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Pauline Lerner

March 9, 2005 at 4:16 AM


Music We Lived Our Lives By

Someone I know recently wrote on the subject “Music We Lived Our Lives By” and invited others to do the same. The subject is not music we love and have listened to many times, but rather music that has guided our lives. Here is what I wrote:

I've always loved music and regretted that I can't sing. When I was about 10, I started learning to play the violin. I remember distinctly, one night when I was 10 or 12, listening to my clock radio, which my mother had gotten for me with green stamps, and hearing Eine Kleine Nachtmusik. I knew then that I had a voice to sing with, and it was my violin.

I came of age in the 60s, and I lived my life, then and now, with the songs and singers of that era: PPM, Dylan, Joan Baez, Beatles, Motown, ant-war songs, and especially important, Eyes on the Prize and We Shall Overcome.

Eight Days A Week. In high school, we said that this song was about homework.

War March of the Priests and Pomp and Circumstance were played at my high school graduation, and I still get excited every time I hear them.

Sunrise Theme from Also Sprach Zarathustra was played at my graduation from graduate school. Appropriately, it was also used at the time as the background music for a Tums commercial.

Eyes on the Prize has continued to help me through hard times which last for months or years.

When I was going through my divorce, I used to play Billy Joel's My Life over and over, jumping up and down and screaming to vent my frustration and anger until I wore myself out.

At the end of my marriage, after it was too late, we had some counseling. The therapist liked to ask probing questions. One time she asked me, "What do you really want?" I leaned forward, snapped my fingers, and said, "All I want is a little respect." I've had the same thought in many situations since then.

Again, during my divorce, when something happened that made me feel absolutely devastated, I went out with some friends to hear John McCutcheon. For the first time, I heard him sing Gone Gonna Rise Again, and I knew I was going to make it. It's true that a song can save your mortal soul.

One line in Lay, Lady Lay is, "I want to see you in the morning light." Need I say more?

"Drifting Too Far from the Shore" makes me ask myself, "What is the shore for me?" (It's not Jesus.)

One night as I was cooking dinner and listening to Paul Simon's "Train in the Distance," I heard him sing, "The hope that life could be better is woven indelibly into our hearts and our brains," and I stopped dead in my tracks. That line has helped me so much since then.

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