Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Power of Music to Take Us Back in Time!

Earlier this week I heard a song that I listened to quite a lot during my childhood and immediately I was transported back in time to those good old days. So I figured I'd write a post on the power of music and how that relates to us as we raise our families.
As you may know, I was born in Jamaica and lived there for the first 12 years of my life before we migrated to the United States. Now you might figure that my favorite singer growing up was Bob Marley or Jimmy Cliff or perhaps Harry Belafonte. 

Nope, for me it was Neil Diamond. You see, when I was 1 year old, my dad visited the United States and bought the 8 track tape of Neil Diamond's greatest hits (if you don't know what an 8 track is, you're probably under 40 years old).

As far back as I can remember, that 8 track was a part of our lives. So when I hear songs like Sweet Caroline, I am I Said or Cracklin' Rosie, immediately I'm transported to our humble beginnings in the countryside of Jamaica. I think of the Sunday afternoons that we'd go for a family drive. I think of the times we went to the big city, Kingston, to visit the zoo. That 8 track was a constant.
When we came to the United States, we got the LP of that recording. Then the cassette tape, then the CD. And now as I type this, I'm listening to it on my Blackberry. No matter the format, the recording is legendary and holds a special place in my heart.
There's something special about music. It's somewhat hypnotic as it impacts us in a subtle way. If you doubt what I'm saying, let me prove something to you with 2 quick points.
First, have you heard a song from your past and immediately you remember the part of your life that it relates to? For example, if you're around my age - early 40s - when you hear any song from Michael Jackson's Thriller, you think of your time in middle school or perhaps high school. You think of the fashion of the day, the friends who were close to you at the time and so on.
Second, when you listen to a song today that you listened to on a recording when you were younger, at the end of the song, do you automatically begin singing the next song that comes on the recording? Do you know what I'm saying?
For example, if ever I hear Neil Diamond's Sweet Caroline, as the song ends, I automatically begin thinking of Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show. That's the next song on the album so although I never consciously memorized the order, listening to it for over 30 years, my mind has been conditioned to expect that song next.
What's the point of all this? Well, what it says to me is that music is powerful. In our families, we're all about creating an environment that's conducive for our children's growth and development. Music is as much a part of our lives as anything. When we expose our kids to positive music that uplifts the spirit, we're doing more for them than we might imagine.
The quality time that we spend with our kids during the week or on the weekend goes a long way. Years from now when they are adults they will think of songs that they heard during their childhood and they'll think of today as the good old days. Music helps to shape their lives and minds. It's that powerful.
Maybe for you it's not Neil Diamond that takes you back in time. Maybe it's Elvis Presley, or The Temptations. Patsy Cline perhaps? The Jackson 5. Whoever it is, there's some musician that does it for us.
Years from now, our kids will remember when Justin Bieber was topping the charts. And Beyonce and Lady Gaga were doing their thing. And Taylor Swift was establishing herself as a country/pop crossover sensation. Our little ones will remember us and the special times that we shared with them. And music is a necessary part of these memories.
Years ago I heard the expression, "Music tames the savage beast." That, it certainly does; it subtly transports us to places that few other things can.
Do enjoy listening to your favorite songs with your family and creating a lifetime of memories.

The Upbeat Dad

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