When I was young, I never understood why my life wasn’t accompanied by a clever musical score—you know, like on TV. A song for every season, every emotion. A cute ditty to pick me up or slap some sense into me. A rousing melody to soar on the wings of love, or a hammering dirge to crash when love showed itself to be the illusion I feared. But, alas, my life not only came without an instruction manual, it also came without accompaniment.
The truth is, I need music. Especially on those days when it seems some idiot with a bucket of gloom and a brush has wandered through my life uninvited and unannounced and painted the landscape. That’s when I pop in the Garth Brook’s c.d. and hum along to Friends in Low Places. I challenge anyone to listen to that song, really listen, and not laugh. But if that doesn’t work, I guarantee Toby Keith’s I Wanna Talk About Me will do the trick. Of course, I’m a Texas gal and these songs sorta hit my soft Lone Star center. But I bet if you think about it, you have your own giggle tunes.
And those ill-advised moments where I let some guy creep into my heart? Tony Bennett and kd Lang together warbling La Vie en Rose. Our maybe the classics, Unchained Melody and Smoke Get in Your Eyes. I’d bet my last dollar you have your love songs, and I’m not a bettin’ gal.
Okay, maybe this life-is-better-with-music isn’t so unusual. But what is a bit odd about my musical affection, besides the fact that I am tone deaf, is that I need music to write. Perhaps I’ve got ADD, but snap on the headphones, punch play, and immediately the cacophony in my head quiets so my imaginary friends can be heard. For a writer, this is a good thing. If you’re not a writer and you have voices in your head, well counseling might not be a bad idea.
But not for me. The great thing about living in a fictional world is I can live with a mild case of schizophrenia or even a borderline personality disorder and know I am money ahead. Making stuff up for a living is a crazy thing to do all day. So crazy in fact, I once had a psychologist tell me that I would be an annuity to most folks in his field. My response was to grin like a fool, point to my head and say, “Don’t fix this.”
He turned and ran. My imaginary friends and I waved goodbye.
Do you remember the movie Ghost and the Whoopi Goldberg character? She conjured ghosts and got to be so good at it that she had hundreds of them talking to her at once. The folks in my head aren’t ephemeral, heck, they aren’t even real, but they have the same bad manners as Whoopi’s ghosts—they all talk at once. And music is my filter. The weird thing is I can be listening to the most mellow tune while writing a pivotal action scene where practically my entire fictional universe hangs in the balance. Or I can be juking to the Black Eyed Peas while crying my eyes out as I chronicle some disaster that has befallen a favorite character. I know, I probably should’ve taken that shrink’s advice.
But the weird thing is, I’m not sure it’s the song as much as the noise that matters. My apologies to Tony Bennett and all of my other regulars. When under the gun, the noise of a coffee shop or, preferably a bar, serves equally well.
I’ve always been this way. I remember back before the earth was cool and I was a mere child in grade school. My mother would walk into my room at night and there I’d be kneeling over my bed with all my books spread in front of me, the telephone pressed to my ear and the television screeching in the background. She’d punish me for not doing my homework. I never understood that.
What’d she think I was doing?
When you need to organize the mind, marshal the thoughts, create order in your life, or summon the creative genie what do you do?