Music and life

Music is the shorthand of emotion. (Leo Tolstoy)

I was driving through the Fair Oaks and California Blvd. intersection yesterday leaving the grocery when a familiar song came on the radio. “Get it Shawty” (I’m such a white girl when I say this out loud) was playing and it immediately moved me to a memory- to the Jay County Fair grounds with my cousins (more specifically my cousin Travis), listening and white-girl dancing to this song in a completely carefree moment.

And the memory of it as I drove home got me thinking about the relationship music has to life. I think we can all recognize ways in which moments, chapters, and phases of our lives are captured and represented through the music that takes us through them. Music is emotion, mood, relationship, experience. And it’s freeing. Music moves us. To emotion and action. To a state of being.

Phases…My childhood soundtrack is defined by 90’s Christian music which is why I continue to love it even now.  Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, Stephen Curtis Chapman, Steve Camp, Carmen, Ray Boltz, 4Him, The Imperials, etc. I know, I know.  A lot of you are probably thinking, “who?” “him?”. But for me, back then, and much to my husband’s dismay, nothing was better.

High School is a bit of a blur. I bounced all over the board. Country, Hip Hop, Rap, Rock. I couldn’t make up my mind as I couldn’t make out who I was half the time. I do, however, recall a “That Thing You Do” CD and a particular green and purple “Shout to the Lord” Hillsongs CD that was the soundtrack to majority of my sophomore year (does anyone remember this?!).

College is when the mix’s began. Lots and lots of mixes. My college soundtrack consisted of mixes heavily influenced by Shane and Shane, Mercy Me, Jason Mraz, the Goo Goo Dolls, and Kelly. Sweet Kelly Clarkson.

But the chapters and the moments are just as important. Chapters…shorter periods of time when music pulls you through.  Like my sister, Hillary’s cancer ordeal (Watermark: The Purest Place). And whenever I hear Matt Wertz, I think of my first year of marriage. And then the moments. The right song, at the right time, with the right people. The tune, lyrics, even the beat can hit you and you’re overwhelmingly affected. It connects to your current emotional state, a relationship, a memory of someone or something.  It’s powerful and it takes you- to tears, laughing, dancing, singing, silence, etc.  It’s incredible.

I have HUNDREDS of specific (music) moments. A “Glory, Glory” moment standing on my chair at Camp Mack. Or “500 Miles” on top of my CAR in the Leo parking lot. “Give Thanks” at my grandpa May’s funeral. “Ancient of Days” with a chorale of people at CDYC. Dancing in the family room at home to “Big Ball Turnin” (Imperials). “Your Love is Extravagent” alone on top of a Colorado mountain. The entire Kelly Clarkson CD throughout almost every powerful moment of my senior year of college. ;) Singing “Hold Onto Every Moment” in the car with the ‘Ritz’ girls during college graduation week. Almost throwing up, but still loving the moment of “Sweet Emotion” on the Aerosmith roller coaster at Disney. And scream-singing “Don’t Look Back in Anger” at the Oasis concert this year- just the experience of being united with such a huge group of people who love the same song. Incredible.



There’s more room to expound to be sure. But I’ll end it here and simply express my thankfulness for the blessing of music and the fact that my life is able to have a soundtrack.



15 thoughts on “Music and life

  1. Amen, What can I say you nailed it. I used to rock out Carmen for sure and can’t even count the moments when music has connected my soul to places so distant and unfamiliar, possibly a place we I long for. Amazing Post!

  2. Hi Holly!

    Wow. I was blown away by your blog. I was thinking the EXACT same thing today…about how powerful music is and the fact that it can take you back to a specific moment in time.

    There are a couple of 70s songs that will take me back to my childhood in Cleveland. It is so strange because I actually *feel* like I’m 6 years old in the backseat of my parent’s car with my mom driving and my grandma (she’s been gone for 12 years now) in the passenger seat. Not sure why that particular memory is so strong but it is and I am thankful.

    Certain 80s songs instantly transport me back to high school…so fun! :)

    Because I have such a strong reaction to music, I play certain cds over and over while on vacation. While in Europe for two weeks, the only cd I played was Collective Soul’s “Afterwords”. Now whenever I play that cd I *feel* like I’m on the train going somewhere fabulous. :)

    Thanks for letting me share my ideas on your post!


  3. I LOVE how it transports you! It helps us hold onto the memories that mean the most to us…Thanks for reading and sharing, Lori! Miss you…

  4. I’m glad you asked! By the way, I can remember where I was when I heard every song I know. And isn’t it slightly incredible how quick a song can change out emotions the second we hear it playing?

    1)Everybody Wants to Rule the World by Tears of Fears- reminds me of my 8th Cedar Point trip. I must have listened to it 20 times on the way there.
    2)Buy You a Drink by T-Pain – Summer of ’07 on the way home from April Deitchi’s lake in Jon Bonomo’s car. GREAT time.
    3) Bartender T-Pain – Driving around in Leo listening to Mike Kinkolph (Operation beat Mike at Monopoly) belt out the words while sitting in the back seat of my car, on a hot summery day.
    4)Ave Maria by David Bisbal – blaring and dancing in the halls right before Spanish class started during passing period. Getting to Señor Cashen’s room early was a treat because of that.
    4) Let Me Hold You by Bow Wow – Heard it ALL the time on the radio when I worked at Preferred Auto.
    5) I Saw the Sign and Don’t Turn Around by Ace of Base – playing ball tag in the early 90’s when I was like 6 with all the neighbor kids
    6) I Swear by All for One – Making snacks with my mom after school in 1st grade
    7) How Great is our God by Chris Tomlin – Raft Trip ’04, singing at campfire. OH man God showed up in people’s lives that night!
    8) You Got it Bad by Usher – In middle school when I had my first slow dance with Reagan O’Neil when I had a huge crush on her. HA!
    9) Bye Bye Bye by N*SYNC – on the way to BSU dancing in my car with Hillary
    10) All Creatures by David Crowder – CDYC ’07, my favorite song that the band played.

    10 out of literally hundreds… thousands? hmm

  5. Hey Holly! Great post! I can understand your sentiments exactly. I have many,many music/memory experiences. My strongest one is listening to Takk by Sigur Ros. I will forever think of seeing all the ship’s lights on the North Sea and the stillness of all the sleeping passengers as I flew to Mumbai. The feeling of excitement/fear/homesickness all in one before I plunged in to a new life. I had no idea what lied ahead at the time, and this song will always remind me of the “butterflies” before every adventure. The proverbial calm before the storm :) Gonna have to go take a listen now…

  6. Wow, Paul, that is awesome! Takk reminds me of getting ready for our (nate and I) wedding…I was going to walk down the isle to Saeglopur…we ended up not having a good enough copy edited to the part we wanted. Wish it could have worked out…And yes, we would LOVE for it to work out to visit you. How long are you there for?

  7. “sit’n in the rain, water on the brain, got a hole in your boat, try’n to stay afloat has left you stranded.” Ah Michael W. Smith. How we loved Go West Young Man far beyond its prime. Ha! It was awesome!
    Another one of my personal favorites went something like this, “One thing I know
    Everybody’s got a seed to sow
    Let your heart of hearts
    Take you down the road
    Everybody’s got a seed to sow.”
    I only have good memories when it comes to thinking of our friendship and the eclectic soundtrack that accompanied us.
    Oh man, i think there was some Deanna Carter in there too. Embarassing or Really awesome, I don’t know?
    P.S. keep posting, I love to read your thoughts on life.

  8. Oh my gosh, Jess! I almost listed that music memory in the post- Michael’s “For You” and “Seed to Sow” in your car at the top of our driveway! SUCH a great memory for me! And yes, there was definitely some Deanna. And that Shout to the Lord CD- Dominican, in our bunk bed room. Amazing.

  9. Holly,

    I read your blog this morning (mom really enjoyed it and wanted me to see it) and it made me think back to those years when you were home and all of the music we listened to. Remember the Carmen concert at the Coliseum and “The Champion”? What about the very beginning of “Greatest Song of All” by PCD where one of them says “love you Jesus…”? and then there is “He Covers Me” by Steve Camp. Remember Henri’s techno music in the DR and the guys doing the “lawn mower” out in the yard after dinner one night?

    Some songs just have a haunting quality to them that bring a flood of memories. Songs like “Ventura Highway”, (I love the opening guitar part), “Sister Golden Hair”, All of Boston’s first album (they were albums then) it’s funny, but Hill actually enjoys “Baby Ima Want You” by Bread. How strange is that?

    Hol, lookin forward to seeing you in a few days. Have fun with Hil this next week.


  10. Dad! How could I forget the Carmen concert at the coliseum? And all these years later and I STILL love that opening spoken line on “Greatest Song of All”. Oh my, and the lawnmower to Henri’s techno music in the Dominican…FOREVER in my memory. :) Thanks for your music and life input, dad…Love you!

  11. EXACTLY WHAT I’VE BEEN THINKING!!! That is why I’ve been reminded to pray for you and the rest of the girls from that great tennis season when our first jumprope song was MaryMary’s Shackles. I added that to my workout playlist. It’s the first song so I always start out with a smile on my face and I pray for you all for the first mile. Thanks for the memories!
    Tons of love and prayers,

  12. haha. glory glory moment on my chair at camp mack. i remember this oh so clearly, and still get excited when i think about.

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