This morning I awoke from a dream in which I was roller skating. I wasn’t ten in this dream, I was fifty, and I was happy, really really happy. Then I opened my eyes and remembered all the things that we are all facing together right now, and felt a tinge of anxiety and an increased heart rate. Before I write anything else, I feel compelled to say that I am not writing on behalf of any organization, not my business partners, nor my family. I’m simply doing the two things that I can do today that give me a bit of peace of mind–listening to music and writing about life–and hoping I might give you a little peace as well. When my daughter woke up this morning, I told her about my dream, and that I was fighting an urge to order a pair of roller skates online. She reminded me that I have little to no cartilage left in my knees and three herniated discs in my back. She said she would feel more comfortable about my health and well being if I would not make that purchase. I am grateful that she is thinking about my health. Most of us don’t think about others’ health nearly as often as we should. I hope this experience we are all living through together will encourage us to continue to think about how we affect humanity in our daily lives after we have moved past this pandemic. In the past few days, I’ve watched and made small contributions to several livestream concerts, bought two albums online, and donated to The Food Bank. All of these actions were my modest efforts to support the people in my own personal life who are being hit hard right now. This week, we have all become more conscientious about our next paycheck, and some of us may not get one next week or next month. So if you can give a little to an organization that will help someone in need right now, I wish you would, and if you can’t, I wish you well. We’ve all got to do what we can to support those in our lives that we know are currently the most affected by this unprecedented situation, because it is so undeniably, irrefutably true, we are all in this together. But really, aren’t we always all in this together? Many of us are continuing to go to work every day to provide life-sustaining necessities, and all the things we expect to be there for us whenever we need them–healthcare, food, medication, public safety, transportation, public utilities, journalism. Those folks are seeing repetitive social media messages from others of us who are complaining about the challenges of working and learning from home. Please remember that not all of us have the luxury of home computers and home internet access at this time when school and work are online, as libraries and community centers are closed. If you are reading this today, you, like me, are among the more fortunate. I’m going to do my best to be gracious and grateful for what I have and more appreciative of those of us who do the important work of keeping all of us healthy. So, I’m going to ask this of you, if you are like me, and can stay at home for a few weeks, please do so. And, please think about how you might help someone less fortunate today, even if you cannot assist financially. We can all call someone who is alone and make their day, and probably yours too. So, right about now, if you’re still reading this, you’re probably trying to follow where my scattered thoughts are going and asking yourself, ‘why is this woman with no training in public health or public policy writing about these things she’s not qualified to talk about?’ That’s a very reasonable and rational thought. I’m getting to that…
My business partners and I had planned to host a celebratory event two days ago, to announce the lineup for our live music festival, scheduled for October. Tonight, I had planned to celebrate my favorite decade of music by hosting a dance party in my hometown. But because we cannot gather together in person right now, those events were cancelled. The industry that supports my daughter and me is currently on hold. We are fortunate, the event that our lives depend upon takes place nearly seven months from now. Many of my friends and colleagues, fellow small business owners and self-employed individuals are facing significant hardships right now. You may be thinking that entertainment is not all that important right now, and I can understand why you might feel that way. But every aspect of our economy affects every other, and the arts give us something that is intangible, something that sustains us in a way that is vital to our well-being. Music provides an outlet for human emotion, and a vessel to fulfill our need for human interaction. Throughout my daughter’s life, whenever we’ve faced tough times, I’ve always reassured her that as long as we have hope, we would get through whatever obstacles we’ve faced. With hope, we have always had the necessary tool to overcome everything. The thing that gives me hope is music. My daughter’s smile is the only thing in this world that brings me more joy than music. Today, I want to give you some hope and some joy in the only way I know how to do that. So that’s why I’m writing and sharing this Note from the Listening Gallery on March 21, 2020. This week, one of my daughter’s college assignments was watching the 1994 film, The Shawshank Redemption. This very timely exchange of dialogue says what I’m trying to say in a a far more compelling manner:
“Andy Dufresne: ‘That’s the beauty of music. They can’t get that from you…haven’t you ever felt that way about music?’
Red: ‘I played a mean harmonica as a younger man. Lost interest in it though. Didn’t make much sense in here.’
Andy: ‘Here’s where it makes the most sense. You need it so you don’t forget.’
Andy: ‘Forget that…there are places in this world that aren’t made out of stone. That there’s something inside…that they can’t get to, that they can’t touch. That’s yours.’
Red: ‘What’re you talking about?’
Tonight I was going to celebrate the advent of spring with a multi-genre 70s dance party, a joyful reunion with many of my family members and childhood friends. The first piece of news I chose to read today was not about covid 19, it was about Kenny Rogers. So, instead of hosting a live, all-genre 70s dance party today, I’m sharing a sweet 70s country playlist that includes 100 of my favorite country songs from my childhood years. So, tonight, you can listen in your home, with your kids, and no matter where you grew up, you can tell them about how Kenny Rogers knew when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em. And, if you grew up with me in Linn or Chariton County, Missouri, and were planning to hang with me tonight, you can probably tell your kids about how you learned to dance from watching your Grandpa spin your Grandma around the floor at Buck Cody’s Country Music Jamboree on Saturday nights. And tell them about the time when Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton performed at Buck Cody’s in 1972. Tell them about the time when Sylvia played a concert at our high school gym in 1981. Tell them about how Tommy and Elizabeth Stanley were our cultural curators throughout our childhoods, as we spent countless hours of pure bliss at Topp Cats Roller Rink together. Tell them how you can still feel the muscle memory of the pivot in your feet when Rhiannon or Private Eyes come over the airwaves on the oldies station in your car. Then, turn up the volume on your phone or your computer or your digital speaker and dance around your living room with your kids as you listen to this: Sail away and dream of how our life will someday be.