On Sunday, as we drove home from a wonderful, relaxing weekend by the ocean, we listened to Top 40. When the four of us are in the car, music is always a topic of heated debate. Matt prefers satellite radio, preferably the 70s or Classic Rock stations, Whit prefers country (Remember? He’s from Texas), Grace likes Top 40, and my music preferences can best be described as boarding school, circa 1991 (James Taylor, Indigo Girls, etc).
It’s usually a battle of the guilt trip and the speedy channel-change. All of a sudden, Matt switched channels, When I See You Again was on, and we were all singing along. I was fighting tears within seconds. At Grace’s sixth grade graduation luncheon they played a slide show with this song on, and I wasn’t the only parent wiping her face. I loved that we were all singing it. I knew in that moment I would remember it forever. It’s normally the line about how “family’s all we got” that chokes me up, but on Sunday it was “As you go and every road you take will always lead you home.” I glanced in the rear view mirror, saw both Grace and Whit singing along as they looked out the window, an felt a ferocious surge of hope that they’ll always remember these days, that somehow we’re creating a family and a home that they both feel comfortable leaving and know will always be there to return to.
I thought then about the songs that remind me of this motley crew, of this family, this time in my life. I’ve written before about the various songs that take me back – often powerfully – to specific moments in my life. This particular season is no different. Certainly When I see You Again is one of them. There are the lullabyes that remind me of both Grace and Whit’s babyhoods, though those are long-gone now (sob).
One night this spring during my vertigo month, I was tucking Whit in (from my knees, leaning onto his bottom bunk), and he looked at me and sang, “the world is spinning round and round I can’t see clear no more …” I think it was the hardest I laughed all month long. Since that moment every single time I hear Ellie Goulding’s Love Me Like You Do I think of Whit. I realize it’s slightly creepy that the 50 Shades of Gray song makes me think of my son, but there you have it.
When Daddy Sang Bass by Johnny and June Cash comes on, we all start belting out. Johnny Cash is one of both Matt and Whit’s dearest loves, and I love the way this song refers to a family of four. And the way it asserts that the family circle will be unbroken. This one isn’t a new one; in 2011 I mused on the way Johnny’s voice comes in my head.
I asked both children what songs came to mind when I asked what reminded them of right now, and they both instantly said Let Her Go. Why, I asked? Because it’s your favorite song, they said. And right now (and for a while) it definitely is.
Team by Lorde always reminds me of one morning last year when Grace and Whit were bickering at breakfast (as they do almost every day; for some reason I remember this one). I happened to have Team on my iPhone because it was on my running mix (I never listen to music on my phone other than when I run) and I turned it on, blaringly loud. The move shocked them so much and I’ll never forget the looks on their faces as Lorde sang “And you know, we’re on each other’s team.”
Taylor Swift is a major family favorite. When her songs come on the radio Matt is known to exclaim, “My girl! Tay Tay!” and to belt out the lyrics. Grace is a huge fan. So am I. Bad Blood will always remind me of this summer.
One Day by Matsiyahu is the song Grace mentioned, because for so many months it was the only song we listened to in the car. Over and over again. Christmas carols are also on the short list, though those (and One Day) are more evergreen than right this second.
What is the soundtrack of your right now?
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