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In The Summertime

My lovely bride and I have now been married almost thirty-eight years and I would have to say that from my perspective (you can ask her about hers), the years have been good, wonderful in fact. However, God seems to have a unique sense of humor, as He’s put together two polar opposites when it comes to a number of our personality quirks and qualities. Julie’s friendly. I’m not. Julie’s sensitive. I’m not. Julie’s pretty. I’m not. Everyone loves Julie. I’m not. Anyway, the other day as we were driving down the road during our usual Saturday morning of running errands, she said something that not only could I not believe, but something that nearly broke my heart.

We were listening to music, at a volume more conducive to her listening preferences (I’ve resigned myself to the fact that not everyone enjoys listening to music at a decibel level approaching that of a Boeing 747 during takeoff), and when one particular song was finished I said, “Man. I can’t imagine what life would be like without music.” And then, while shrugging her shoulders, she said it: “I could take it or leave it.” I nearly drove off the road (since I nearly drive off the road regularly, it probably isn’t an apt exaggeration). Blasphemy of blasphemies! I said, “What?! Are you serious? You surely aren’t serious, are you?” She curled her lip in a defiant sneer and said, “I can live without it. It’s not a sin you know.” I said, “It might be,” and then went on and on trying to convince her of her blatant error in judgment.

Can you imagine life without music? I try, but it doesn’t compute. Does the word hell ring a bell? What would a high school dance be without music? Without music, you’d never get anyone out of the bleachers. What would church on Sunday morning be without music? Sorry preacher, it just wouldn’t be the same. Why, heaven is filled with music. Constantly and forever. What would it be like on a road trip from California to New York without music to alleviate the boredom? And I must say, without music a meadowlark would be just another pretty bird.

Music has the unique ability to come alongside you, no matter how you’re feeling or what mood you’re in. When you’re melancholy, it can commiserate with you. On the other hand, when you’re melancholy, it can make you smile again. When you’re joyful, it sings along with you. What would a wedding be without music? Or a funeral? Music has been a part of me since the earliest days of my life, thanks to my mother who often flitted about the house singing “Wake up Little Susie” and other popular tunes of the day.

Music is also the perfect time machine, much more effective than that imagined by H.G. Wells. Quite often, while listening to any number of songs, I’m transported to another place, another time. For example, if I hear Money by Pink Floyd, or School’s Out, or Chick-a-Boom, or Draggin’ the Line, I’m back at the Municipal Pool in Carthage, Missouri. I can smell the strong odor of chlorine and feel the warmth underneath me as I lie on the concrete and watch water drip from the end of my nose; temporarily catching my breath and drying off before returning to the refreshingly cool water on a hot summer day. I can hear the shouts and laughter, the sound of someone jumping off the diving boards and the corresponding splash as they enter the water. I can hear the shrill whistle blow as the lifeguard catches yet another kid acting up (me) or running when they should be walking (me again).

I could go on and on and list song after song and then tell you the story of where I’ve been transported to and who was there and what we were wearing and how much fun we were having, but I realize that would take a lot of time, yours and mine. So I’ll leave you with this one. Today, while driving to Indiana, I had the words of a song come into my head and I couldn’t remember the name of it, so I Googled a few lines and then punched it in on YouTube and played the song on my phone, which now Sync’s to my automobile stereo. Cool! The song was Keep the Customer Satisfied, by Simon and Garfunkel and I was immediately transported to my sister’s room and we were listening to Cecilia and The Boxer and dancing and singing and I had long hair. Here’s the video for your enjoyment. What a cool tune and I hadn’t heard it for years.

Well, when the song was finished, a number of other songs came up as options below it, and as I scrolled down the list I spotted the quintessential song of summer from the days of my youth. I just had to hear it. I insisted. This particular song, every time I hear it, makes me smile and sing, and of course takes me back to a wonderful time in my life. When I was twelve, and life was carefree and full of opportunities and wonderment and curiosity and puberty (actually I was a slow developer and puberty would come later; about the time the Bee Gees were mending their broken hearts). A time when I rode my bike everywhere I wanted to go, if I wanted to go. The song is titled In The Summertime by the one hit wonder, Mungo Jerry. Released in 1970, it is a classic tune and the video here is a treat to say the least. Check out the lamb chop sideburns and fro on the lead singer. Awesome!

I’m sorry honey. God made music for a reason and He knew we needed it to survive those long and tedious days so common to life here on earth. And to celebrate the days of joy and fun. And to keep us company on those long road trips to Missouri. I can hardly wait. Christopher, you may want to bring your earplugs.