Music Is My Other Language

thP7Z7MNNR  “Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.”― Maya Angelou 

I know how that feels.  When you don’t know why you are in physical pain, sometimes you have to dig deep inside your soul searching for solutions or just some method with which to cope. When we are dancing on the mountain tops, it’s easy to know what those feelings are. But when we are in the dirt of the fields or the slosh of rain, it may be harder to define. Sometimes what grows in those places are the absolute sounds of life and death—whether in the songs of hard-working people or the small pensive voice of a child.  And what emerges out of pain and joy is MUSIC—haunting or joyful; loud or soft; simple or complex. It can tell a story or carry you away on a note you’ll swear is part of Heaven’s angel choir.

I’ve heard some people don’t know about music.  How is that possible?  How can people not be able to sing? How can a human live in the world for even a short time and not hear the thousands of songs of the birds, the mating calls of the animals or the psithurism in the air. [1]  For me, music is felt not just heard.  Deep in the soul the notes make a sound that runs through my body.


Music is communication∼

A means of reaching deep into our inner beings∼

Healing us when we’re sick∼

Energizing us when we’re down∼

Uplifting our spirits∼

Wiping away our tears∼

Filling us with laughter∼

Music is inspiration∼

In a study about the effects of music on pain, I can confirm there is a correlation.

5 Ways Music Makes You Happy©

The idea that music can help alleviate pain is not surprising, since the right music can “soothe the soul.” Recently, researchers set out to investigate the effects of music on pain and depression in people diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a disorder distinguished by severe musculoskeletal pain, followed by fatigue, sleep and memory and mood issues. (The Alternative Daily©) [2]

The study regarding those diagnosed with FMS is very personal to me.  I live with that diagnosis and daily seek methods to ease the overall pain and the effects of fatigue and sleep interruptions. It took years before a doctor finally gave me the information that could provide me some answers. You don’t get over it but you can work within it.

Without even knowing why, years ago I discovered that listening to music made me happier and more serene.  Music plays constantly in my head—a hum often turns into singing words—a phrase or entire songs.  I just have to sing them—it’s like I have no choice.

Music has always been a part of my life.  I grew up in a home full of music…all kinds.

My mother sang in a gospel church group.     thN06QGA3H

My father loved cowboy & western music.    th64GCV245


They both loved Big Band Music.                     th43Y2H3RY


My mother was also a huge Frank Sinatra fan as well as the other “crooners” of that era. We listened to songs of the 30s, 40s, 50s as well as classical music. We heard those who sang what is called “The American Songbook” (defined as songs from the 20s to the 50s) backed by some of the best orchestras of our time–Glenn Miller, Bob Crosby, Ozzie Nelson, Les Brown, Guy Lombardi, Lawrence Welk, The Dorsey Brothers, Artie Shaw and more.

Some of my best arias were heard as I pumped the swing higher and higher for hours singing many songs I knew and some I just made up.  It seemed like it took my sister all day to return from school so we could play—I wiled away the hours singing.


My favorite one to sing was “I’ll Sail My Ship Alone” (1948) by Moon Mullican (click link)

I had been singing in church since I was a little girl.  The first chance to enroll in choir came in 4th grade, and I was delighted! As my voice developed I worked with the choir master learning harmonies and adding to my repertoire . A few years later I began singing with a teenage trio who traveled to churches around the geographic region. Singing was not only my hobby, my pleasure, my gift…I found it made me happy to sing. If the song was more sad or one with deep meaning, I discovered I could deliver that message to the audience as well.

And the music around my home never stopped. It was the early 1950s and my sister and I listened to all the music available on radio. We were so lucky to have many 78 rpm records later adding some 45s purchased from our pooled allowances. And then there were the 33 1/3 vinyls.

I must interject this: Did anyone else ever subscribe to the Colombia Record Club where they sent you a 33 1/3 vinyl record each month for a penny? Well, we did and learned if you didn’t reply to “do not want this month’s record,” you’d get it anyway. We kinda dreaded those days our daddy would come home with mail that was the size of a medium pizza box. That meant we were going to have to pay full price for the record because our “cancel this month’s order card” did not reach the company within the cancellation time. What a huge promotional moneymaker.

The music in the first half of the ’50s was the light-hearted lyrics reflecting the Post WWII Era. Some of the singers hitting the charts had been singing since the 30s & 40s, such as the Ink Spots, Ella Fitzgerald and Bing Crosby.  Joining those were new voices singing new tempos, lyrics and beats. A few were: The Crew Cuts, Guy Mitchell, Gale Storm, Four Lads, Dean Martin, Joni James, The Platters, Gogi Grant, Patti Paige, Dinah Shore, Rosemary Clooney, and Perry Como—and all considered “parent friendly.”


Some songs of the early 50s that would later be called “country” were immersed into the pop radio stations as well. There were the great story songs from Johnny Cash, Marty Robbins, Conway Twitty, The Browns, Ernest Tubb, Hank Williams, Johnny Horton, and Eddy Arnold.

By the mid 50s, however, the sounds were changing as younger performers were trying to grab up the expanding youth market appealing directly to young people with money of their own to spend. Yet, all that “white American complacency” could not hold back the vitality of Black R&B music, so a whole new sound emerged—Rock and Roll.


In the South, where Country and Western had ruled the charts, Sam Phillips (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, 1986) opened the Memphis Recording Service – the first place a black musician could go to record. Phillips’ motto was “We Record Anything, Anywhere, Anytime.” [2]


Cracks in the dam broke loose during the summer of 1953 when Elvis Presley came to the Memphis Recording Service to make a record, ostensibly for his mother’s birthday, but with hope of being discovered. In this initial session Elvis recorded “My Happiness” and “That’s When Your Heartaches Begin.”[2]

thQZS0SUXOSoon the youth declared Mom & Dad’s music wasn’t “cool, Daddy O.”

Another movement in musical style was when the airways of the 50s became filled with harmonies of new groups capitalizing on those smooth sounding groups of the 30s & 40s. The listener now could sing along high or low or in between. The great harmonies were a favorite of mine. I had heard music all my life that moves along closely above, below and between the standard note.Music Notes in Circle

It would be when I was away from home visiting friends that I first began listening to the Rock ‘n Roll of the 50s & 60s–Elvis, The Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, Jackie Wilson, Bobby Rydell, Jimmy Clanton, Bobby Darrin, The Diamonds on my friend’s portable record player.  Soon my sister & I would purchase the 45 rpm records (and the insert to play on a standard spindle).  Some of those music makers came and went; others with true talents moved through the decades such as Paul Anka, Bobby Vinton, Elvis, B. J. Thomas, the Platters.

blues musicBecause black R&B groups now had the privilege of being played on radios and appearing on Dick Clark’s Bandstand, more and more performers echoed our thoughts. The likes of Chubby Checkers, Ronettes, Supremes, Coasters, Sam Cooke, Shirelles, Chuck Berry, Hank Ballard, Otis Redding were among those who gave us music to which we could move, dance and sing along.  It was the beat…always about the beat…pulsating and destroying the old safety nets with a virile, passionate new sound. Kitschy as the words may be, we enjoyed singing lyrics like “take out the papers and the trash,” “like a long neck goose” “He’s a clown that Charley Brown” or “Shimmy, Shimmy, Ko Ko Bop.”

If you want to revisit the 50s, here is a great link to that era:

In the early 60s, I was enthralled with the music and chance to dance & sway to it.  In my Texas school, every Friday night we kicked off our black flats and penny loafers so as to not scratch the gym floor and danced the night away (you wanted to make sure your socks were fashionable & clean).  There was a song just for this phenomenon: Danny & the Juniors released “At the Hop” in 1957. But it was a more romantic song that closed every Friday’s Last Dance–Johnny Mathis’ “Chances Are.” I fell in love every Friday night to that song.

Close your eyes and let’s go back to the sock hop

By the mid 60s music was changing forever because of the social battles and protests from people my age. The turmoil came to us daily in the headlines and from our televisions. It wasn’t long before I began to listen to the pop songs that would lead us through one of the most challenging & controversial decades—my coming of age decade.  


Lyrics became arrows shot toward enemies–perceived enemies–who may never have been so in another time and place.  Death and hate filled our newspapers and our television sets. The world changed our minds, our country and seemed the music would be forever dissonant.  While I always knew music was important to me and those around me, I began to realize it was a manner of speaking desires, expressing your emotions, protesting events, resulting in a manner in which what we do with music often becomes a part of who we are and who we become.

5 Ways Music Makes You Happy© further states:

What is really telling about this research is that we’re built to identify with the music and the songs we listen to — whether uplifting or sad. Music is extremely influential. So it stands to reason that through positive music, you can create a happier and more fulfilling life. (The Alternative Daily©) [2]

Can it be argued that music is a picture of who we are with our good feelings and positive sentiments contrasting  with how we express our ill will and hate? Some say it has become that in this 21st century.  Because music is such a blessing to me and so important to my well being, I just choose to listen to what makes me serene or contemplative. That was true in  the 60s 70s 80s 90s and still today.  I trend more to the melodic or less violent lyrics or even the softer instrumental arrangements. I’m fully aware music expresses the story of love, the story of struggle, the hopes and dreams, and the joy of living. I don’t need words of hate and distress in my life, so I choose to let the notes float to me on waves of beauty.


When I study the paths my life has taken, I don’t regret but hopefully learn there are some things that should remain. Music is one of the essentials which should remain in my life. When a note, be it an instrument or the human voice is formed, it should be used for the good of ourselves or others.

Through it all there was the gospel and religious music.  I learned those notes and words listening to my mother practice in church.  I sang along with my daddy to the radio while we traveled in his truck. I sang along with my grandmother while she played the piano, and she taught me the harmony notes. My sister and I both lent our voices to our churches for years.

And this is why:


When was the first time I sang? My family tells me it was long before I could pronounce the words. But it didn’t stop there! Soon I began dancing to the music that we would play on our record player (Dinah Shore’s Button & Bows was one of my routines). I never was afraid of being in front of people, so singing to audiences was a normal part of my life.  I’m not sure if such confidence was a part of my personality or simply part of wanting to hear & sing all the music I could find. And I still do!


Learning is one of my favorite hobbies. So that means if I hear some music I enjoy, I must research it and discover who wrote it, who performed it, what year it was introduced, etc. In the midst of that research, I find other music and musicians and introduce them into my music library thus making it a living/changing tribute.

In these years of electronic advancement, I’m delighted for programs such as Pandora so I don’t have to carry around CDs, casettes or 8-tracks.     I just plug in my phone and let the notes lead me down the road.

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[1] Definition: psithurism (sith-err-iz-um). (rustling whispers
of the trees on a windy day). We can’t see wind, only the things
it moves. Likewise, we can’t hear wind unless it’s flowing past
something that makes it vibrate; this causes it to adopt
various sonic guises depending on what it interacts with.
5 Ways Music Makes You Happy ©The Alternative Daily 2019
[3] Copyright 1996-2020. Michael Rich. All rights reserved. 
WWW.FIFTIESWEB.COM is a creation of RichWeb and is not endorsed or 
sponsored by or affiliated with any of the products, services,
programs, celebrities or entities mentioned herein


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About Van Hess

Traveler ~ Writer ~ Dreamer Across the Web I blog at "New Journeys On Old Roads" Follow me on Twitter @VanHessTXred

One response to “Music Is My Other Language”

  1. Kathy DeVries says :

    Hello Vaness, you made my day. Thank you

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