25 December 2009

Songs that save your life

Sometimes it is the smallest things. You're beaten, you're down, you're alone, you don't know where to go or what to do.

Then a door cracks open and out spills just a sliver of light and suddenly you can see and you just KNOW that you can reach over and jerk that sucker open and walk through that doorway, out of the darkness and into a new place, a place that is, at the very least, different from where you are.

I don't know why songs are so often the thing that pops the door open. Something in music connects right up to Control Central right down there in the middle without having to travel through the buzzing wiring in our brains. It just gets in there and does what it does and we end up laughing or sobbing or gasping or standing up and shaking parts that we didn't even know we could shake anymore.

So there I was a while ago, driving around. I lived with someone who hated me and who was perpetually unhappy, both about my existence and about everything else in general. I had felt FAIL for so long that I couldn't even imagine what WIN was anymore.

I was getting on the freeway, heading home, feeling like crap. And then "Jump" by Van Halen came on the classic rock station.

I KNOW. Can anything be more silly or ridiculous? It's not great music. It's not gonna be on anyone's top 100 list. But that day, in that place, it GOT me.

Even though I was hearing it on the radio, the thousand times I had seen the video rushed back to life in my head and I was driving along seeing that nutty video play in my head and singing and laughing.

"Might as well jump." Damn right.

Suddenly I knew to the marrow of my bones that I was going to be ok. No matter how much anyone tried to keep me down, I was going to get up, to jump, and the jump was NOT going to be off a building.

I was going to leap through life with goofy, goony joy, the same kind of crazy life force that caused Diamond Dave to put on that wack red net corset-y outfit and parade around the stage like a low-rent Mick Jagger with bigass hair, the same joy that kept Eddie smiling his little elf smile while wearing possibly the most unattractive yellow tiger-striped jacket ever made.

"Might as well jump." From then on, when I was getting looked down upon, I had that song in my head and Eddie's sweet smile in my heart. On the outside, I put on my best blasé face and went through the motions and did what I had to do so I could put my escape plan into motion. But inside, I knew who I was. I was someone who could always jump.

I'm so thankful for that song. It gave me something, you know? Tell me about a song that saved you.


Zedral Z said...

Anything by George Harrison is good. "All Things Must Pass" is wonderful. Also, I turn to Frank Zappa occasionally. If I start feeling bad because a guy is being a douche, I listen to "Broken Hearts are for Assholes". I decide that I don't want to be an asshole. *L*

Sandy said...

Red Hot Chili Peppers: 'Bridge'! Empowers me to keep on keeping on every time because 'I don't wanna feel like I felt that day!' Thanks for the good post.

Mary said...

Don't Stop Me Now by Queen.

I blasted it as I drove away from the house I owned with Useless, when I moved out for good. It still gets my blood moving and makes me dance!

Jessica said...

When Dan and I moved to the Cape 18 months ago, things were not going as I had planned/hoped. People were mean. The job was awful (mostly because people were mean). Dan missed his kids terribly. The (older) kids HATED me and were not shy about showing it. I felt like I had made the biggest mistake of my life.

But WE were happy with each other, and in spite of all the crap, we talked about getting married, even though we had only been together a few months. We talked about when, where, with who in attendance. We had no idea what to do.

One day when we were talking about it YET AGAIN, "Right Now" (by Van Halen!) came on the radio. Seemed like a sign. And that was that - we eloped just a few weeks later.

I still have no friends here, but the job is better, the older kids are coming around, and Dan is still awesome.

J at www.jellyjules.com said...

I'm not sure I have a song right now. But your story is touching as hell. And I will say that I was listening to Simon and Garfunkel today and remembering the moment I felt the most alone in my life, when I received a phone call that my mom had died. Surrounded by love, my husband, my daughter, my brother and father and sisters....and yet, I felt so....alone.

Deodand said...

I absolutely despise her now, but I heard Madonna's Ray of Light at a bad time and it was like drinking a cup of the best coffee in the world

Cathy Johnson Campbell said...

"It's a Wonderful World", sung by Louis Armstrong is always a reality check for me. It is so hopeful while looking in the face of adversity. And... Armstrong's voice is such a powerful anchor... you've got to believe him :)

Karen Sugarpants said...

Brand New Day by Sting. It fits here too...so look it up.
Love you. I know you will be okay. I've always known that.

Suzanne said...

I can't think of a specific moment that a song saved me (I usually turn to music to wallow in some sort of self-pity, so "Nothing Compares 2 U" played a lot after someone dumped me in high school, which did not help me at all), but I always feel better when "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey is on, or "Under Pressure" or "We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions" plays. The entire "Ray of Light" album rocks my world. I'm also uplifted by Sugar Ray's "I Just Want to Fly" and "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La Da" by the Beatles. Life does go on indeed.

More immediately, your description of the men of Van Halen parading around in their outfits made me laugh, and that will absolutely help me get through the day. Ah, the yellow tiger jacket...

flurrious said...

This is embarrassing, but here goes: Baker Street by Gerry Rafferty. Thank you and shut up.

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