Monday, March 27, 2017

Coming of Age: The Music That Moved Us

When I am silent, I fall into the place where everything is music. ~ Rumi

Both my forthcoming book THIS I KNOW and my current work-in-progress take place during the turbulent 1960's and 70's. One of my creative tricks has been to immerse myself into the setting by listening to music from that iconic era while I write. From Dylan to Baez to The Beatles to CSNY the music is not just about nostalgia, it represents a time when a nation of people pushed back against the wrongs of our government. Kind of like now. My novels are not political but change doesn't happen in a vacuum so my characters often find themselves brushing up against events of the day. For me, listening to the music is like slipping between the pages of Life Magazine during the civil rights movement, the Vietnam war and the counter-culture movement I missed by a few scant years. 

I've always considered myself a left-behind flower child. Kennedy was assassinated when I was just four years old. I was in the fourth grade when Woodstock happened. The Vietnam war had ended by the time I reached my teens. But that didn't stop me from knowing from a very young age that I was an idealist, a free spirit who just happened to have been born a few years too late to march with Dr. King, chant with Hare Krishnas or move to Haight-Ashbury to be with my tribe. Having grown up in a conservative Christian household, we weren't supposed to listen to rock-n-roll but of course we did. I did, anyway. I clearly remember being called upon by a history teacher having no idea of the question because I was (quite ironically) lost in the song, Drift Away playing on an earphone threaded from a small radio in my purse up the back of my blouse to my ear. 

Many of those utopian songs of freedom and change have etched themselves permanently into my being. Fortunately the music plays on and in my mind I'm there; dancing naked at an outdoor concert, placing flowers in rifles at Kent State, riding on the Marakesh Express to find truth and meaning from gurus draped in white sheets of wisdom. It would be difficult to pick a favorite but as I play though my lists on Pandora, a few songs reach me in places that send me back to that barefoot girl with a guitar on her back and bohemian dreams in her heart. Or like today, curled up with my coffee and a notepad as I plot my main character's next move and suddenly I'm rolling down the highway in a semi-truck, windshield wipers slappin' time as we pull into Salinas...

What about you? What song stands out from your coming-of-age years, when you thought every song was either written for you or about you?

#1960's #1970's #comingofage #counterculture #hippies #music