5:58. Even now when I hear that song the feelings and nerves come rushing back!
The picture above is from the movie "Chariots of Fire." Our high school FCA traveled to Springfield to watch the movie back in the spring of 1982. The theme music, by Vangelis, with it's soaring sythesizer keyboards, touched my heart as much as the star in the movie, Eric Liddell, stirred my conscience by his strong Christian commitment. I'll never forget his words to his sister. "Jenny, God has made me to be a missionary, and I will be one. But He's also made me fast, and when I run, I feel His pleasure." As we went out to the parking lot to get back on the bus we all ran in slow motion, immitating the beautiful soundtrack. It was a glorious night that forever cemeted my young heart to follow Christ no matter what the cost. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CSav51fVlKU).
In 1991 I met a sweet little lady from Cassville. We married in 1992. I bought her a Precious Moments music box as a wedding gift with the song, "You are My Sunshine." It was our song, sung to each other in tender moments to illustrate our deep affection for each other. Twenty-two years later, the song still stirs a deep pool of devotion and love. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zSbkDGayzhw)
My Mom loved the song, "Wild Wood Flower." She talked about it's beauty and simple melody. I could tell by the look in her eyes whenever she heard the song that she was being transported back to days as a child hearing the song on the radio, or years later on television straining to hear while little voices screamed around her. She would often be heard humming the tune while washing dishes in the kitchen.
As Mom lay dying a year ago, my nephew, Travis, who was in Oregon, was learning to play the song for his Mamaw, and hoped to make it to the hospital in time. Knowing that was not going to happen, I found a version from June Carter Cash, one of Mom's favorites, and played it for her. She couldn't talk, but nodded when I asked if she liked it. We hoped the song served as a thread of her life, and comfort for her worn out body. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nbuMYiifQBU)
Mom died a year ago today, May 15, 2013. Wild Wood flower is now one of my favorite songs, because it was hers. I remember after the funeral several of us sat under Mom's large and gorgeous tree between my house and my parents. We sang songs of hope and comfort, concluding with "Sweet Bye and Bye," another of Mom's favorites. I could just picture her sitting in a lawn chair with us, singing quietly but with a satisfied smile on her face.
Songs are a thread to my past. They are a balm to my aching soul. They are markers and reminders of who I am, and what I hold dear. This is why I know my mother sings often now, for joy is her constant companion. This brings great comfort, and great anticipation.
What songs are threads to your soul?