I was in Torreón for about three weeks before I realized that a part of me was shriveling away from the lack of music.
In Louisiana, I lived on Pandora. I had Latin music to improve my Spanish and 70s pop to evoke the feelings of my teen years, the Gaithers to remember my family heritage, Cuban dance music while exercising. I listened to classical for focus and meditation.
Pandora doesn’t work in Mexico. I learned this when I first got here, but I had so many other things on my mind I didn’t take the time to figure out another way to get music.
Music has always been an big part of my life. Huge, in fact. In my earliest memories I can hear my mother singing hymns as she cleans the kitchen. I learned songs like “Too Pooped to Pop” and “Hambone, Hambone, I ain’t gonna work no more” (I have no idea where that song comes from, but I can sing at least three verses), and I remember my own self singing Sunday School solos including the Jimmie Davis classic “Let the Sun Shine In.”* At our country school on Friday afternoons, the entire school gathered to sing American folk ballads and all the patriotic marches and “Dixie.”
Soon after stereo music came to life in the 1970s, we had a turntable in our house. Most of the vinyl disc covers had a picture of the RCA pooch Nipper in the corner. (I guess RCA was the biggest producer back then.) We had Jim Reeves and The Rambos and a stack of Christmas albums and there was music emanating continuously, gloriously from the polished-wood console.
While I was in my teens, I snuck around a bit to listen to the radio . . . the romance of the sneaking around plus the romantic lyrics and the radical beats all called to my desperate adolescent soul: Listen! Listen. There is truth here.
More recently, I learned to listen to classical music. As I sit here in my kitchen writing this, the Vaughn Williams composition “Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis” flows from the remote speaker.
Which I am so proud of myself for figuring out, by the way!
My coworkers told me about Spotify, which DOES work in Mexico. I figured out how to turn on Bluetooth in my laptop and phone and now I can carry the remote speaker my kids gave me all over the apartment! I can have music while I shower and while I wash dishes. The Spotify app works in much the same way as Pandora, and I love my stations. The relief and comfort I felt having music again surprised me.
I have been reading my workshop students’ essays. One of them used this quote: “Music is life. That’s why our hearts have beats.” When I googled “music is,” a lot of quotes came up. “Music is my therapy.” “Music is my sanity.”
Music may not be as important as food and water, but it’s pretty close. Now that I think about it, I could write a book about music as an integral part of the human experience. (But I won’t.) What I had forgotten for a moment is how vital music is to my life.
Now I just need to find some place to sing karaoke.
* I stand corrected. I confused the song “Open Up Your Heart (And Let the Sunshine In)” with “You are My Sunshine.” The song I sang in Sunday school has an interesting history actually, according to Wikipedia, that will undoubtedly, at some point in the future, appear somewhere near me .