My Life to Music, A Mini-Series: #1 Blackbird by The Beatles

I love music. Love it. I can put every single moment of my life into a soundtrack. I’d prefer it that way, honestly. I’m one of those people who can hear a song and create an entire life out of it. I melt into it, become it, make decisions off it, change the course of my life due to it! I’m jealous of the person who created flash mobs, it’s brilliant! Breaking out in random dance to Single Ladies in an ordinary and otherwise ‘blah’ place, yes please.

This all consuming feeling for music has led me to a melting pot of tracks. Since I don’t possess any skill in playing an instrument, mixing tracks, singing, writing lyrics, or any of the sort, I turn to a portfolio of music that can place me in the deepest of depressions and the highest of the highs in 3 minutes and 23 seconds.

So I’d like to introduce my first mini-series: My Life to Music. This five part series of stories is picked by the shuffling of my iPod, plain and simple. Because for almost every song on my iPod, I can tell you where, why, and what the hell I was thinking when this song was on repeat in my brain. So take a shuffle with me. Or a scat if we land on Ella Fitz Gerald. A head bang if we stop on Prodigy. A slow drag if we swing by The Kinks.

This is my life – to music.

Blackbird by The Beatles

(Recommend listening to the song before, during, or after reading. Otherwise… just listen to the damn song. If you read nothing, listen.)

Growing up 30 minutes south of Pittsburgh in a small town can give you the best and worst of life. It depends who you are. It depends what leaving you to your own devices will, well, lead you to.

And in the early 2000’s, I was facing this dilemma of devices at 16. I had angst. I had an unresolvable pit in my stomach. It still creeps up every now and then. That feeling to be an artist. No. No. To be ART. Small towns don’t work well for that kind of feeling. Turning to the top hits, at the time, of Shakira and Shaggy weren’t exactly getting my artistic vibe in check. So with no guidance on how to hone in artistic talent, no avenue to lift me to the next level, and no understanding on how to go about it, I’d wake up every day, a Tasmanian devil of rage, hitting everyone in my path.

I rode the school bus home most days. Wasn’t interested in being courted by a football player to score a ride home. I was pretty, but scary as all get out to those high school boys. And one day, I sat next to a guy on the bus. We were the same age. He had a portable CD player and lived about 5 miles further into the woods than me, if that’s possible. He was an artist. He could draw. Man, he could draw.

We’d talk music. We’d talk art. We’d talk about how we felt we were born in the wrong era. We’d talk…The Beatles.

After a couple weeks of bus rides home, I got permission from my parents to get off at his stop. His room was in the basement, covered in posters, mainly The Beatles, some Mario Kart. His parents had a record player we would use, and we’d play albums. That’s right, albums, from start to finish. By the time summer hit, I was there every day. We’d hang out until the late of night, smoking cigarettes, heads pressed against the dewy grass, staring at the stars, saying to ourselves ‘What does it all mean?’

Blackbird, how do I fly? How do I fly into the light of the dark black night?

We were hooked.

There would be a healthy debate almost daily on what record to play. I’d want something emotional to put me in a poetic headspace, so we’d play Let It Be. He’d want something to entice his next creative drawing, so we’d throw in Sgt. Pepper’s. I started researching all the conspiracies, hoping with my entire being that Paul McCartney didn’t, allegedly, die in a car crash in 1966. I remember combing through the CD cover of Sgt. Pepper’s looking for the hidden clues. The hand over Pauls head to symbolize his death. The fact that they are standing over what appears to be a fresh grave, and the instrument in flowers is Pauls. I even read about the secret ‘replace Paul’ contest where some police officer from Canada won, and he’s now, secretly, the Paul McCartney we know today. Tell me it isn’t so! My brain. Can’t. COMPREHEND!

That was me, at 16. And 17. And mostly 18. When college came into play, I put The Beatles on the back burner for a bit, but they always find a way home to me. Their lyrics have probably been the soundtrack for most of my pivotal moments in life. But probably the most pivotal was my teenage years. Those very delicate and influential years, in a place where I had minimal push or pull towards anything, really, I actually and unknowingly had the best influencer I could ask for – The Beatles.

They will always be my musical home. So in the words of Two of Us, from Let It Be:
We’re on our way home…
We’re going home.

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