I read an article this week in the Atlantic about a study that finally put a name to people that don't like music- it's called being defective.
I'm just joking about that - a little bit - actually it's called specific musical anhedonia. Still, even with naming the thing, I can't understand someone who doesn't like music, but could actually take it or leave it, and more often than not would choose to leave it. Music has been a part of my entire life, even though my parents were not particularly musical. From my first 45 - I think it was Eddie Rabbitt's "Every Which Way But Loose" - to my first cassette - Men At Work's "Business as Usual" - to my first CD - the Black Crowes' "Shake Your Money Maker" - I have always had music playing, buying music, listening to new music, driving to music, playing music. According to the Atlantic article, I am what they call musical hyper-hedonic, which describes people who find life unimaginable without music.
Some of the most energizing, joyous, ecstatic moments of my life have been with music. I remember listening to marching bands in parades when I was a kid and the soaring feeling I got from the harmony of the instruments and the thump of the drums in my chest, playing guitar and singing with my friends in high school, sitting under this old oak tree in a field at night, after learning just enough chords to play U2's "Running to Stand Still," playing in my high school garage band and the energy that you get from the music that you never seem to get tired no matter how long you play. Going to see big arena shows in high school and college and the feel, the concussion of the kick drum that knocks the air out of your windpipe and hits you way down deep, past the gut, behind your heart, deep in the diaphragm. I love harmonized voices - the Jayhawks, Carter and Ralph, Emmylou and Gram, and good guitar of whatever genre, Stevie Ray and Jimmy Page, Django and Mike McCready and Stone Gossard from Pearl Jam. I love soulful voices and operatic one, Maria Callas and Aretha Franklin. I love jazz and funk and hip hop and (good) country and Bob Dylan and Big Star and Bruce Springsteen and R.E.M., the Pixies and Nirvana., This past year, I cried for David Bowie and Guy Clark, Merle Haggard, and don't even mention Prince.
I can both change my mood by listening to any kind of music, and be unable to listen to music that doesn't fit my mood. I am likely to skip genres within a single morning, from bluegrass to hip hop, to Aaron Copland to Cheap Trick to John Coltrane. I still think Spotify is the best invention in all of the history of the world, after the multi-track recorder.
So today, after I spent 30 minutes of Sunday School, helping Abby Cain work up "This Little Light of Mine" with a small youth choir, I have been bouncing off the walls with energy. I clapped and stomped and worked up a sweat, and yelled out directions, and new lyrics and, just listened to the amazing voices of these teens and kids we have in our church. I was bouncing in my seat all the way through the church service after. During the sermon, I was signing the gospel version of "Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" over and over.
I listened to David Bowie's "Space Oddity" today, danced and sang along to Elvis Costello's "My Aim is True" while making fish tacos - signing, "Aaaaalison" - dipping the Tilapia in the egg wash, then cover in breading, then in the pan to "I know this world is killing you, ooooh..." Sizzle, sizzle. At dinner tonight, put on a Latin playlist on Spotify and my bass drum leg was going on its own until I apparently was shaking the house and my attention was called to it.
All of this started from snapping off "This Little Light of Mine" and I recognized in church the energy that can come from music, especially with hedonics like me. I was lifted all day. I felt "in the spirit" and nothing I did all day could work out that energy. And that IS the Holy Spirit, in all His infinite, transcendent, and tangible glory.
The Buddhists teach that everything is temporary - good, bad, whatever - so, I recognize the impermanence of this feeling of being filled. Even then, I wonder why everyone doesn't want to have church be just like that every week - energetic and hopeful and full of love and spirit and vitality - so much vitality that my hands stung from clapping even after the church service, an hour after we stopped. But I have to remember that there ARE those anhedonics out there - those that don't get a feeling from music, and some people come to church to find solace or company or peace or quiet. As for me - I think I like to praise Him on the loud cymbals. And I know where to find the Spirit again - because next Sunday is youth choir practice at 9:30.
(This song doesn't really fit the end of this post. I heard it on TV just now and to me it is instant "up". There is not hardly a better, more rocking, spirit-rousing song than "Why can't we give love, give love, give love... dang, is this a Gospel song?)