It was another snowy Tuesday night in New England when I tuned in to NPR’s Radio Deluxe. It was bird night and floating on the airwaves were songs like ‘When the Red, Red Robin Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin' Along’, performed by Jessica Molaskey the show’s co-host; Boz Scaggs singing ‘Skylark’; Curtis Stigers’ rendition of ‘Bye Bye Blackbird’ (yes sisters, I sang along!); Dave Brubeck’s ‘Strange Meadowlark’; I heard Linda Ronstadt sing ‘Heart Is Like a Wheel’, and the music kept rolling along.
The vibes resonated deeply, absorbed, I guess, when I was too young to change the record or the radio dial, the melodies programmed into my music bone. This night the music eased my household tasks: dishes, picking up snow boots off the kitchen floor, matching up a laundry basket full of socks, finding pens and pencils on every tabletop under books and junk mail, and putting all these ‘things’ in their designated spots.
The radio show went on to include songs from Nat King Cole, John Pizzarelli, the show’s other host and Grover Kemble, Joe Venuti , Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington, Tony Bennett and more.
The woodstove flickered, the radio sang, and for once I didn’t mind getting chores done, in fact, I rather enjoyed them. The music was like comfort food for my soul, a conduit to childhood memories. With the snow blanketing the world outside, inside the music swirled under the eaves of the barn I call home, tickling the timbers like piano keys. Thinking about it, I realize why the phrase ‘music soothes the savage beast’ was coined.
I remember reading somewhere that Jimi Hendrix believed music could actually heal you, like medicine. I wonder what music affected him? I wonder what music affects you? For me, when the spirit moves me there is always music involved, be it gospel or classical, jazz or rock 'n roll, or a bird singing in the trees. Music speaks to me, it speaks to everyone; it reflects our roots, our cultures – and ultimately moods and ourselves. And it can certainly make housework on a snowy New England evening feel like a little slice of heaven.