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A Voice Appears

July, 2019

Collage of Kristi Nelson Quote by Martha Clark Scala

A Song Can Make the Glass Half-Full Again

I really didn’t see this one coming.

I laid, in solitude and sweat, on the top tier of benches in the women’s sauna at my local Y. The men’s sauna, right next door, seemed awfully quiet. I assumed it was empty because it’s much more common to hear lively discussions on the other side of our shared wall.

And then it happened . . .

A soulful male voice started singing the familiar lyrics to “House of the Rising Sun.”

I grinned, and as I continued to listen, I found myself whisper-singing along with the fellow in the men’s sauna. This brief moment brightened my mood, instantly. (And no, he didn’t keep singing. His “concert” was one-and-done.)

The song, itself, is kind of a downer. It’s sung in a minor key, and “House of the Rising Sun” is supposedly a euphemism for a brothel. Online, I found all kinds of fun facts about the song, including different theories about what the lyrics actually mean. There was no question, however, that the song’s dramatic rise in popularity was due to the arrangement recorded by rock group, The Animals, in 1964.

Ah, 1964. My mood shifted, even though the lyrics are kind of bleak, because the song brought me back to a different era. The words may offer a cautionary warning about the perils of gambling, drinking and other addictions, but the memories linked to that song, and that time of my life, were golden.

In ’64, I was only 8 years old. I played every 45rpm record that my sister Margo purchased over and over and over again. Yup, I was hooked on rock n’ roll. Family life hadn’t gotten too complicated, yet. And even though our country was still mourning the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, worries about the state of the world weren’t as loud, at least in my household, as they are now.

What songs do this for you? They may take you back to an easier or more innocent time of your life? Do they make you want to get up and dance? Do they bring a quiet yet joyful grin?

What would be your most reliable playlist for music that brings you into a state of more joy, appreciation or hope? If you already have one, how often do you play it?

Troubling times (I don’t think I need to list the current worries that most people share right now) call for reliable strategies. Maybe it’s time to start singing out loud? You’ve no doubt seen the videos of how people respond when a Flashmob performance takes place.

If you’re too bashful to sing in public, maybe it’s time to find or create that playlist of your favorites and tune in.

Shoot for a variety of music in your playlist because it’s hard to predict which particular song, on any given day, will be the perfect salve. Some days, it’s “Pomp and Circumstance” (the graduation march) or the “March of the Lions” (in Saint-Saens’ "Carnival of the Animals") or Ravel’s “Bolero” for me. Other days, it’s got to be some of the classics by The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, or Elton John. Madonna singing “Vogue.” I guess it won’t surprise you that the “House of the Rising Sun” is on replay right now, as I type these words.

I send out a gigantic thank you to my man-in-the-sauna. He lifted my spirits and he also gave me something to write about when ideas for this month’s blog topic were eluding me. I sure do love surprises.

Surprise your spirits with some tunes today.

Comments on this blog post are welcome — see the bottom of this page.


Prompts For Joy

Click here for an elevator surprise that might give you a song for your playlist!

Click here . . . because doesn't every playlist need a dose of Aretha Franklin?

Click here for all previous Prompts for Joy.



Front Cover of Assembling a Life by Martha Clark Scala

Find out what others are saying about my recently published memoir, Assembling a Life: Claiming the Artist in My Father (and Myself), by clicking here.

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Pictured Above

A quote that begged to become a collage.

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