Rock and Roll Is Healing Music for My Soul
His song blasted on the radio like a Toronto thunderstorm. It was tense with humidity. Her voice sounded like beauty mixed with embers. The beginning strums on the guitar led to desperation and aloneness. It echoed my already heightened insecurity of what ‘home’ would now look like.
My first experience with rock and roll was in my family’s 1960 woody wagon. We headed to the Maritimes—it was the summer of 1969, and I was 12 years old. My dad put this plastic disc, with a big hole in the middle of it, on his 45-rpm record player. I had heard nothing like it before. It was as if something had shoved me into a new universe where only I could understand the language being spoken. The marriage of exciting and longing lyrics from the background singers — they were always making those gravelly sounds. You know, the sounds that make the goosebumps rise, and the hair on the back of a neck bolt upright. Dad looked at me just then. Those words didn’t need to be exchanged. He knew some higher power already possessed me, but it wasn’t by any god I could name. It was solely by the spirit within that song. It oozed out of the lyrics; it bled from every strum of the Fender Stratocaster.
Music has helped me since, to cope with the untimely loss of my father, because of advanced melanoma. Listening to the strains takes me from an intense, in-your face sense of loss to forbearance. Dad is never coming back — I was going to be OK, and I would make inroads despite the poignant reality.
Rock and roll allowed me to advance through the numbness that enveloped me when I felt woebegone… It taught me that hopelessness was a temporary state — it was something that could be beat, even if only for a compact spurt. It would only take a three-and-a-half-minute rhapsody and a Fender Stratocaster or two. Home will always be here if I can find the music.