At a work event, just last week, I met Joel Peresman, CEO of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I earned the distinct honor of being his “handler” for the evening; meaning I fetched food or drink for him, introduced him to other VIPs, and ensured that he got to his front-row seat on time for his speech. I didn’t mind the job one bit. After all, I’m a shmoozer who loves getting to know people and their stories. (It also didn’t hurt that Joel is a handsome, down to earth, and positively delightful guy.)
I never had given a moment’s thought about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame before that night. So, imagine my surprise when just one week later, circumstances sent me on my way to Cleveland (a place I never visited previously) to attend a conference. Since I was there, how could I not take the opportunity to check out the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for myself?
I didn’t know what to expect, but I was a bit taken aback as I walked into the musical shrine. My senses immediately were assaulted by a range of images and sounds from days gone by. Elvis…The Beatles…Ray Charles…the Rolling Stones…Michael Jackson…Madonna….and so many more who graced our world with their unique styles and forms over the decades. I found myself wondering…Could there ever have been a time with no music? Can we even imagine how empty and sad life would be without it?
I wandered the various levels of the museum and perused the memorabilia (guitars, drums, costumes, etc.). I was fascinated by the evolution of the musical eras, as well as the ways in which certain styles inspired others. I saw the faces and read the stories of personal favorites; artists whose talents and words I’ve admired. I even came to respect those I still don’t quite understand. The biggest surprise, however, came when I saw this:
It seems that the song “Sherry,” that was recorded by the Four Seasons, originally was written using a different spelling for Sherry. The name was spelled the way MY name is. Suddenly, all the years that I hated that song vanished.
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The right words, combined with the right voices and melodies, can resonate in your heart, mind, and soul. Songs, like smells and tastes that evoke synesthesia, can propel us back into a particular time and place. They often say what we don’t know how to say. They share intimate thoughts and feelings that we don’t dare say aloud. They even address the “elephant in the room” that we don’t want to acknowledge.
I returned to the hotel and and immediately started reviewing the playlists stored on my iPad. I was a bit embarrassed to see that my musical tastes are stuck in eras gone by. (The 70s, 80s, and 90s are alive and well in my little world.) But, at the same time, I look back fondly on those various decades and the phases of life that my musical preferences represented. For example, the Bee Gees (aside from having great hair!) were all about falling in love and having fun. Madonna was all about girl-power. Art Garfunkel’s “Breakaway” album was melancholy yet hopeful. The albums of the Backstreet Boys, N’Sync, Spice Girls, Rascal Flatts, and the wildly inappropriate song “Get Low” (by Lil Jon and the East Side Boyz & Ying Yang Twins) were all about carpooling and singing with my kids as they matured before my eyes.
But what I love most about music is how it causes actual involuntary physical responses. There are certain songs I cannot listen to because they make me cry. Others make me want to dance. Some put me to sleep. And then there are those that make my skin tingle and heart pound.
Music is cool. There’s something for every taste and mood.
What’s on your playlist?