I was thinking of a song the other day that has had an impact on me lately, especially with its lyrics:
“And deep inside this ancient heart/ You’ll always be a part of me.”
Those lyrics are from the 20-year-old-plus Billy Joel song “Lullabye (Goodnight My Angel)” and it means much more to me every year on my daughter’s birthday. I’m not sure what those lines exactly mean to the composer, but to me it strikes a personal chord. As each year goes by, my offspring is closer to flying out of the nest in a number of ways, yet she will always be a part of me. Those words help me get through this passage of time. Maybe those lines are just me trying to hold onto something whether it is memories, feelings or perhaps things that are more concrete like childhood objects that my daughter so cherished and maybe still cherishes.
Do not get me wrong because I do not dread my daughter’s birthdays. Birthdays are joyous occasions and I certainly welcome them in as I help plan and execute each year’s celebrations with her. But somehow as time ushers birthdays in, I cannot help but be a bit melancholy as I see her develop into her own person and a bit of me thinks that I am losing her in some respects. I soldier on and think of that song with its line that helps me through it, “You’ll always be a part of me.”
As I write this essay, I think about how music and its lyrics have such an impact on its listeners who interpret the lines’ meanings to fit their personal vision(s). Wow, that is awesome! To me, music in general and songs in particular are just one of the many beauties in this life. With so much ugliness constantly surrounding us, we are blessed with music with its universal language in its instrumentation and with many of its compositions, lyrics which impact us in deeply personal ways which guide us through our days.
The beauty of music also encapsulates a time for its listeners. I fondly recall the Shawn Mullins song “Lullaby” which was on the popular music charts around the time my daughter was a newborn. I remember having that song stuck in my head, feeding her, rocking her to sleep while attempting to sing,
“Everything’s gonna be all right/Rockabye, rockabye/Everything’s gonna be all right/Rockabye, rockabye /Rockabye.”
Being a rather scared first-time dad at the time, that song helped me get through those late summer days. Now I know that “Lullaby” has nothing to do with rocking a baby to sleep, but here again is the listener interpreting the lyrics to his vision. On a somewhat related note, it also helped that the then-governor had the hospitals give out classical music CDs to parents of newborns. That CD calmed me down so much, it put me to sleep in the rocking chair on most evenings and overnights.
In the years since that time, I introduced my daughter to some of my favorites. The Beatles’ “I’ve Just Seen a Face” seemed to have an impact on her at a young age while other artists came to her later with Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark” and Elton John’s “Crocodile Rock.” Hopefully they will all have a good impact on her while she listens more to the contemporary popular artists like Rihanna and Macklemore.
OK, I probably embarrassed my daughter enough with these admissions, but writing these thoughts down is quite liberating. Still, here we are years later and as the ravages of time wreak havoc upon me, I will always have my crutches with those song lyrics, “And deep inside this ancient heart/You’ll always be a part of me.”