Sweet Melody

Sweet Melody

Sing, sing a song
Make it simple
To last your whole life long
Don’t worry that it’s not good enough
for anyone else to hear
Just sing, sing a song.

Sing, sing a song
Let the world sing along
Sing of love there could be
Sing for you and for me.                    Words and Music by Joe Raposo; performed by the Carpenters

Music is extremely powerful! I reference a song’s lyrics frequently in my blogs to assist in expressing what I am thinking, feeling, or experiencing. People might think this is odd, simple, unintelligent, or even shallow, yet these judgments are often derived from unfamiliarity of the melody, the words of the song, or the emotions that the song itself actually can bring to ones soul as they listen to the song. When I was little I heard the phrase that music can calm the savage beast, and I truly have experience the calming effects of music when I myself am upset. Music can melt away fear, anger, and hurt.

Music has a mystic manner of being able to take you instantly back to a specific place and time in your past. The transcendence is being half way in the current time sphere while existing in the moment in the past. The song “Weekend in New England”, was sung by a friend Cathy Lynn Vandenberg at a school concert in January of 1981. Though the words and the melody were identical to the song heard on the radio sung by Barry Manilow, the manner that Cathy sang the song was so profound unique and special. Several weeks later Cathy was killed in a tragic accident, and now every time I hear that song on the radio, no matter what I am doing I must stop what I am doing, even driving I have to pull over to the side of the road, because I am immediately transported to sitting to sitting in the auditorium of Eaton Rapids High School watching Cathy beautifully sing this song. I her only her last solo as I listen to the song on the radio as the music mysteriously in my soul listens to her there on the stage so many years ago.

I sat in Asim’s small bedroom with over 20 people at any one time over the course of several hours. Asim and Rizwan  with Asim’s electric guitar muted by the practice amp, the low light of a candle and various people in the room singing along as he played. The people ranged from 27 months old to people in their 50’s with and equal split of people above and below 30 years of age. The people ranged in ethnicity from; Pakistani, American, Pak/American, English, Pak/English, Irish, and Pak/Irish. The songs were a combination of folk Pakistani, Central Asia contemporary songs sang in Urdu, and U.K,/U.S. contemporary/rock sang in English. When the songs were sung in Urdu the Irish, English, and American that did not speak in Urdu, though we could not understand the words, we could understand the music by our souls ability to translate the melody into a sense of what the song meant. What we saw and what was heard transcended beyond language and through our visual and auditory senses, the manner the words were expressed and the melody, provided each of us an understanding and connectedness to each person in the room. 

At one point the Pakistani crowd turned to those of us that were not native to the land of Pakistan and asked us to share a song. Naomi who is visiting Pakistan for the first time originally from Ireland and now lives in England begins to sing a Peggy Lee’s I want to be Seduced a Jazz/Blues piece that simply stunned the entire room. We were enthralled with her voice and the manner that she sang her song of choice. At the end of Naomi’s song Naeem captured the essence of the song by wishing Imran and Sundas a congratulatory happy anniversary as we transitioned from one day into the next which was their fourth anniversary.   Later I too sang a song “Moon Shadow” by Cat Stevens since it has always been a special song for me since I was young. I felt that the entire experience was like “leaping and hopping on a moon shadow moon shadow-moon shadow” since everyone shared in the experience either by singing along or simply listening in their own way appreciating the songs in conjunction with the fellowship and fun.

At one point in the evening Naomi and I looked at each other and I said to her, if only people from back home could see this, Naomi replied, I was just having the same thought. We ended our sing, sing a song time in the wee hours of the next day with every person who was there in their own way savored the experience as if it was the finest food that we had ever tasted. The shared experience brought all of us closer together in a manner that time or even talking ever have done. Later in the day as many of us saw each other, we remarked at how special the experience was last evening. Naeem remarked to me in essence how music really could be a powerful tool of diplomacy. As Naeem spoke about diplomacy and music, I thought about what Tracy Kidder shared in his book “Mountains Beyond Mountains” Dr. Jim Kim went to Siberia for Dr. Paul Farmer to meet with officials regarding Partners in Health work in Siberia. The night before the meeting Dr. Kim and his host went to dinner and as the evening went on with beverages flowing the room erupted into song. The bond and unity formed during the evening sing along built a relationship between Dr. Kim and his host in such a manner that the actual business meeting the next day was now a simply an manner of formality. All of the work that was planned in terms of building relationship was no longer necessary. I think it is time we all start to sing, sing a song, make it simple to last our whole life long…. Just sing, sing a song.


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