Music is the background for my life – play a song and I can relay a feeling, a person, or a snapshot in time with it. Music can bring me up or bring me down – songs come with many memories and feelings and it’s so hard to pick just three.
I grew up with the Beach Boys as the soundtrack to my summers at Huntington Beach. While they were ‘old school’ to current radio at that time, they defined California, summers & beaches in a way that no one else has. My Mom would wake us up early for the trip during the summer week days – wearing our swimsuits under jeans and sweatshirts because it was always so cold & foggy when we got there – she never liked crowds and we would leave before the beach became too crowded. A battered plaid thermos of hot chocolate was always in the back seat and first thing we would do when we got there was to slip off our Keds, lay out the blanket with the thermos to mark our spot, turn on the little portable radio and head out looking for shells. As the fog rolled away and the sun started to shine, it would be inevitable that at least a few Beach Boys tunes would come on the radio as we spent our morning chasing the waves. Hearing any of their songs now, instantly I can feel the sand between my toes, smell the sea air and hear a seagull overhead even tho I am thousands of miles away from that beach.
FM was something new and different from the radio stations I listened to growing up. It wasn’t the top 10 hits over and over, but bits and pieces of people I’d never heard of, album cuts and DJ’s who talked about the artists and their lyrics without talking over the beginning or endings of songs. One of my first loves on FM was a Dan Fogelberg song, “Part of the Plan”. My 1967 Mustang had a small FM unit installed under the dash and that was all I listened to driving to college each day, hoping to hear this song, turning it up loud & singing along each time it was played.
I was the first in my family to attend college, very unsure of most everything as I had no role models and no real family support/encouragement for going to college in the first place – I didn’t know what I was going to do with this degree and many of the lyrics of that song resonated with my spirit and the questions I had.
I have these moments, all steady and strong
I’m feeling so holy and humble
The next thing I know, I’m all worried and weak
And I feel myself starting to crumble
The meanings get lost and the teachings get tossed
And you don’t know what you’re going to do next
You wait for the sun but it never quite comes
Some kind of message comes through to you
Some kind of message comes through
And it says to you
Love when you can
Cry when you have to
Be who you must that’s a part of the plan
Await your arrival
With simple survival
And one day we’ll all understand
And it was the last lyric of the song and guitar chords that gave me both spirit & hope that it would make sense if I just kept at it, you don’t have to know everything upfront to keep going.
But all of the answers you seek can be found
In the dreams that you dream on the way
Even today, hearing that song has the same soothing effect.