Music Helps Make Memories
Music means different things to people. There are so many kinds.
The classics - Mozart, Shubert, Bach and Beethoven - seem to have been with us forever. There's jazz, folk, country, popular, gospel and of course, hip-hop and rap.
Some question whether hip-hop and rap can be called music. I happen to be among those people. Many of the great compositions of the past had no lyrics, and when I hear some of the lyrics today, I believe we would be much better off without them. Instead of inspiring listeners to grand heights, they encourage exploiting the weak and vulnerable and appeal to our baser instincts.
Several days ago, Pat and I went to the Temple Theatre in Sanford to see "South Pacific." We had seen it on Broadway and couldn't wait to see it again. There is a song that talked about how we have to be taught to hate others who are different. The song tells a story that is timeless. The lyrics encourage us to be tolerant of others and to try to understand and care for them, not hate them because they are different.
I love to play the old hymns at our church. I love seeing the happiness and joy my music evokes in the congregation. One parishioner told me a song I played brought back memories of her mother, who loved the song and asked that it be played at her funeral. Another remembered that the song was being played when she gave her life to Christ many years ago.
Different songs, different memories, different impacts, different results.
In the military, we began the day with the spirited notes of reveille and ended it with the haunting strains of "taps." That song goes back to the Civil War and was written by a Confederate soldier who lost his life on the battlefield. His father, a Union captain, requested a band to play for his funeral. His request was refused, but one musician was allowed to play the trumpet. The song he played was "Taps." It is still played today by a lone trumpeter at military funerals as friends and family say goodbye to a loved one. Along with "Amazing Grace," it is a simple tune and one of the best known compositions in the world.
Songs touch people's hearts. They raise our spirits or cause sadness as we remember events of our past. I remember the songs that were played when my wife and I were married. I remember "O, Promise Me" and "Ave Maria" - and the people who sang them. They are as much a part of my memories of our wedding as the minister and others in the wedding party. And who doesn't remember the song you first danced to when you were courting your sweetheart. All of us had a favorite song we called our own. Ours was "In The Mood For Love." It still is.
When I hear rap and hip-hop, I wonder if young people identify with the words when they're with their girlfriend or boyfriend. I wonder if they can hum the tune. I wonder if they have the same thoughts about family and love that I do when I listen to "Let Me Call You Sweetheart" or "Don't Sit Under The Apple Tree With Anyone Else But Me." I seriously doubt it.
Songs of inspiration lift us up and warm our hearts while songs of violence and hate bring us down. I'm going to stick with the good old hymns and music that makes me feel good about myself and other people. I hope you will too. When I play, I want my music to bring good thoughts to people's minds.
Robey Howard is a local freelance writer.
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