Andrea is my friend. She has an amazing personality. Bright, bubbly, optimistic … she can see the good in just about any situation. I like having her friendship. People like Andrea remind me of why I chose a life of service. I wanted to protect people like her from the horrors of this world.
She called me yesterday and we talked about musicals. Andrea loves musicals. She says Oliver is her favorite. That makes sense to me. It fits. Then she asked the most interesting question. “What,” she inquired, “is the musical a soundtrack of your life?”
I have never been asked such a question. It was most intriguing. And so, I began to rack my brain for the perfect answer based around the rather sizable music collection located in the very same room with me.
And I came up with nothing.
Admittedly, I’m not as versed in musicals as Andrea is. I’ve seen a few during my lifetime, but I’ve never really lost myself in them. But I understand the concept.
When I think of a soundtrack, I think of something upbeat, bold, and full of optimism. It may hint at a little pathos or difficulty, but you know the optimism will win out sooner or later. (Except maybe for Rent. I’m still trying to sort that one out.) When I think of that kind of soundtrack, I think of something like West Side Story.
But when I think about my world, my life, and experiences, I can’t hear anything that uplifting. The musical of my life is darker, grittier, and angrier. I don’t think I’m angry by nature. I’m more of a brooder.
My soundtrack is not always uplifting. It’s not extremely optimistic. People like me may win out in the long run, but it’s a slog. It’s a fight. Nobody wants to spend a great deal of time in my musical. And I can’t say I blame them.
When people like Andrea enter the room, they light it up. They bring much needed cheer, or add to the positive vibe already in place. When I think of myself, I see someone that doesn’t enter a room so much as he emerges, usually from the shadows. Perhaps that’s why I love Batman so much. He wants to do good, but it comes from a darker place. A theme like this one makes more sense for me.
And if we really want to get to the heart of the matter, I can truly relate to the smoldering chaos behind a villain like the Joker. A friend of mine once saw a picture of me and said, “That’s a great shot. But there’s a storm raging behind those eyes.” It never occurred to me to feel insulted. It still doesn’t. Because I can completely relate to what he’s saying, and it fits.
I also considered my frequent need for military-like organization and precision. Certain things in my world must be just so, or I will never feel comfortable. A place for everything, and everything in its place. Radiohead knows exactly what I’m talking about.
Funnier still, when Andrea asked me the question, the first thing — the VERY first thing — to pop into my head for an overture was Elton John’s “Funeral for a Friend.” Why? Because my musical would be presented in flashback. We would open at my funeral with people talking to one another, swapping stories and humorous memories. But at least one attendee would be digging beneath that surface, remembering the person they saw on rare occasion, but knew he existed.
That song would lead to the flashback of however that person saw my life (I’m a little gray on that part). However the scene opened, I’m quite sure this would be the accompanying music.
But life isn’t supposed to be easy, is it? Life is about overcoming obstacles. Life is about knocking aside that which prevents you from attaining your dreams. Suddenly, I had a more determined piece of music in my head.
Yes! A breakthrough!
Despite of all the darkness, I was making my way to the light. I fought and fought until I got where I wanted to be. And when the dust settled and I had vanquished my inner foes, this is what I could hear:
The sound of triumph, not easily attained, but definitely savored.
So how to wrap it all up? It seemed to me the best way to show a life well spent was to highlight each aspect with an optimistic flourish at the end. For that, I finally heard just the thing.
I had a completely different agenda for today. But I’m glad I was given this distraction. Finding a lifelong soundtrack was a great opportunity to pause and reflect on my world and what I have conquered to get here. To say nothing of what I have to look forward to. I’d be interested to see and hear what other people consider the soundtrack of their lives.
You can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (cirdecsongs) My book, I Can’t Be the Only One Hearing This: A Lifetime of Music Through Eclectic Ears, is available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other fine book dealers. I’m currently working on my next book, The Wizard of WOO: The Life and Music of Bernie Worrell
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