The world needs to come to music


There’s a wooden board hanging on my kitchen wall. Half of it is corkboard where I tack up pictures, lunch menus, shopping lists and forgotten expired coupons. The other half is a white board. It serves several purposes, but lately it’s been hosting the “song of the day.”

Every morning I write a song title in bright neon colors and pull out one of the lyrics in quotes. You’d be surprised how this small thing can slow down a rushed morning.

Music is another body in our house. It’s always there. The girls rarely walk from one room to another without either an iPod or a Kindle going. I’ve warned them about the dangers of toilets and electronics, as I’ve lost a phone myself, but that doesn’t seem to stop them. No room is off limits.

During pregnancy I learned how important music can be to the baby in utero. (For those who recognize it, “In Utero” is not a direct reference to Nirvana’s album with that title. My babies were exposed to all kinds of music, but that wasn’t on this particular playlist.)

I listened to and sang everything (else), from all the nursery rhymes I could remember to classical music I’d never heard before, to the Disney movie theme songs. Ah…good tunes for mommies!

Once they were born, the benefits of music were undeniable. Rocking and singing helped them master eye contact when they were newborns. Then shows like “Blue’s Clues” and “VeggieTales” told them stories by song when they were preschoolers.

As they get older, their musical tastes come into their own. It’s fun to watch. It’s just as fun to drive down the road singing along to some one hit wonder from decades ago while my kids yell from the backseat, “Do you know every song that comes on?”

I don’t, of course, but I have a few years on them and a knack for recalling lyrics to obscure songs. Like “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.” I’m proud—and not embarrassed to admit—that I remembered every word and it even turned into something I’m not usually capable of: a history lesson. (A brief one, but still.)

After that one, it was “The Night Chicago Died,” then “Seasons In the Sun,” then…)

“Alive Inside,” a documentary by filmmaker Michael Rossato-Bennett about the power of music in the elderly, debuted this past week.

The trailer clip, which is all we can see for now unless we hitch a flight to New York City, tells the story of Henry, an unresponsive nursing home resident who comes back to life when the staff gives him an iPod. (See it at peacetour.org/power-of-music.)

Even though Henry hadn’t carried on a regular conversation in years, the words found him after the staff took off his headphones.

Nobody could have said it better than this old man jamming to Cab Calloway: “I’m crazy about music, beautiful sounds…it gives me the feeling of love, romance… right now the world needs to come into music.”


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