Music, I told many of my students, is the most powerful force in this world next to love. To offer music, whether it’s a Clint Black cover in a bar or one voice of many in a church choir, playing a simple song to honor one passed or being part of a soundtrack to another’s life in the moment, this goes very deep and its ripples go very far. Even the simple act of passing along an album to another can literally better a life. It’s not some inert object you’re passing along - it’s a force.
Before we get to that though, Memorial Day weekend is here and I want to take a moment to offer humble gratitude for the sacrifices we honor on it – those of the brave who gave all. I’d also like to acknowledge and offer respect to the ripples of those sacrifices - the losses to their families, their children, their friends and colleagues – and further extend this to thank all veterans passed, past, and present, for your service. I may be the exception in that I don’t turn all of this into a circus of commerce and sales – that’s not how I honor, that’s not what this means to me. I’ll be happy to sell you something and if you served I’ll probably extend YOU an extra courtesy savings of some kind. And, of course, my gratitude. But the rest of you? Respectfully, spend this weekend with your families, with your children; with friends and colleagues; with veterans. With the lonely and the sad. Not in line at some big store for something shiny because it’s another 10% off. Go spend your selves – go spend your time – go enjoy your freedom. Be safe, brothers and sisters.
This week we were gifted a collection of CDs from dear friends downsizing into a simpler, smaller, later chapter. There come times of letting go – of situations, of friends close, of stuff, as we resize our chapters. These are all things we all have in common, just like music. Through these all it is there for us and part of the soundtrack to our very existence; its joys, its sorrows, its changes, and those strange moments where they all meet as LIFE changes. For some there are “Living estate sales” and yard sales, for others there are gifts outward in all direction – deliberate placements re-homing things that have been important to them into the hands of others who have been important to them. All we have will go somewhere; we either decide that while we can, or leave it to others to decide. Either way it is a great honor to receive music.
Among many cool things sent to Birdsong headquarters over the years was a box of reggae CDs for Maggie. Years back I wrote in the Friday update about how our Blue Heeler just chills out to reggae, and we leave it on for her when we leave the house. This client saw that and (to get all Shakesperean on you) “Lo! There cometh to the shop a boxeth of oom-CHAKA-oom-CHAKA-ness to filleth thyne soul with levity!” Those CDs are still rotated into the workshop player and I’ve built many many basses to them. And Maggie still loves reggae, but she’s into mellow jazz these days too.
If you are in my life and I’ve given you Miles Davis Kind of Blue, that is the “give” equivalent of having your name tattooed on my heart. Whatever your position in my life, that is a love I cannot express any other way but to spill that music into yours from mine. It has been gifted to the living, and it has been provided for the dying to pass to. I can’t think of anything more heavy in my world to share when only what’s on that album will convey it. I’ve been through more copies of it than I have Walden’s Thoureau, for similar reasons, and for that I consider myself blessed.
When you sell a batch of used CDs, don’t you feel cheapened? I do. Not only because of how little you get, but also… here was this stack of parts of my life, and now it’s a $20 bill. Even that much in pizza and beer won’t even that out. No, when it’s time to move on from some music – for whatever reason – give it away. Then it becomes ripples! Direct, deliberate ripples. Find someone you KNOW will enjoy some (and will find homes for the rest) and GIVE it. Give it like blood. Give it like breath. Give it like it means more than money. Give it like love.