It’s something that just gets down in your bones/baby/And once I see you I can’t leave your love alone/Ya, heh, baby/aw, make me happy baby, aw, make me happy baby, let me sing,/Sha la la la- la la la/oh baby/Sha la la la– la la la,/oh baby…
“Sha-La-La (Make Me Happy)” – Al Green
I think I found the key. It’s been lost for a while to be sure and the truth of the matter is I’ve known where I should be looking for a long time, I’ve just chosen to ignore it.
Have you ever seen the movie High Fidelity? I’m sure I’ve referenced it on several occasions, great flick, one of my favorites. The main character Rob, played by John Cusack, delivers one of the best lines, in my opinion, in movie history:
“What came first, the music or the misery? People worry about kids playing with guns, or watching violent videos, that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands, literally thousands of songs about heartbreak, rejection, pain, misery and loss. Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?”
Well Rob, the key to our sadness is also the key to this boy’s happiness.
Music, it’s always been music, but like some quest for the Holy Grail, finding just the right singer or song to help drag you out of your pain and misery is the search.
Hank works when you need a soundtrack for the bar and someone to help you put a tear in your beer. Any number of bands serve the purpose of setting that “just right” feeling when you’ve got the windows down on the car, the winds blowing, and you’re making a straight bee-line for nowhere in particular.
Some people use drugs to dull their pain, some rely on alcohol to temporarily salve the pain, some take solace in their church or their circle of friends. For me the answer is finding that song; I really love that song.
I used to be able to rely on Otis Redding.
If the day was really going bad, just pull an Otis record from off the shelf and out of the cardboard sleeve, blow the dust off, and gently let the needle fall onto the grooves. Hear the warm crackle-crackle-pop-pop of vinyl telling your brain to soothe itself, introducing the slow groove of “Dock of the Bay.” But Otis hasn’t been cutting it lately, the funk was too overpowering, the rut too deep.
Angry music got me by for a while, channeling the inner demons to a focus and really letting the rage just fly. Despite what all the doctors and TV show hosts tell us, I am of the strong opinion that rage, anger, and all those so-called “negative” emotions can be good and healthy. There must be a head to the tail and every night must have its day.
But I let it go too long.
I was sitting in my office a few days ago sifting through my music collection that’s nearing a complete digital transformation. An ominous task, I tell you, but one that enables me to have darn near everything I own, with room to grow, in one little device. Whatever mood may strike me the music is there.
I clicked shuffle on my iTunes, just something to fill the silence of the hour – it was late, it was dark, I probably should have been under the covers. I don’t like sleeping right now, but that’s a different story for a different day.
And then it happened. The soothing soul trumpets of “Let’s Stay Together” by Al Green wafted from my speakers and it struck a chord in me. I stopped dead in my tracks – what’s this? My body felt compelled to stand up, to move around in time to the music – there it is, there’s that feeling. I found the key.
The next morning was a Monday. I slowly stumbled out of bed, took my demon dogs out, and started the coffee. I’m very much a creature of habit. The coffee brewing, I wandered into my office to look at the morning headlines and wait for the life juice sputtering out of the black machine in the kitchen to be done.
I opened up my music player and clicked on Al Green again.
Yep, that’s the stuff. The manic pendulum swung back the other way. Just a little bit, mind you, but for the first time in a long time, it swung the right way.
So the kid is back, this is my dance ya’ll, Humpty Hump’s my name.