Soul Music

I cannot live without books – Thomas Jefferson

As a writer, I love books.   As a reader, I love writing.    But with music it’s beyond love.

Soul is a difficult concept for me.    I can’t wrap my hyperactive analytical mind around the notion of an unseen part of me that’s supposed to be most important and, in fact, live on after this aging body dies.    The scientist-reader in me wants to find a book in the Border’s spirituality aisle that will convince me or some scientific speculation that will at least point to the possibility.    As with most things spiritual, age has taught me to depend less on understanding and more on knowing.   There are times I feel my soul being touched even though I can’t define exactly what that means and if I take time to notice, that feeling leads to knowing I have a soul.   And nothing more reliably touches my soul than music.

I’ve tried to be a musician.   I’ve dabbled with guitar, piano and Native American flute but I make acceptable sounds, not music.    For years, I identified with the character Salieri in Peter Shaffer’s play, Amadeus. Salieri agonized because God had given him the ability to hear the voice of God in  Mozart’s music but not to write it, a gift He instead gave to a fool (in the play) like Amadeus.   I knew other people who liked music or even loved music but when I talked to them about it, it left me feeling empty.   My agony was that I felt music so deeply yet had no one to share that feeling.    Older Eyes have allowed me to see that this more-than-love of music is a gift and time has led me to friends that can at least relate to my passion.

As I’m writing, Vivaldi’s Four Seasons is playing in the background but my Soul Music doesn’t necessarily have to be classical or profound or even especially great music.   Mozart’s Requium, which a friend described as “so beautiful it hurts,” probably moves me more than any classical piece if I’ve got the mood and time to be so moved.    But Dave Grusin’s elegant playing of his composition On Golden Pond [1], or Larry Carlton’s jazzy remake of Santo and Johnny’s Sleepwalk [2], or Michelle Branch’s ebullient romp through I’m Feelin’ You with Carlos Santana [3] all can give me a quick soul fix.   I’m not a big fan of Tim McGraw but the spirit of his hit, Live Like You Were Dying [4], gets me every time especially in this video using scenes from The Bucket List.

If given a chance to carry these Older Eyes back to a younger Bud or give someone else a glimpse through them, this is what they’d learn:  There are little things that touch your soul and they are yours alone.   You’ll know them when you feel them.    Find them and do them every day.

[1] Dave Grusin –  Now Playing: Movie Themes – Solo Piano (2004)
[2] Larry Carlton – Collection (1988)
[3] Carlos Santana with Michelle Branch on All That I Am (2005)
[4] Tim McGraw – Live Like You Were Dying (2004)

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7 Comments on “Soul Music”

  1. ViennaBA Says:

    I envy your love of music. I have always liked music, with little discretion between musical theater, jazz, or “sixties” pop. In fact, there is probably nothing other than other living beings (not always the two-legged kind) that can do for me what music apparently can for you. Cherish what you have!

  2. Margie Says:

    I think there are people who can create, people who can craft, and people who can appreciate. Antonio Salieri could craft and appreciate, but Amadeus excelled at creation.
    I see this distinction in myself in the field of arts and crafts. I am unable to envision and thus create anything original. But I am an excellent craftsman, and I certainly can appreciate the work.

    • oldereyes Says:

      I think I believe that everyone is creative in some way. For example, although I’m an engineer, I usually take very creative approaches to problems and my business partner comes up with solutions that most people call out-of-the-box … what they are is creative. Though I’m at a creative loss in music, I paint and write. I also think the line between craft and creation is very fuzzy for us mere mortals.

  3. Oh, you have a soul. It’s the soul that loves music, and only the soul. As an engineer, by rights, you have the knowledge to understand the complexity of the way music is composed or sort of falls together logically – there’s apparently a lot of math involved, though I’m horrible at math. Even things like the physics of soundwaves and revolutions of air in the resonating chamber of a singer’s body are engineering marvels. (For example: classical music was once tuned to A404 – A being the note, 404 being the frequency. But someone in the time of early radio realized that it doesn’t sound as good through transmission as it does in A440. So now they tune to A440. Which means pieces sound just a wee bit off from the way they were intended.) Vibrato in a singer’s voice is a product of the regular and even revolution of air in the resonating chamber. If the vibrato is even, you’re doing it right. But all these are scientific explanations. They only help the experience improve. Only the soul truly knows if you’re doing it right!

    • oldereyes Says:

      Interestingly enough, sound and sound propagation were one of my specialties during my engineering career, although usually underwater sound. I’ve never taken the time to study the scientific aspects of music.

  4. There’s a lot of pedagogy, physiology and physics stuff. When one learns how complex it is (at least from a vocal perspective), one wonders how it’s possible at all. I can’t draw a stick figure, much less paint (unless it’s a wall), so I’m glad I’ve got something artsy figured out!

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