Friday, November 18, 2005

If Music Be the Food of Love...

EVERY NIGHT I take my son up the wooden hill to Bedfordshire and we sit on our big comfy rocking chair in the nursery and look at the luminous stars which decorate the ceiling.

As he drinks his bed time milk and allows me that one uninterrupted cuddle of the day, we listen to a CD of suitable music to soothe the rather insane and crazy baby before I deposit him in his cot for the night.
Some of the songs are so cheesy they could be used to advertise Dairylea (sample names "Lullaby Wishes", "Baby of Mine" and "May All Your Dreams Come True") but latterly we've slipped a few 'proper' songs into the mix.
We're lucky in that the wee man has quite an impressive taste in music. His favourite artistes include Damien Rice, Eva Cassidy, Brian Kennedy and, bizarrely, The Keiser Chiefs (I can't explain how surreal it is to hear a 21 month old sing "I Predict a Riot" at the top of his voice).
The upshot of listening to these songs each night is that now there are certain songs in this world which I can't hear without immediately being mentally transported to that rocking chair, those sleepy cuddles and the feeling of love for a child which is at its very strongest when he falls asleep in my arms.
As I rocked back and forth with him listening to a lovely cover version of the Beatles classic "In My Life" the other night (a Canadian singer called Chantal Kreviazuk if you are interested), I started to think about songs and how they really can provide a soundtrack to your life.
The opening notes of a song really do have the ability to awaken memories that you have long forgotten or buried away as you rush through the day to day of modern living at break neck speed.
And of course, certain songs will mean more than others. For example I can't hear a John Denver song- any John Denver song- without thinking of my childhood.
My father is a huge John Denver fan, which means my mammy is too- by default-(I actually think it was in the wedding vows "I promise to love, honour and listen to John Denver non-stop"). Our childhood was one big mix of 'Annie's Song', 'Grandma's Feather Bed' (Daddy would sing "I even kissed aunt Lou!" and we would all shout the requisite "Whoo!") and the lesser known "Home Grown Tomatoes".
Each Christmas was a musical feast as John Denver teamed up for the Muppets- the only bum note being when my daddy (God love him) told a five year old me that when he died he wanted "When the River Meets the Sea" played at the funeral. (Nice song- shame about the traumatising effect on a five-year-old of thinking her daddy is going to die at Christmas! )
As the teenage years hit, the musical taste varied. "Shocked" by Kylie Minogue will always remind me of my school friends and of our 5th year social. Being so very cool and with it, myself and my friends knew all the words to the rap. We still do in fact- and perform our unique version every time we get together to have a few drinks.
The very same group can also still do a cracking version of "Hold On" by Wilson Phillips with a few drinks in us to loosen the vocal chords. Only problem is, we have to find a street suitably wide and long enough to allow to stride arm in arm down it singing at the top of our lungs ala the ladies in the original video.

"Jump Around" by House of Pain will remind me always of our painfully dreadful sixth form formal- and while it is one of those experiences you can look back on and laugh about, the actual jumping around like a mad woman to the song is now sadly beyond me due to the joys of a post baby pelvic floor. (Which reminds me...must squeeze!).
If I want to remember my late teens, all I have to do is listen to Mariah Carey warbling to "All I've Every Wanted" which reminds me of an unrequited love affair that never quite happened. I realise now what a lucky escape I had, but at the time I literally thought my heart would break that a certain college class mate didn't return my affection.
Thankfully, as the years progressed life got a little better- as did my taste in music- and the sound track to my final year at college is a wonderful mix of soul songs thanks to discovering a very cool live music scene in Belfast.
I can't hear Stevie Wonder singing "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" or any of the Commitments' hits without being transported to a certain bar in Belfast, dancing the night away with a cold drink in my hand.
But life is always moving on. At the moment, it's hard to get the chance to listen to any music which doesn't revolve around nursery rhymes or weird hand movements and dance routines.
My sleepy time cuddles are my music moments these days and I'm aware that all the time I'm starting my son's very own soundtrack to his life.
Perhaps when he is older he will remember the soppy lullabies, or even the fact that my daddy was right and John Denver singing "Perhaps Love" is wonderfully soothing.
But for now, the song which will remind me always of my son and of our time together over the last 21 months is Brian Kennedy singing "A Case of You". It was playing at the time my waters broke, and it plays every night when I put Joseph to bed.
Most telling of all though is the line which, whenever I hear it, I think of my child and of how I'm ridiculously obsessed with talking about him, writing about him and- generally- spoofing about him.
" I remember the time you told me,
"You said love was touching souls,
"Well surely you touched mine
"'Cos part of you pours out of me in these lines from time to time."

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