Saturday, August 11, 2012

♫ How To Save a Life ♫

I truly believe music has the power to change lives. I know this is true. Music has helped shape the person I am and I truly credit it with changing (possibly saving) my life.

I don't remember much from when I was little. I remember my mom singing in the car. I remember always having music playing in the front room of our house, and I remember the year I got a karaoke machine for Christmas.

My mom was always singing. In the car she'd turn the radio on and sing with it, or start singing and teach us the words. There are 2 very vivid memories I have and I hold really dear.... One being Carly Simon.

"You walked into the party like you were walking onto a yacht
Your hat strategically dipped below one eye
Your scarf it was apricot
You had one eye in the mirror as you watched yourself gavotte
And all the girls dreamed that they'd be your partner
They'd be your partner, and..."

I cant help but smile. My mom would sing that with such feeling. She would close her eyes and mean every word that flowed from her mouth.I couldn't tell you what she was thinking, but whatever it was she was serious about it.

Then there was the Spring of 1996 (before everything happened). The Fugees had just released their single "Killing Me Softly". It came on the radio and my mom started singing along. I. Was. Horrified. My mom wasn't supposed to know "cool" music. But you can bet your bottom dollar she knew every word. She never told me how she knew the words, and it wasn't until a year later that I learned of the talent they call Roberta Flack.

Blues music was always playing in our house. Mitch was a big blues fan and that's one thing I take from him. When everything happened that summer of 1996 I remember going to my Uncle Bill, my rock, and telling him I "had the blues". He has taken me under his wing and introduced me to some of my favorite music. I have met so many amazing people in the blues family and they have all enriched my life. One of my favorite bands of all time is Saffire: The Uppity Blues Women. Ann, Andra, and Gaye have become family. (I see them as my awesome aunties!) These ladies have been amazing to me and my family. They had a benefit for my family when we lost my mom, they kept in touch with us.... Their show was the first I went to when I was pregnant with Delaney. I remember her moving and dancing in my belly - a sign she was a fan from the beginning! Now we sing along with their music together. I'm blessed to have Andra so close. We're going to see her play again soon and we can't wait!

All this said, there are 2 artists that I believe shaped the person I am today. The first being Jonny Lang.

I was 14 years old getting ready for school one morning. VH-1 was on the tv as I was brushing my hair. I remember hearing this AMAZING sound, the guitar being played like I'd never heard before. There on the tv was this video.

Ok. I was 14. The guy was cuuuute. But more than that, he was really freaking talented. I was glued to the tv... I had to know this dudes name. My Uncle Bill to the rescue, he got me the cassette (YES! Cassette for my walkman!) and I wore it out in no time. I could not stop listening to it. Anytime I would feel sad, or miss my mom, or pissed off, or lonely, or depressed - I would listen to Jonny Lang. I don't even want to think of where I would be without his music. It was such a hard time in my life and I didn't know which way was up half the time, but I always, ALWAYS turned to this album. I'm sure it kept me out of trouble and who knows what else.

The summer of 2008, only a few weeks after Joe and I started dating, Jonny was playing RibFest, an outdoor music and bbq festival. We were late to the show, and didn't even make it in the fenced in area. But I heard him play. I was trying to pay attention to my new boyfriend, but I dont think he understood. This was JONNY LANG. THEE Jonny Lang. In person. I didn't know what to do with myself. The man whose music helped me through so much was right there! After he finished playing he was walking back to his trailer and Joe turns to me and says "Oh look, he's right there." I thought he was joking and started getting my stuff ready to leave. "No, Tabitha, he's right there walking!" and before I knew it Joe yells "Hi, Jonny!" I look over and not 10 feet from us he looks over, smiles and waves.

Oh. My. God. I didn't know what to do. So I stood there like an idiot. My jaw had to be on the ground. What do you do when you're feet away from someone who had that big of an influence on you? You freeze.

Luckily Jonny came back to RibFest last year. It was September 5, a month before Joe and I were married. He got us 3rd row seats this time, INSIDE the fence! Everclear was playing first, and they were fantastic.

Art was the sweetest guy, taking time to meet with everyone after his set and taking pictures.
 I don't remember a lot of the show. I sat with Joes arm around me, just staring. I was in awe. That was one of the best shows I'd ever been to.

I am not ashamed to admit I wrote a "fan letter" that day. There was no way I was letting this day pass without letting this man know how much a difference he made in my life. I never got to give it to him personally, but I passed it to the security guy who then passed it to Jonnys sister. I hope he got to read it. If not, maybe someday he'll see this. I can't even begin to thank him for sharing his gift with the world. 

"Sure be nice to go triple platinum
There's no guarantee it's ever gonna ever happen
And if I can only reach one set of ears
I know that I've fulfilled my purpose here"

That he has. He has indeed. 

And then there's Tracy Chapman.Man oh man, her voice .... amazing. I remember my oldest sister Tonia had a cassette of hers (again, showing my age) many moons ago. I listened a few times, but mostly only heard 2 songs of hers on the radio, Give Me One Reason and fast Car. I mean, I listened and I liked them, but they were just songs to me. Until 2004.

 That year I entered a relationship that everyone could see was toxic. Everyone but myself. I had no business being with anyone at that point in my life, especially the person I chose to be with. I was just claiming my independence - I was planning a cross country move after living by myself for the first time. (And then an amazing month of staying with my best pal!) Life was awesome. I fell into what I like to call, "The Lust Trap". I wanted to be loved and I wanted something steady. I was recently out of a long term relationship and I wanted what didn't work out with that one... if that makes sense. The person I was with was a decent guy. Handsome, (very) soft spoken... but there were issues there that I couldn't see. Without going into details, neither of us should have been in a relationship at that point. 

After introducing him to my family and friends, like I said, they saw something I didn't. A good friend of mine who I had known for years was the first one to point it out. She told me that things would not end well with this and I needed to try and see things from the outside. Stubborn - I was convinced she was crazy. She told me I needed to listen to Fast Car by Tracy Chapman. Again, I ignored her.

Sure enough, 3 years later I found myself working my ass off supporting us. We had no money and our utilities were shut off regularly. I was living 500 miles away from my family (although I had made some friends who I consider family - I couldn't tell you where Id be without them) and in a dark place. There was violence, although not directly towards me. I would sit and play this song over. And over. And over. And over. ... And over, until the lyrics were burnt in my brain. 

"I'd always hoped for better
Thought maybe together you and me'd find it
I got no plans I ain't going nowhere
So take your fast car and keep on driving"

Over a period of months it hit me - I couldn't do it anymore. My life was in a rotation from sad to depressed to lonely to angry. Where would I be 5 years from then? 10? Again, without going into specifics and details, he was the one to bring up a separation. I had planned it in my mind and Id dreamed of what that moment would be like. Within minutes I was in my car heading to my friends house. She had already told me if anything happened Id have a place to stay with her. Two nights later I went for a drive. I drove for what seemed like hours, but was probably only one or two. Lo and behold (I'm not making this up) the first song that came on the radio was Fast Car.

I knew then that I wouldn't go back. I cant even say it was his fault, it wasn't. I did love him and to this day I want him to find happiness. But I also deserved happiness. I wasn't living up to my full potential. I was only letting myself down. And every word of that song stabbed me in the gut. 

In one sense I should have listened to my friend. She knew what was best for me and I cant thank her enough for her concern. But then I think that if I had, I wouldn't be where I am now. Everything happens for a reason. Ive made some amazing friends family and Ive got a new, amazing life.

I'm married to my best friend. Sometimes I get confused and wonder what I ever did to deserve a partner who takes care of me and provides for his family. Then it smacks me in the face - this is what a relationship is SUPPOSED to be like. Ive never known this before, a grown up relationship and a healthy relationship. Ive got 2 amazing kids and I start school this month with hopes to become a nurse. 

I don't know if I would have had the strength to stay away if it weren't for Tracy Chapman.I still listen to this song and it gives me chills and makes me cry. I'm convinced Fast Car saved my life.


So thank you, Saffire. Thank you, Carly Simon. Thank you, Jonny Lang. Thank you, Tracy Chapman. Thank you, music.


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