The Love Of My Life

February 21, 2013

It was somewhere between exiting my mother’s womb and my fourth birthday. I don’t remember the exact date, but that’s not important. The important thing is that it happened. There was a day early in my childhood that I fell, deeply and madly, for what would become the love of my life: Music. I was always aware of music. The sound of my mother’s voice as she sang me to sleep. The radio playing high up on the kitchen counter. My parent’s record collection. The church choir. I was immersed, from a very young age, with these beautiful sounds and melodies.

But there must’ve been a moment where it became more than just an acknowledgement or an awareness. A moment in which this callow fascination transformed into the passion that it has become in my life. And in that moment, everything changed…

I looked at everything from this new found musical scope. In my mind, any equation, weight, or measurement, could just as easily correspond with any song or composition. I found myself listening to the radio as I laid in bed at night, dissecting every song, and soaking in the very shape and flow of each tune. I spent countless hours sitting cross-legged on our living room floor, playing (and occasionally scratching) every record that my parents owned. From Stevie Wonder to Boston, from Dan Fogelberg to Kansas, then Billy Joel and eventually Keith Green. The list goes on and on.

Both of my parents are singers, and my mother plays the piano. So I had the fortune of not only growing up listening to great music, but being surrounded by it as well. I can recall as early as two or three, sitting on the edge of our worn out piano bench, and watching in awe as my mother sang and played. For all I knew, she was the greatest pianist and singer in the world. I would eventually grow old enough to realize that this wasn’t exactly accurate, but it didn’t matter; I had the best seat in the house, and what I heard was beautiful. (And for the record: my mother was and still is a very talented musician, with a beautiful voice, as is my father.)

I soon discovered that this new love of mine was all around me. It was playing on the intercom at the grocery store. In shopping malls. At church. At school. And also, in my head. Around 5 or 6, I started piecing together compositions in my mind. I’m sure some of them were recycled melodies that I had heard throughout the day, but some were truly my own. I would hum them to myself during the day so I wouldn’t lose them, and then I would race home from school, run to the living room, jump up on the piano bench, and starting pounding them out on the keys. This went on for years, until that is…I picked up a guitar for the first time at the age of 15, and everything changed. The piano had been a worthy translator of my musical musings up to that point, but I’ll never forget the feeling that spiked through my core as I strummed my first chord: E minor. I knew right then that this was the new vessel that would help create and convey the songs that were singing within me.

In addition to learning piano, guitar and singing, I’ve also taught myself how to play the bass and the drums. I even fooled around with the harmonica just long enough to realize that I hadn’t quite reached the emotional breadth to fully appreciate such a sad and lonely instrument. I’ve been in countless bands, some of them actually pretty good, including the two that I am currently in.

What started as an infantile fascination, has turned into my livelihood, my passion, and my one true love. It is the blood in my veins, and the air in my lungs. No matter my mood, or my circumstance, I crave music. Just the other day a friend of mine, who is obviously aware of my unrelenting need for music, asked me this question: “If you had to choose between going one day without eating, or one day without music, which would you choose?” I smiled, and without hesitating, gave him my answer. He laughed and said I was crazy. Maybe he’s right. Who knows.

All I know is that from an early age music has been the one constant. My point of reference. And the language for which I speak. If I liked a girl, instead of telling her outright, I’d make her a mixtape. It didn’t always achieve the desired effect, but when it did, I knew I had found a true kindred spirit. For some, music is a nice distraction, much like a sitcom or a board game. But for me, it magnifies life in a way that nothing else can. It brings me closer to God. It makes me feel alive. And it gives me a sense of purpose and belonging.

Victor Hugo once wrote, “Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent”. So true. Where mere words fail, music succeeds. So hit play or drop the needle, whichever you prefer, and let’s get lost in the music.