When a song hits you

Published 4 weeks ago -


Something that I have never understood, and probably never will understand, is how music can just hit me. Sometimes I hear a song and something just clicks inside of me. It is quite like the feeling of sampling a decadent chocolate gelato in Roma because you can taste sweetness in the notes. Yet it is not a dark chocolate gelato in my hands as much as I would like it to be. It is quite like that warm hug you get from an adoring mother, the kind of hug that just snaps you back into place, letting you know that everything will be alright. Yet it is not that hug, even though something fits like a puzzle piece.

There is something monarchical, something regal about a song that just marches into your life and demands your attention. It processes through your earphones, bringing more than just an impossible list of demands and nothing short of a mountain of decrees for you to follow. Yet there is a glow in the steps of this new monarch. Although he is demanding and taxing, he is gentle, almost as if a butterfly, orange and yellow, of the regal variety. The monarch makes you feel like one of the most worthless peasants in the kingdom, unworthy to hear the commanding voice and unworthy of even experiencing his reign. Yet simultaneously you are made to feel like the most prized jewel in all the land.

If I am correct in assuming that everyone has moments where a song just hits them, I cannot assume it happens for everyone in the same style of music, nor in the same atmosphere. It could be in the middle of a crowded room, feeling like you are the only one who is getting this song, and somehow the song is getting you. Yet the more you listen to it, the more the song gets you, and the less you get it. At least that is the way it happens to me.

Each time a song hits me it is always under differing circumstances. This time it was a Sunday afternoon. A bit breezy, to the point where my hands felt a little to icy but not quite icy enough for a pair of gloves. I had my guitar with me, alternating back and forth between my left and my right because from where I live, the walk to Taylor is long and arduous. The street lights were just beginning to come on, and there was a small glow for them since the sun masked itself with clouds. I decided to pull up the song, because I always listen to music while I’m walking. I consider it just a casual thing. The song is called “But Beautiful” by Kenny Dorham.

Let me tell you, that night my pal Kenny Dorham was not in the mood for a casual listener. There is no introduction to the song. Dorham’s trumpet just cuts right through the silence that permeates your headphones right before the next song. Here I am, walking to Taylor to meet my friend so I can lend him my guitar, when suddenly I am star-struck. I would not be surprised if there were physical stars in my eyes. Suddenly I am dazed, flabbergasted, and I would be deeply embarrassed if anyone were to see my fumbling with my phone to hit repeat.

Suddenly the harp in the background seems to bubble up from the fountain in the duck pond, and it is almost like Kenny is walking right next to me. His trumpet is screaming at me, trying to teach me some lessons. The lights are there to guide me through a dizzying darkness. The crisp air is just right for a stroll with the people I really care about. Each note is a voice I know, trying to remind me of who I am and why I matter. Somehow the notes plead with me. “But beautiful,” the trumpet sings the falsified words to the song, almost as if arguing with my flawed reasoning about the lack of the beautiful in this world. “But your life is beautiful. And the people who show up for you are beautiful. And you are beautiful.”

Two minutes and 44 seconds later, the song is over, and I try to listen to a different song. No dice, since Dorham’s trumpet is still demanding my attention in echoes and shadows. I don’t know if there is something in the air, but I’m inclined to think he’s right. Life is hard, and stressful, and painful, but beautiful.

 The song that hit me: “But Beautiful” by Kenny Dorham

Maia Campbell, a senior, studies political science. She is the Campus Life Editor of  Le Provocateur.

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