Music has a power unique unto itself. It is truly an amazing phenomenon. It can lift us up, incite us to action, bring us to worship, and awe us with its stunning beauty. A few simple notes can change a mood by reminding us of bygone days or lost love. It can create melancholy, joy, excitement… the reach of music is endless.
I enjoyed one of the most beautiful musical experiences of my life a little over a year ago and it caught me by complete surprise. I know that my ability to feel things at a new level stems from the emotions that have poured into my being since the loss of Kylie, but this music came into my soul and plucked my heartstrings like I was seated third oboe in the orchestra.
So many people sought to encourage Kylie in her sickness. One was a Broadway actress named Megan. When Megan heard that Kylie would be unable to come to New York on her Make-a-Wish trip, she took it upon herself to bring New York to Kylie. She sung Kylie a beautiful rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and enlisted actor friends to make videos to send to her, the last of which was the one actress that Kylie had wanted a picture from all along, Sutton Foster. This was a beautiful, selfless act of encouragement that meant the world to us.
Soon after Kylie died, I learned that Megan was performing in Chicago in Sense and Sensibility, a play based on the classic work of literature written by my lovely wife’s favorite author, Jane Austen. Knowing she needed a boost, I planned a weekend away to take her to see the show with the benefit of being able to thank Megan in person.
That was my plan.
Little did I know I would be flattened by the power of music. I am certain that my tender state after having lost my daughter contributed, but I became entranced by what I was witnessing. I sat totally immersed as the music seeped deep into my soul. Sheer beauty, unforgettable harmonies and lyrics that could have poured straight from my heart.
Once in a lifetime there is loss,
so unmistakably unfair.
Too much for one to ever bear.”
(The Dashwood sisters after losing their father)
“No one knows how I feel,
No one sees through my eyes.
No one hears my cries of desperation…
No one sees this steady hand is shaking.”
(An admission by the eldest sister that she isn’t as solid and together as she appears)
“Marianne don’t scare me, we are in this world together!”
(The eldest Dashwood fearing the death of her beloved sister)
Forty-plus years of life as a male have told me to hold my tears or face ridicule. The past two have taught me the foolishness of that. The show had so stirred my emotions that I wept openly during the standing ovation. I wished I could hug each actor and tell them what it meant to me. We met Megan afterwards and she is as lovely a person as expected. We also met some of the other actors, who had signed a poster for us that now hangs in Kylie’s studio.
I think of that experience and wonder if it was a one-time, perfect storm of timing – where I was in my life at that moment combined with the beauty of the performance that brought out raw emotion. It was certainly a special night.
This brings me to my yard – which is the antithesis of beautiful.
Regardless of its appearance, I still have to mow. I typically listen to music to drown out the drone of the motor. This has never been a problem before. But something recently happened. My computer died and Apple was kind enough to include a set of Beats by Dr. Dre headphones with the purchase of my replacement. I don’t know anything about the good Doctor or his music. I’m sure he is a fine individual and may have grown out of his “F*** tha Police” days. I don’t know. All I know is that he decided people weren’t hearing all the music and built an empire around these headphones. I don’t begrudge him that. I’m thrilled for his success.
And in the end, I guess he was right.
I started mowing and the cast recording of Sense and Sensibility began to pipe through my Beats by Dr. Dre and triggered another bout with emotion. It was literally like I was there. Once again I became a part of the music – I joined their sorrow, felt their hope, and I wept. It wasn’t a little cry that I could blame on Georgia pollen, either. No, I was pushing the mower sobbing with my lip quivering and nose running – an ugly cry on display for my neighbors.
Thanks, Dr. Dre – I don’t want to always hear all the music!
Yet I do want to experience the power of beauty, music, art, and love. Maybe tears are just part and parcel to that.
Welcome to life – we cry a little here.
Sense and Sensibility (music and lyrics by Paul Gordon) is playing in San Diego from July 6th-August 14th at the Old Globe Theatre. If you are nearby, I would urge you to experience the beauty of this show for yourself.