Music to Calm the Savage Beast

I was just listening to the musical pieces on a blog called Monday Music Medicine Show, okay, so I’m a day late, but it doesn’t change what I’m about to say.

There’s no denying that music can calm the spirit as well as agitate it. But this blog today is about all the ways it calmed mine.

When my sister and I were caring for mother, who had Alzheimer’s, the emotional merry go round we were frequently on, would at times prove to be too much. There was many a time we wanted to shout! “Stop this merry go round, I have to get off!!” And it was those times when music saved us.

My sister loves her Christian music and I love it all.  But, the CD’s I listened to the most were ones I could sing to. If I could just belt them out, it gave me the most phenomenal release. The more dynamic they were the better. Aria’s are wonderful for that.

Now, mind you, I didn’t listen to country.  No, no, no. Sorry folks, when you’re down and out, you don’t listen to country, that’s all there’s to it. With country music, you lose the house, the car, the dog, you lose it all and the only way to get it back is to play the songs backward. Period.


I was fortunate at that time to have had a 45 minute drive to work, not to mention scenic country roads, so it gave me plenty of time to chill before getting to work and reinforce myself before returning home. I had the night shift.  One of my favorite (one of two) discs I played frequently were of  Il Divo.  Yup!  Il Divo.

There would be days I’d cry all the way to work singing at the top of my lungs, The Power of Love, Adagio, Hallelujah, La Promesa, All by Myself, I Believe in You and Amazing Grace. Their songs were in Spanish, Italian, German, French and of course English and I can sing them all.  If I needed extra cheering up, I’d listen to “Mama Mia!”.

When Susan Boyle came on the scene, I had to get her Cd. Listening not only to the words on her CD and knowing her story made it that more inspirational because that was how I felt. That was how we felt at the time. It was her too that inspired me to write again, and for my sister to draw.  I’m sure many other women our age were inspired and revitalized to go for their dream, just from watching her. Can you not see this wallflower, taking care of her mother, all alone, living vicariously through music? I did, because that was my story.

As a child, I lost myself in music all the time.  Interestingly, Daddy was the one who introduced me to music and sounds from all over the world.

I remember the first time I heard Ima Sumac, a Peruvian singer often rumored to be an Inca Princess, and who was famous for her 4.5 octave vocal range. Many attributed it to her having lived in the Andes and having well developed lungs because of the altitude. Neither here nor there. The fact remains though that when I listened to her music and learned her songs, I was lost in the Andes and it was me that was the Inca Princess. It was I who lived with the Jivaro tribes and yes, they were headhunters, but my head was exempt.

Then there was Miyoshi Umeki, an Arthur Godfrey find. A sweet, beautiful Asian girl. Her albums included many American favorites, but also songs from Rogers and Hammerstein musicals such as Flower Drum Song and Sayonnara. It is no wonder that musicals in general became my next love.

I remember always singing. If I was singing, I was entertaining my parents and if I was doing that, they were happy. Singing and music made my life joyous. I remember mom telling me once, that she liked how I was always happy. What can I say? I’m a half full kinda lady.

In times past and even now, I’ve been known to make long cross country trips driving. These started shortly after I lost my airline privileges.  And not always because I wanted to, but when money got tight, it was how it had to be. Nope, nope, nope. Roll that one back. Yes, and No. The truth is I’m too cheap. After having worked for the airlines and only paying tax fees or surcharges which were minimal, you kinda gulp big time to pay what the average person pays to fly from one place to another. Once I lost those privileges, I couldn’t see paying full fare. So, if it’s not an emergency and I have time, I drive.

But driving can be fun and I would use it as an educational experience and what better way to see and get to know this wonderful country of ours? So, after the divorce I started on these adventures with my girls. Bottom line it was fun too.  When it was just me and my two girls we often took trips cross country and on those trips, time went by far more quickly singing. To date, the only states I’ve not been to by car are, Alaska, Oregon, North and South Dakota, Michigan and the upper northeastern states of Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.  I just have to see Vermont. So, I still have to get to 10 of the remaining states. Hmmmm

When I’m by myself, in a car, I listen to books on tape and sing. It was always my thought too that singing was a safeguard against falling asleep at the wheel.  I mean, how can you be singing and fall asleep? Well, you can. I’m proof of it.

One time a few years ago, my son’s newborn ended up in ICU.  It was his first child and only a couple of days old. I knew how much that child meant to those kids way before he arrived and it broke my heart that something could be wrong. When I heard, I just packed up a few things and left straight from work. When I was young, it was no problem driving for long hours without sleep. But, I’m not young anymore and I was already tired from a long day at work and having gotten up at six and now it’s a 12 hour drive ahead… you get the picture. I couldn’t fly into this little bodunk Texas town any quicker, not to mention the cost was horrendous and even more so last minute. I had no choice. I figured I could get there by about 6 in the morning.

At the time, I was rehearsing for our church’s Easter program and we had to have all these songs memorized. Perfect. Great opportunity. Easy -peazy. I would sing my way to Lubbock.  Not so.

At about 8 pm it started raining. Not always hard, but constant. By one a.m., I’m almost through Mississippi. Then it happened.

In the middle of “Welcome the King” I started to lose control.  I had just serviced my car and thought, oh no, they didn’t put something back together right. Something is wrong with the car, so I slowed down, listening and hearing nothing. After awhile I kept going but also thinking I’d get off at the next exit. I was sure there’d be a dealer in town that could check it in the morning. Plus, I knew I was tired but no way thought that was what was going on. So, I kept singing to stay awake.  The next thing I knew I was swerving all over the road. I panicked and the next thing I knew I was out of control. It was all I could do to keep the car upright, but I spun out and at one point on two wheels finally ending up in the far side of the highway median. Only I really didn’t know where I’d landed.  By now I was wide awake and there was a big semi truck heading straight for me.

Because my car had been completely covered in mud and grass from the heavily saturated divide, I couldn’t see a thing. Even though I only vaguely saw it’s lights, I knew he couldn’t stop safely in time or swerve away from me without causing greater havoc, so I awaited my fate.  There was just the haze of oncoming lights headed straight for me, so when he passed, I thought he must have changed lanes.  Right after that another semi came and I knew this would be the one, but he too went by. So, I tentatively opened the door and found I was on a curve in the road. My car was facing the curve just right to give the illusion I was in their path. What a relief!

Did my life pass before me? No. For a split second I felt sorry for the trucker and hoped he’d be okay and that no one else would get hurt. The only other thought I had was, “This is it”.  I was surprised later at how accepting I was about dying and I knew if he had hit me, I would for sure have died.  Thoughts that came after were different.

It wasn’t until later, quickly later that the full ramification of that night, had it gone differently hit me. I cried thinking of my poor son at his son’s side in ICU, losing his mom. He would have been devastated, making it the worst day of his life. But, gratefully, God had other plans. His son is now a healthy, beautiful 3 year old and I got to be there to help them get through a rough time and later hold him. Two years later we would welcome his little sister and I would get to love on them both.

Could I be right enough with God, that I was okay with meeting him already? Yes, I did wonder that. Or, was it the theme of our program and the songs I’d been singing that put me in such an accepting state?  I don’t know.

These days my life is relatively quiet.  I don’t generally listen to anything when I’m creating.  Part of it is, it might take away from the mood I have started out on.  For example, if my heroin’s child has been kidnapped and she has to go deep into cartel country, what puts you in the mood for that?  If a child is being attacked by zombies, where do I get that tune ?  The only one that could be set to music perhaps is, when my heroins husband disappears in “The Andes”, well then I just turn on Ima Sumac or there’s “The Chocolate Marble Gooey Butter Caramel Cake” Not much could squelch the mood for that one. So, no it’s pretty quiet right now. When I get back on those last two, it will be different.


Mississippi State Police

BTW: The Mississippi police and Sheriff were amazing.  They stayed with me til I got towed out and didn’t give me a ticket. They just chatted with me, made sure my car could run, told me where the nearest car wash was and where to find the nearest hotel. Last of all, they wished me well and hoped little Hunter would be okay.


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