Wednesday, January 28, 2015


"My heart is like a singing bird"
~Christine Rossetti

Aside from dolphins, and maybe butterflies, birds are my very favorite beings. They are just so magical. I love them, and I envy them. Mostly because they get to fly, but just as important, for songbirds anyway, they get to sing... whenever their little hearts desire.

Music has always been just about everything to me. From Dinah Washington and Johnny Cash, to Elvis and the British Invasion, folk, rock, musical, from aged ten when it really burst into my world, it was never the same. I carried my transistor radio everywhere, lay on the grass staring at the clouds with it, walked to school with it, lay down at night and went to sleep to it, fantasized to it, felt its music's beat, its wonder, its possibilities, its essence deep in my being. I studied the Top 10, poured through the sale, three-for-a-dollar 45's at Woolworths. Later, in high school when I had a job at the Five & Dime, I graduated to albums. Driving an hour to Tower Records on Bay Street in the City (S.F., thank you very much, the only City, home of the counter cultural hippie, peace and free love movement, and the best record store anywhere). Spending hours with the albums, black light psychedelic posters lining the walls... what will it be this time... I can only afford one... Joni Mitchell or Joan Baez? The Moody Blues? Jefferson Airplane? Cat Stevens? The Tijuana Brass? The Funny Girl or the Good, Bad and the Ugly Soundtrack? (I'm not kidding... I still listen to the hauntingly beautiful music from these early Clint Eastwood movies.) Losing myself in the album covers, the art, the sexy musicians, with their long hair and mustaches, shades, cigarettes hanging from their lips. The race home to see if it was a winner... Concerts at Winterland and the Filmore, music to dance to, feel so enlivened by, music to sing with. Usually, and whenever possible, at the top of my lungs. Learning to play the guitar... buying my first real stereo "on time," a sweet Sony, amp and turntable all in one... nice, good-sized speakers, then my first "real" component system, and with it big, incredible headphones for late at night, when the house was quiet but my soul still hungered for more sweet sustenance, and I was in heaven.

It was a love affair I took for granted, and like with so many things, had no idea what I had until I lost it. When at twenty-three I had my first major depressive episode  (there have been two, although my family would probably argue that number) one of the most painful aspects is that I lost music. I couldn't listen to music, not one single note, and I could not sing. It was a barren landscape, for over a year, such darkness, and compounded by the loss of that which had been my constant and most enduring companion, that had nursed my heartaches, assuaged my loneliness, brought mindlessness and a fully embodied joy in so many moments, that made me feel so completely alive.

Since then, it's been off and on. Raising kids, technology changes I was late catching up with, but finally fully rediscovering the joy of music in my mid to late forties, then losing it once again in the dark night that surrounded all of my life changes in the past five years. This time the dry spell was longer, until a year ago when I bought a new car and with it, the worst stereo ever. I drove directly to the nearest car stereo shop and said fix it. And they did. I went for broke, and in the process, brought music back into my life, in the biggest way possible, with the best sound I have ever owned, bar none. I drive around town boom-boom-booming like a teenager and I don't care what anyone thinks... because it is one of life's greatest joys and makes me feel completely and totally alive. It's my backup band, I am the lead singer, and it's all good.

Today, I gauge my mood by how loud I turn up the volume, by whether or not I am singing along. Some days are really good, some still have some catching up to do. But that's okay, because on those days, there are the birds... singing their little hearts out for all the world to hear... never depressed, just gloriously living their dharma... doing what they came here to do, being who they came here to be... beautifully, as though their entire lives depended on it... and I am so utterly grateful.

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