I have a good friend with whom I share music. We have recently discovered that we have the same taste in tunes. It’s exciting- finding a music soulmate. Those are rare finds. Music is one of those things that is very personal. People can get very territorial and protective over their musical likes and dislikes. I’m very open to all kinds of music. If you were to look at my music library you would find anything from Charles Mingus to The Dillards, Sam Cooke to Warren G, Randy Travis to Toots and the Maytals, Rolling Stones AND The Beatles (it is ridiculous to think that one must make a choice)…as I write this I have an earbud full of PM Dawn. I just love music. As long as it makes me feel something, I love it.
As long as anything makes me feel something, I love it.
I look back on my life in songs- I have my own personal soundtrack to pair with my memories. Anything off of Paul Simon’s Graceland makes me think of running around the house (pre-renovation) in my PJ’s with my baby brother, jumping on the couch, bouncing off of pillows, and dancing. Rod Stewart’s Reason To Believe makes me think of waking up prematurely to my father blasting it on the house stereo after he had forgotten other people were around. Tracy Chapman’s Fast Car makes me think of my brother and me laying down in the back of our Ford Aerostar, giggling because we thought she was singing “I had a feeling I could pee some more, pee some more‘. Mary Chapin Carpenter’s I Am A Town makes me think of sitting on the dirt and scratchy grass, watching my Mother sing at Town Day, with the early summer breeze blowing her hair, wishing I could be up there with her.
My Mother and father both are to thank for my love of music. My father is one of music’s greatest admirers. He loves the crack in a Southern woman’s voice, loves a flute in a rock song, loves a drum solo, but can’t tap his toe on the beat or hum a note in key. My Mother is a music collector, her playlist has broken computers. They both are music historians and would quiz my brother and me on long car rides about who sang what song that came on the radio. Some families played Car Bingo- we played Radio Trivia. We always listened to vintage radio- never new. I grew up listening to the songs that my parents grew up listening to.
I am an old soul.
Early this morning, (at 3 a.m. on the dot if you wanna get specific), I woke up with a brain full of things to think about, to talk about, to write about. I came downstairs and took my first sip of coffee and decided to work on my playlist for the next ‘Music Monday’ my new friend and I would be sharing. And I came across my favorite Lyle Lovett song. It isn’t a deep cut. It’s a fairly obvious choice, but it’s a solid one- If I Had a Boat. I grew up listening to this man sing. His voice soothes me. And that song makes me think of happy, happy, summery thoughts.
I remember thinking, how lovely! A pony on a boat! I imagined how the pony would step onto the boat, with her big hooves. I felt for the pony a little bit- she would probably be scared. But I would calm her down because I was good with animals.
Lyle Lovett came to Davidson college when I was about 8 years old. I went along with my Mother after her friend cancelled last minute. She was dressed, ready to go, with an extra ticket in hand. I can imagine, now being a parent myself, how the conversation must have happened between her and my father.
Who’s going to go with me? I have this extra ticket…I can’t just not go. I’m dressed and ready- and excited! You can’t go, you have to stay with the children. But…do you suppose…? No. She’s too young. It’s late. But…could she?
I can remember standing in the hallway of our house, right at the opening of the living room, when I was asked to go. It was late. I was prepared for bed- Material Girl nightgown in place- and then my plans changed. And it was the most exciting thing that had ever happened to me. I remember I wore a denim skirt, pink knit sweatshirt and plastic pink headband- the kind with the teeth that hurt your head. It was an evening I will never forget. We sat fairly close to the stage, it was a small room. My Mother leaned over and whispered in my ear throughout the show, describing to me what was happening when I didn’t get the grown-up jokes. Lyle was funny. I remember thinking he was really silly and funny. I remember liking his hair. It just sort of stood up real high, not stiff or proud, but rather as if it was born that way- playful. Hs hair was playful- it seemed to wink at me as he sang. I remember the suit he wore and how fancy everyone on stage looked. They all wore suits and I was happy that I wore my pink headband. It was the first time I saw an upright bass and thought, several times throughout the concert, how I wanted to climb inside of it to see what the music felt like from within. I remember feeling like a grow-up that night. I remember feeling special and loved and unique that night. It was just me and my Mother- starting this amazing love affair with music that would continue to grow through time.
My Mother and I still share a love for music. Though, we haven’t been musical together for quite some time. I still think of her when I hear certain songs. A Mother and daughter have to work harder at their relationship than a father and daughter do. They have to be specific, they have to put in the effort. If you don’t put in the effort, things become stale and you can quickly loosen the pull of the bond that is one of the strongest ever created. The Mother knows the child the best, they were there from the very beginning- from the very first second or thought. No other being can say that. No other relationship has such a history. A Mother and daughter relationship is complicated- like the pony on the boat. It doesn’t fit easily, doesn’t always make sense- like listening to Abbey Road on shuffle. The pony loses its balance on the boat, but it never steps off. The pony on the boat is a metaphor, I believe, for being the solid foundation- always there, even if things are rocky. I imagine it still as I did as a child- the pony stands for the true loyal companion, always standing by your side, no matter how choppy the water. A Mother is the true loyal companion, they will never stop being a Mother. It is impossible to stop being a Mother.
My Mother is my pony on my boat.
A Mother and daughter relationship is complicated. But it is real. And it is lovely. And if your relationship has a soundtrack, as mine is fortunate enough to have, then you can constantly be reminded of it.