Monday, March 22, 2010


I have a pretty vast music collection. There’s not that much that I don’t listen to. I guess as I get older, I’m showing some of my preferences. I’ve been a big Dylan fan for a while, enough to have one of his songs sung at my wedding and to name my firstborn after him. Also been a fan of Miles Davis, though I am not impressed with his misogynistic ways, he played a mean trumpet and could always do a lot with just a few notes.

One of the sections of my collection that is always growing is my soundtrack collection. I would have to say that my two favorite soundtrack composers are John Williams and Danny Elfman. Both are unique in their styles and are probably fairly opposite of one another. John Williams writes sweeping orchestral scores while Danny Elfman is a former progressive 80s rock band frontman (he used to sing lead vocals for Oingo Boingo, you know, “It’s a dead man’s party….”).

The thing about movie soundtracks is that, for anyone who pays attention, the good ones can take you right back to that movie. Who hasn’t looked for a whip and a fedora after hearing the Raiders March from Raiders of the Lost Ark? Who doesn’t start doing their best Darth Vader impression when they heard the Imperial March from Star Wars? Who doesn’t say, “E.T. phone home” after hearing that movie’s theme song? Maybe I’m the weird one, but I do it all the time.

Dick Clark said, “Music is the soundtrack of your life.” I would have to agree. I legitimately think that it’s possible to choose the wrong song for a moment. As a melancholic, one who is easily drawn into the emotion of the moment, I have to be pretty careful about what I listen to and when. For instance, in self-preservationist fashion, I load my CD player for my weekly drives to northern Virginia strategically so as to have all of the rockin’ fast music come while I am on my way home at 10PM at night. There’s less chance of me falling asleep. Also, when I am driving to church on Sunday mornings, preparing to lead people in worship, you’re probably not going to find Ozzy Osbourne in my CD player. To be honest, silence works well during those moments.

But I echo Dick Clark’s statement because I have seen how true it is in my life. I can remember the song that my wife and I danced to for our first dance at our wedding. I can remember the songs that we had sung at our wedding. I can remember songs that were meaningful when I was in high school, ones that were “my song” with girls that I dated back then. I can remember songs that have been sung at funerals or other occasions that have stirred my heart. Music has the ability to sweep me away from the moment that I am in to a moment that I experienced once upon a time.

To be honest, I have to be careful too, with my tendency to be driven into a state of melancholy, that I don’t listen to certain music during certain periods of my life. It’s just not a good idea. It’s sort of like those two guys in City Slickers who make ice cream (a play on Ben and Jerry). The one can pick the perfect flavor for whatever kind of food someone might suggest. They test him on it and he proves himself with flying colors. Now, I’m not saying that I can pick the perfect song for any occasion, but I definitely know when songs fit and when they don’t. In some ways, I’m constructing the soundtrack of my life.

To some people, music is background noise. Others need complete silence to hear every note in order that they don’t miss something. Regardless of how you listen to music, it probably has a greater impact on you than you really knew. Not all music is good to listen to all the time.

As you walk through life, making memories, take note of the kind of music that you hear. Is it happy? Is it sad? Is it majestic and sweeping? Does it make you want to dance? If not, what can you do to change the soundtrack? What can you do to make sure that the music matches the moment as completely as possible? What kind of music are you making with your life?

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