Music, The Fabric of My Life - 1010 Park Place
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Music, The Fabric of My Life

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Twinkle, twinkle, little star. I sit on the floor, my tiny fingers plinking out notes on a plastic toy piano. Its tinny sound evokes thoughts of carnivals and calliopes, clowns and cotton candy. I can’t remember a time when music didn’t fill me with rhythm and wonder.

Music is like air and water, the most basic life-giving force. It’s my personal time machine that transports me back to forgotten memories. I climb inside…

My father’s playing the blues on his saxophone. I’m only five, but I know the music of John Coltrane, Charlie Parker and Dave Brubeck. My father’s eyes are closed, and he’s lost in his music; removed from the pressures of my mother, a mortgage and snow in the driveway that needs shoveling.

My musical time machine moves forward. I’ve abandoned my classical piano lessons and lost my heart to rock n’ roll. The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and The Band… They changed my life. My mother throws away their albums, but I buy another and another.

Ten years later Stevie and I are singing Carol King in our hotel room. But will you love me tomorrow? Just as the desert sun rises over the Vegas strip, room service delivers pancakes and juice. We decide there ought to be a law: You can’t see Las Vegas in the daylight. The boy sets the breakfast tray on the table, and we tip him with our best Mick Jagger imitation, pursing our lips and strutting our stuff to Honky Tonk Women. Yeah… Gimme the honky tonk blues.

We dress and go downstairs, winding our way through a maze of gaudy and garish lobbies where bored housewives pull one-armed bandits, hoping to win the big one or fall in love for the night. Memories to see them through a long winter of distant husbands, homemade Halloween costumes and Christmas with the in-laws.

Past the All You Can Eat Buffet, there’s a hooker singing off key in the Elvis Presley Wedding Chapel. Love Me Tender, Love Me True… She tells us her friend, Johnnie Girl, just married a trick from Duluth. Her blue mascara has settled in a smudge under her eyes all hard and jaded like. A sad little woman child who’s lost her way only she doesn’t know it yet.

Years later my musical time machine sets me on the steps of a black church. The congregation is clapping and throwing their heads back in jubilation. When Jesus Washed… My friend and I slide into the pew at the back of the church where his mother plays the organ. I imagine what they’re thinking: White folks don’t know gospel, don’t feel it oozing from the bottom of their feet, running into the dirt as it nourishes the earth and all God’s children. I smile and pay them no never mind and sing l’ll fly away.

In a little while my friend leans over and asks, “You ready to go yet, girl?”

I shake my head no. I’m the only white woman there, but I won’t embarrass him by swaying down the aisle behind the woman in the lavender dress.

“You ready yet, girl?”

This time he’s the only brother in a country dance hall. I’ve waited 20 years to hear Willie Nelson, and now I’m close enough to reach out and touch him. I look at Willie’s braids—bound by strips of red, white and blue cloth—and wonder if he smoked some good weed before he came onstage? The lady next to us is giving my friend the eye. Her hair is the same size as her posterior, and she asks him to two-step to Red-Headed Stranger.

“Girl,” he says, kind of panicky. “Can we go now?”

The chords of my life are harmonious, yet dissimilar, cast like meteor showers from the Pleiades. The clouds are pulsating in the moonlight. I hear the Indian drums of Robbie Robertson’s Broken Arrow; the spirit of the Crow and the Cherokee, the Comanche and the Choctaw. I lean against the rock wall as the long shadows of the Madrone tree etches its way across my body. My arms beckon my lover toward me. There he goes, turning my whole world around.

Love, Brenda

18 Comments

  • Molly Stevens October 15, 2016 at 9:37 am

    What a lovely trip down memory lane using music as the stepping stones. Loved this. Excellent writing, Brenda. You transported me, as I went flitting from one memory to another.

    • 1010ParkPlace October 16, 2016 at 8:23 pm

      Thank you, Molly! I appreciate your kind words.

  • Lois Alter Mark October 15, 2016 at 9:46 am

    I am so with you, Brenda. Music is a huge part of my life.

    • 1010ParkPlace.com October 16, 2016 at 8:25 pm

      Music fills my soul. I can’t imagine a world without it.

  • Roz Warren October 15, 2016 at 9:51 am

    Evocative.

  • Claudia Schmidt October 15, 2016 at 4:21 pm

    Music has also always been a very important part of my life, Brenda. Love this post and all the memories it brings, seems we have very similar taste in music. Best, Claudia

    • 1010ParkPlace October 16, 2016 at 8:27 pm

      Hi Claudia,
      I just left a message on your blog about Bob Dylan!
      xoxox,
      Brenda

  • Lori Wight October 15, 2016 at 9:56 pm

    I got lost in the music Brenda.Wonderful
    Don’t die with all your music still inside. Lori

    • 1010ParkPlace October 16, 2016 at 8:28 pm

      Thanks, Lori. BTW, I’m not planning on dying anytime soon.

  • Lorna Wight October 15, 2016 at 10:41 pm

    Music,what would life be like without it.

    • 1010ParkPlace October 16, 2016 at 8:29 pm

      I feel the same way! Do you use the App Shazam? I’m always hearing a piece of music I don’t know and hit the button on Shazam to learn the name and the artist. So many I add to my playlist. Thanks, Lorna. Brenda

  • Elaine October 16, 2016 at 7:01 am

    Great piece! We love music too and so enjoyed our many road trips this summer with my husband’s perfectly curated selection from our favorite artists. It’s amazing to me that we can travel with thousands of songs on a USB stick that plugs into the car!

    • 1010ParkPlace October 16, 2016 at 8:36 pm

      Hi Elaine,
      LOL! So right about the USB stick. In my 20’s, I used to lug around my pink plastic boombox when we traveled along with tape cassettes and extra batteries. In addition to me and my first husband, we usually had two friends, both male, who came on our archeological expeditions. They would put up a fierce protest if I played Gene Pitney. I loved him since I was a kid. I’m surprised they didn’t throw that cassette out the window.
      xoxox, Brenda

  • Joyce Brewer October 16, 2016 at 12:47 pm

    I feel like my childhood soundtrack is filled with country music. My Father listened to Willie Nelson, Charlie Pride and the Mandrell sister. Every weekend we watched Hee Haw on TV. I loved it.

  • 1010ParkPlace October 16, 2016 at 8:37 pm

    Joyce, Charlie Pride and the Mandrell sisters… Those are names I haven’t heard in awhile. They were great. Thanks for stopping by, Joyce!

  • Jen October 20, 2016 at 8:08 am

    Oh, I love this piece so much, Brenda. You’ve made it all come alive. I love music too. And I don’t trust people who don’t. It’s life-giving. xoxo

  • Esther Zimmer October 26, 2016 at 10:19 am

    This is so beautiful, Brenda. It made me feel quite emotional, I love music too and the way you’ve written about it will stay with me for a long time, thank you! (And sorry I’m a bit late commenting on this one, I’ve been a bit absent). Essie xx

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