Friday, November 22, 2019

Music, Memories and Emotions

While working in my studio the other day, I heard a familiar show tune playing in the next room . . . the love song that Tony and Maria sing to each other in West Side Story. My husband was watching TV and had stopped at the movie channel while surfing for a program to watch. It is a pretty normal routine for us. I quite often work in silence while he likes to listen to music or watch a movie as he chips away at his "to do" list. He can repair gadgets or put together items we order online from cryptic instructions, while I can't concentrate if there is a familiar tune within my hearing range. I have so many thoughts in my head about what I am trying to accomplish that if I hear music that has lyrics that I know, I will start singing them and then my concentration is broken. Not to mention, I will hum or sing the tune for the rest of the day . . . often to my husband's detriment! (Wink!)

But hearing the love song from West Side Story had a surprising effect on me. I became very emotional and teary. I had to sit down and take a deep breath. I listened and it brought back a vivid memory from when I was a very young teen. I am not sure I had even seen the movie yet, but I asked for the West Side Story record album for Christmas. On Christmas morning, I could see the wrapped album under the tree and I knew right away what it was. I was so happy and after all the presents had been opened, I removed the album's cellophane wrapper, read the back of the jacket and put the album on the turntable of our stereo console record player that was in the living room. I don't know what it was about the music that day that came out of those speakers, but I had an overwhelming and very emotional reaction to it. I cried and cried and my mother was rather confused by my behavior. I remember her saying to me that if she'd known the record would make me cry all Christmas day, that she wouldn't have given it to me. Of course, I reassured her through my tears, that it was a wonderful gift and I loved listening to it. And even though I cannot recall when I actually saw the movie, I do know it was when I became enamored with George Chakiris and Rita Moreno. The undercurrents of the gangs and the tragic story of the modern Romeo and Juliet were new to me. I was a little farm girl, living in a rather insular setting, where we were far removed from a city. But the story hit me in a place in my emotions and psyche that had not been reached before by any musical score. Was it the tension in Leonard Bernstein's tempo? Was it the instruments? Was it the key the music was played in? I think it was a combination of these any many other things. What strikes me the most though, is how much the effect of the music on me is the same as it was over fifty years ago; so much so that after my husband told me he recorded the movie for me on our DVR, I haven't wanted to view it. Not quite yet. I will need to make time to enjoy it with out breaks. I need to be still and enjoy it from beginning to end. Yes. I will enjoy it and have a good cry that will probably tire me out to the point that I'll need to take a nap!

I did a Google search on why music makes us cry and among the many articles I found, I thought the one linked below was good, except for it's abrupt ending.

Have you ever been riveted by a surprising visceral reaction to something triggered by a long-ago memory? It has happened to me only a handful of times, but each one is deep-seated in my psyche. For me, the musical score from West Side Story is definitely one of those memories. Another is the events of this day in history in 1963, when President Kennedy was assassinated. Black and white footage of the news stories that aired for what seemed to be days and days evokes a strong and sad emotion from deep inside and it was when our entire nation was rocked from our foundation. There are personal memories and those that we share with others, but for me the feelings are similar, all encompassing and they always give me pause.

Thank you for taking the time out of your day to read this post. As always, your questions and comments are welcome here on my blog or on Facebook. I will read them and respond.

It is hope that you and those you love are healthy and happy. I pray for all of my readers and until we meet again, it is my hope and my prayer, that the Lord will hold you in the hollow of His hand.


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