Music casts beautiful spellPublished 12:16am Wednesday, August 28, 2013
There is something magic about music, and sometimes you can feel how magical it is, how it connects us. When I was growing up, there was always music in our house. I remember hearing the lyrics of Teen Angel coming from the radio in my parents’ bedroom, and the notes of a big band blaring out of the stereo in the living room. On many cold winter nights, I sat in the rocker in that living room and listened to something sweet and slow playing on the stereo while I read until my eyes were too heavy to see the words. The music wrapped around me like a warm blanket, making me feel safe and content. On summer nights, there was the sweet sound of Daddy playing Swing Low Sweet Chariot on his harmonica. And every day, there were songs playing on the transistor radio that I kept glued to my ear during my teenage years. I woke up to the Big Bam in Montgomery and went to sleep to WLS in Chicago. Like me all of my friends, connected with the music, too. The songs’ lyrics were about the joy and pain of teenage love. And, they addressed social and political issues, like the war in Vietnam. A few years later, I sang lullabies in the wee hours to get my babies to sleep. Songs about heartbreak were my companions when my first marriage ended. Music eased the pain because I felt less alone when I heard someone else singing about his or her pain. When I married again, I got the gift of a man with an appreciation of all kinds of music. He broadened my interest by introducing me to sounds and artists that I would not have known otherwise. He also shared music with our child who has autism. It became a bridge into a world she does not always understand. I watched her joy when she discovered a song she liked. She played it over and over and over, laughing and jumping with delight at the sound. Last Thursday night, that same delight was on her face and the faces of several thousand others during a Keith Urban concert at Oak Mountain Amphitheater. In those hours, I experienced the magic spell music spins. After so many rainy days and drizzling nights, that evening the clouds melted away in time for the opening act to start. The humidity dropped and there was the hint of a breeze. The air was electric as Little Big Town finished and Keith Urban walked onto the stage. He started playing and the crowd started dancing. For two hours, almost no one sat down. Instead, folks stood up dancing, singing and snapping pictures. Mid way the show, a nearly full moon rose over the mountain shining brighter than the huge lights that swept through the audience. Even Keith Urban felt its spell as he looked up at that moon. “It’s a beautiful night in Alabama,” he yelled, and the crowd responded with a roar. Toward the end of the show, an invitation went out for people with flashlights on their phones to raise them in the air. Suddenly, the night twinkled with what looked like thousands of fireflies. As the pounding beat vibrated through me, my heart felt like it was beating in time with the drums and with all the hearts around me. I turned around to look at the rows and rows of people behind me. The whole place was a river of lights swaying to the beat of the music as that bright moon silently watched. Suddenly, the separation between everything disappeared. The music, the lights, the moon, the hearts beating, the breathing moving in and out all merged into a swirling, vibrating energy. In that moment, I closed my eyes and felt the music connecting us to each other and to something much larger than ourselves. It was magical.