Scan back and create a timeline based on the music you have gathered to you over the course of your life. If you have trouble getting started consider creating a timeline based on the music that you listened to. This is not necessary, you can just free associate, or take a look at your current collection of playlists/CDs/tapes/albums. Write down the names of your favorite songs as they come to you. Take 5-10 minutes (or as long as you like). But don’t make this hard! When you come up for air look back over the list. Where did the music take you? What stands out? Which songs conjure especially juicy memories? One that got you through a difficult breakup? inspired you to paint? to finish your dissertation in grad school? Did you hear it first at a dance? a party? a friend’s house? Or did you discover it at a concert? What’s the one you played over and over again driving your partner/siblings/room mates/neighbor nuts or they you? Now choose ONE song! This song will be the basis for your exhale.
What’s the title of your song? Why this song? Paint us the scene. Where were you? Geographically? What time period was it in your life? Was anyone else listening with you? Does it remind you of a love affair or an unrequited love? a political movement? Bring us into the moment in as much specific detail as you need. Try to describe the experience of it with your other senses beyond hearing. What is it about the lyrics? or the Cover Art that draws you? Is there something you learned or gained from that time in your life that you have never shared before? Is there something important you lost and are still grieving? Doing this did anything surface that you have been hiding from yourself? What do you feel listening to it now? This exploration could be very sensual or almost dissected. Deja vu.
Here’s what I got:
Dear All-Around-Camper 1969,
Every night that summer you snuck out, crossing Coca Cola Creek and the little ravine from Girls Camp. You’d open the screen door attempting not to wake the little sleeping boys. Then you’d climb into his bed, on the counselor’s side of the wall. He planned moon lit night sails and long hikes for the two of you into the Adirondack high peaks. Outings to swimming holes with waterfalls. And surprise picnics produced from a backpack. When he needed to get gas for the motor boat, he’d take you with him down to the ‘Beach House’ at the far end of the lake. He’d order you a Shirley Temple at the bar. He said you had Julie Christie hair. You weren’t sure how to take this, your hair was brown.
Back home that fall he would drive an hour just to show up in your high school cafeteria, embarrassing you with a huge bouquet of flowers. When he went to University, he told you to apply to their ‘Hotel School’. He wanted to be together. You had no interest in the hospitality industry. But you were more offended that he didn’t think you could get in otherwise. That was surely true. He sent a marriage proposal on a postcard. Check the box, yes or no. You didn’t answer, pretended it was a joke. It was your first time and probably his. It wasn’t what you thought it should be so you made it mean that he couldn’t possibly love you.
Even now, are you sure? You remember how it felt, right? Driving in his forrest green Mustang? Windows rolled down? Passing the tiny rural post office? The August night air? That chill passing near Catamount where the wild blueberries grew? Expertly taking the “S” curves in the road? Signing out for a dinner date? The luscious DCBs (dressed cheese burgers) at Steinhoffs? His fingers pressing Bob Dylan’s “Nashville Skyline” into the 8 track tape player? Something ran through you? After all this time? What remains inked on your heart? Just three words… “Lay Lady Lay”
Elsa Wolman Katana
based on the principles of Martha Beck’s ‘Write into Light’