I grew up listening to Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven. I think it was my dad’s goal to make sure we kids knew what good music was. I never really paid attention to exactly what we were listening to, I just listened to it. What I mean is, at the time, I couldn’t have told you whether I was listening to Mozart or Beethoven. I just knew I liked it. I do know that my favorite album he had was a collection of famous waltzes from ballets. I’ve searched for that collection for several years and not been able to find it. However, this post is not about that collection. This post is about a moment in my life and the power of music and how grateful I am.
So you, my faithful readers, may not know that I was in the National Guard for 8 years. Which means that I went to basic training for 10 weeks (they told me 8, but there was a week zero, plus a few extra days on the end) and then Advanced Individual Training (AIT) for 5 weeks. I was 19 and had never been away from my family for even half that amount of time. I plunged into an environment where swear words and anger were the majority of what I heard and saw. I was pushed well beyond what I had believed were the limits of my physical endurance. During the weeks of basic training, I learned to escape the anger and cussing by singing children’s songs from church in my head. On my own during KP duty, I dared to whisper the words under my breath.
When I got to AIT, things were a little different. We had more freedom and we were allowed to listen to walkmans in our free time. (Yes, this was before iPods.) Three of the four other girls who slept in my room had walkmans and their favorite music to listen to was this rap star, Tupok. I guess I’m lucky they didn’t let us have boomboxes, or I’d have had to actually listen to him too–as it was, I had to listen to them singing (does one sing rap?), and those girls did not edit his songs for cussing, maybe because they would have had to skip 2 out of every 3 words.
I was feeling more and more down all the time. I was missing my family and surrounded by all the anger and cussing and yuck. Also, because of training schedules and misinformation and bad luck, I hadn’t been able to attend church for 4 weeks. I was really getting desperate. One Saturday, we were allowed to go to the big Post Exchange. As I wandered around, I saw a stack of CD’s on sale. Right in front was one that read
The Four Seasons
Across my mind flashed an image of a cassette tape with the words “The Four Seasons” printed on it. I knew this was music my dad owned. I knew I had listened to it before. The CD was on sale for $3.00. I am sure now it was there for me, at a price I would pay. (I rarely ever spent money back then. I didn’t even know how to use the debit card my credit union had sent me and most vendors don’t take checks from WAY out of state.) I bought that CD (they took my check), not even knowing what it would sound like. I think maybe I had a vague idea that “The Four Seasons” were like “The Mammas & The Papas.” I just knew my dad owned it and I needed something from home. I went back to the barracks, borrowed someone’s walkman, and snapped the CD in. It turns out I knew the music well; I just hadn’t known its name.
The first chord was as familiar to me as my own bones and my whole soul sang along with that beautiful music. It lifted me right out of the dark pit I had sunk into and gave me the strength to keep on. The next morning, I was finally able to catch the right bus at the right time and attend Sacrament Meeting. It was a miracle –two miracles sent just for me.
For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads. D&C 25:12
The Lord is my strength and song, and is become my salvation. Psalms 118:14