You know how in movies and on TV they play a soundtrack behind the action of the show? And how, sometimes, if the movie or TV show is any good, it enhances and underscores whatever is happening to the main theme of story and the action that expresses it on the screen? Yeah, that. A complex idea that lies just under the surface of consciousness, a something that somebody sometime thought up that actually works and can work quite well. But why does it work?
Put as simply as I can say an idea that is so layered and complex, it is because that is how real life works. Yeah, there is music in the background of every life. It plays almost unnoticed until that point where you suddenly realize how it defines your very soul.
Through childhood and junior high and high school, I used to joke with my two sisters that every song that came on the radio was my favorite song, my theme song. Every new Beatles’ song, or Paul Revere and the Raiders’ song, or Elton John musical fantasy was the song that defined my entire life. Yes, I really was that fickle. But I was also responding to a sense that who I was had to change into something new as often as you heard a new song on the radio or bought a new record album. (Yes, I know some of you have no idea what that is, but I am a child of the 60’s and 70’s, and I make no excuse for that. So deal with it.)
I hope you have listened to some of the YouTube song-thingies I have added to this post. They are not picked at random. They are some of the key theme songs of my goofy, pointless, and fantastical life.
The Astroboy opening theme is here to represent my early childhood. When I had the courage of the irrepressible imagination of childhood. I soared with Astroboy through every black-and-white episode I could get hold of in the 60’s. At times it met getting out of bed early to catch it at 6:00 am, just after Channel 3 came on the air in the morning. At times it meant rushing home as soon as school let out because it came on only half an hour after the last bell, and the school was on the north end of Rowan, while home was as far south as the town went.
I really used to believe that I would grow up to lead a heroic life and make a name for myself that would inspire others to greatness too. We are uncommonly stupidly when we are children, and we need simplistic theme songs to wake us up to life gradually.
The Eagles provided the theme songs of my high school and college young manhood. Trying out life, at times boldly, and at most times timidly, I had to “Take It to the Limit” as often as I could manage. It turned out that due to irrepressible social awkwardness, my greatest presses against the walls of my existence were all academic in nature. We learn by doing… and failing… and trying again. The songs become more complex as they weave themselves into the background of your life story.
As a young teacher, shy and soft-spoken, it was impressed on me that discipline was about controlling behavior which you had to do by being stern and unyielding, good at rule-setting and handing down punishments. But with my goofy temperament and non-threatening clown face, I soon learned that that road only led to misery and heartache for both me and, more importantly, the students. In the 80’s I learned that you had to follow Bobby McFerrin’s philosophy of “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”. I learned that you don’t teach someone lasting lessons by pushing them from behind with paddles and switches, but by leading them forward with jokes and obvious joy in the lessons you are teaching.
Now that I have grown old and awful in the winter of my life, the songs that express my personal themes are classical music and complex with snowflakian symmetry and stark, cold beauty. I would talk about a few more particulars, but I am now well past 500 words, and if you don’t have the idea yet, I’m sorry, you are probably never going to hear that music yourself. But don’t worry… be happy.