Violet and gold Fender Stratocaster

My life has a soundtrack. The songs I grew up with, the ones I learned to sing along with, and the ones that have given expression to my unspoken thoughts and feelings. Welcome to My Musical Life, Side 1, Track 1.

I am sure you know what I mean. Certain songs stay with you forever, intertwined with our thoughts, emotions, and our perception of ourselves. Music impacts us in ways that nothing else can. No other sound can do the same. Want evidence? Nobody ever stops mid conversation to wistfully say, “Listen—they’re playing our traffic noise!”. You also aren’t likely to be startled by the sound of a saw at Home Depot and be instantly transported to the memory of your first kiss. If you are like most people, running the garbage disposal probably doesn’t trigger nostalgic memories of the first time you performed on stage.

Except in my case. There I was, about 6 years old, innocently playing a shepherd in our church Christmas nativity play. My role was to approach the center of the stage where the microphone was, grab the arm of a fellow actor there and say “Come on, we have a long way to go”, then exit stage left.

So, suffering from terrible stage fright, I trembled my way to center front, grabbed the designated actor’s arm and started walking off. Reaching the edge of the stage, I suddenly remembered to my horror that I hadn’t said my line.

The turning point

Knowing that I would never sign a major agent if I blew my first major on-stage public appearance, I decided to drag my protesting fellow castmate back to center stage, and the microphone. I then interrupted the scene that had followed my exit by stopping in front of the microphone and proclaiming my assigned line WAY too loudly, setting off a loud chorus of unintended laughter from the audience. Fervently wishing the Angel of the Lord would stop announcing the birth of Jesus long enough to smite me into nonexistence, I retreated stage left once again, still in possession of an arm which wasn’t mine. So yeah, garbage disposal.

In any case, my point is valid. Music has an impact that nothing else can.

Numero uno

With your indulgence, I would like to periodically share a song from my life and how it plays a part in my present day. In the future I intend to pull other tracks out of my… back pocket… and share those as well. Since I don’t hear any objections, and because this is my blog and you really don’t have a say in what I write, I will proceed.

As a preface to this proposed series on songs that have influenced me, let me say this. As with any music, or any art for that matter, we all experience it differently. Any meaning attached to it is determined by how you interpret it, where you were in your life when you first experience it, whether you were sober, falling from an airplane, getting chased by a beaver, or whatever (You bring your life experiences, I’ll bring mine).

How we understand it and what it means to us may be totally different from the person who created it or the person sitting next to us, and that’s okay. I am only sharing my take on one song. Your mileage may vary. And yes, I am aware I will be dating myself with all of these. I’m not worried about ruining my reputation, as I’m not that great of a date anyway.

Side 1, Track 1

I Still Believe, The Call, 1989. To this day I think The Call was/is underrated. They had a great sound and meaningful things to say. Another song of theirs, Let The Day Begin, will also probably make this list at some point. You might not have heard of them, but Rolling Stone once reviewed the band with these words; “This critically acclaimed band counts Peter Gabriel, Robbie Robertson, and Jim Kerr among it’s biggest fans. So what are you waiting for? This is a Call well worth heeding.”

It’s rough out there

Here is a revelation: life is hard. It takes a lot out of us and the frenzy of trying to “accomplish it all” can drain our mental and emotional resources. Trying to do it all or have it all can obscure our vision of what we are doing and why. Even worse, it can blur our connection to who we are and what motivates us.

I’m flat on my back out at sea
Hopin’ these waves don’t cover me
I’m turned and tossed upon the waves
When the darkness comes I feel the grave
But I still believe, I still believe
Through the cold and through the heat
Through the rain and through the tears
Through the crowds and through the cheers
Oh, I still believe…

…For people like us, in places like this
We need all the hope that we can get
Oh, I still believe.

-Michael Been

Okay, I realize this song may mean nothing to you. You may never have heard it. You’re probably wondering why I am sharing this in a blog supposedly about voice-over. More realistically, you are probably wondering if you can get the past few minutes of your life back if you dedicate yourself to rescuing lost puppies. The hard truth? No.

Why?

Three reasons. First, it is a slice of who I am, and it is cathartic to open myself up and share who I am with you.

Secondly, when you listen to this song, you will know that songwriter and lead singer Michael Been feels every word. When he belts out the chorus, he radiates anguish, determination and triumph all at the same time. His emotion triggers my emotion. When I sing along—and I can’t choose not to sing along—I remember and reaffirm to myself that no matter what happens, the things I believe in remain unshakable. This includes who I am as a voice actor and what I know I can do. That moment powerfully connects me with the conviction I have that I can succeed in this business, among other things.

Thirdly, I am conducting a secret sociological study on just how much meaningless drivel people will read without any measurable benefit to themselves. Smile for the camera.

Being weak

Am I weak because I need moments of affirmation to keep me going? Yes! Are you shocked to have me say that? It isn’t a shame to have times of weakness or discouragement. The measure of your character, and how much you really want what you are pursuing lies in what you do next.

I am not ashamed to say I need occasional reminders to reconnect me with who I am at the core of me, and why. It is healing to take a few minutes to allow my heart to belt out my personal truth to the universe loud enough that my head can’t ignore it. Unfortunately, life seldom offers pick-me-ups when we need them. Music is something I can control that can give me a boost when I need it.

Question of the day

Do you have a song that reconnects you with your convictions and gives you courage and confidence? Is there something non-music related that does the same thing for you? Please share in the comments below.

I would also love it if you would take a moment to comment, even if you cling to the hopeless belief that rescuing puppies will restore time frivolously frittered away, or even if you hated this blog because you think all music from the ‘80’s is from the devil. Either way, responding helps your SEO and mine.

And this week only, for every new subscriber I will offer a half-hearted prayer that the Angel of the Lord will not smite you into nonexistence. Bonus!

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14 Responses

  1. Cracklin Rose…Neil Diamond
    That song takes me back to a time of backyard dance parties, Dr. Don Rose on KFRC, and innocence. That last thing is something I cherish, but feel we have lost as a society long, long ago.
    Great blog Jon! It was nice to get into your head, move the dust bunnies aside and see a bit of you we don’t know! Seriously though… you almost forgot your line? Oh your mother’s horror!

    • Thanks for reading, Paul. I am almost embarrassed to admit that I liked Neil Diamond as well as Gordon Lightfoot. Both of their voices are in my range and the tunes were so catchy! And speaking of innocence lost, as you might imagine, my mother never spoke to me again.

    • I must admit I am a bit embarrassed. You weren’t supposed to see the dust bunnies. I thought I had swept them all under the rug. *sigh*

  2. LOL, smite you into non-existence! That’s so funny! The irony is, at about the same age, I was also a shepherd. I had no lines and my staff was a type of cane from Africa. It was a kinda of bring your own shepherding paraphernalia kinda vibe, kinda, hehe.

    I do recall the band, but not the specific song. For me though, because I love singing so much, there have MANY songs over the years that have gotten to me in a big way. One of the more simple songs is supposed to be a gospel song, but it’s REALLY vague and literally called: “You’re gonna be okay”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LjF9IqvXDjY

    One that tends to get me a bit more fired up is The Dream by David Phelps. I feel so, triumphant when I sing that! Love it!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YI8Ya9Qn3C4

    And one that’s just plain fun is the Raon Lee feat PelleK version of Naruto’s 3rd opening – VERY hard, but so fun!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=alD1C1Dmel0

    That puts me at track 3 I guess, hehehe.

  3. Sorry, but your assessment is incorrect. My first kiss WAS set to the sound of a saw…when my girlfriend and I were being terrorized by that man in the hockey mask while were in the basement of that one abandoned shed where all the lights were out and we had no weapons. Moving briskly past the sheer terror of that memory, I am SO glad you were not smitten out of existence, and I DID get the subtle laugh you tried to slip past all of us by pulling songs out of your…back pocket. HA! Gotta get up earlier in the morning than that, good sir. Wait – I forgot – you are most certainly NOT good, because you have most certainly stolen a phrase I have always wanted to use in one of my blogs: “frivolously frittered.” Curse you. I will pray my own prayer of vengeance towards you before you pray your prayer of deliverance for me. Sound good? Anyway, thank you SO much for the meaningless drivel! CHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESE!!!! *click*

    • Thank you for testifying to the fact that I used frivolously frittered first, and hence own it for all internet use in perpetuity. If you wish to use it in the future, call me and we will talk terms. Thank you also once again for reading my blog and and for replying in like-minded meaningless drivel. I know I can always count on you!

      Despite the fact that you publicly shamed me by pointing out my error, I am glad that you did not die when being assailed by a chain saw wielding, hockey mask wearing malcontent. I hate it when that happens.

      I am not concerned about your prayers for vengeance. Since I began praying (albeit half-heartedly) far before you read this article, I can only assume I have the advantage. If not, I am sure our competing prayers would have collided in transit, cancelling each other out like offsetting penalties in football.

      Nice photo.

  4. Oh yeah! Forgot.

    “Death Where is Your Sting” by Cory Asbury
    “Always Something There To Remind Me” – Naked Eyes
    “Fire” by Gavin DeGraw”
    “A View To A Kill” by Duran Duran
    “Beat It” by Michael Jackson
    “Thriller” by Michael Jackson
    “Bad” by Michael Jackson
    “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson
    “Smooth Criminal” by Michael Jackson
    ANYTHING by Michael Jackson

  5. Meaningless drivel perhaps, but anything that stirs the mind or heart can’t be all bad. 😃

    Gotta think on the song. I used to be a mobile DJ, so there’s a lot of music banging around in my head.

    • Thanks for reading! I wait with baited breath to see which song(s) you come up with. And please disregard the strange stench in here. I’ve never figured out how to get rid of the bait smell in my breath once it sets in. I think I may go see if bourbon works.

  6. Music is everything! You are so right Jon. Nothing evokes a memory like a great song. Fern Kinney and Groove me is one of those songs for me. It just takes me to such a happy place.

    • I listened to this one after your comment. I don’t remember hearing it before, but it does have a groove! Listening to that spun me off on a tangent of listening to ’70’s soul music that I remember and love: Marvin Gaye, Aretha, The Commodores, Stevie Wonder, Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes, The O’Jays… an unexpected, wonderful side trip. I think my list of songs for future posts just got longer!

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