Every now and then it happens. Song lyrics float across our auditory neurons and pretty soon we are singing, swaying and smiling. As they used to say on American Bandstand, “I give it a 95 because it has a good beat and is easy to dance to.” And that is a good summation if one dances. I don’t. Nope. I am the musical connoisseur who defaults right to the lyric. Perhaps it is the writer in me, but I’ve gotta know what the folks are saying. If the rapping, yapping, tapping, dabbing slops over the lyrics, I’m gone. Am I willing to give it a second chance? Oh sure. My musical repertoire is quite eclectic. I bounce around from Frank Sinatra to Bruno Mars, Selah, off to Adele, Journey and Tony Bennett and twirl back around to John Mayer with a touch of Johnny Swim. Twist my arm and I may listen to country, but it really needs to be a crossover like Carrie Underwood. Okay, open the door for Dolly and Reba and a few measures from Glen Campbell.
Enough on the ‘Life and Times of Deb Hall’s Music Collection’. I will move on to the real thinking behind, ‘Lyrics to Live By’. Once upon a time I heard a song, ‘Forever Young’ recorded by Rod Stewart. In an instant, I felt that this work should be in every church hymnal. And I know that this view is substantiated by the fact that I used this song in many classroom musical/video presentations. Why? Because in a teacher’s eyes and heart, that kid is ‘forever young’ as they kind of remain a permanent third grader, sixth grader, or whatever ‘grader’ they are when they steal our hearts. It’s how we are wired. The gal with whom I am now Facebook friends may have a husband and three kids, but to me she remains little Lisa, third row, class of 1986. See? Forever young.
The lyric that has captured my heart and soul is the tune recorded by Meghan Trainor and John Legend, ‘Like I’m Gonna Lose You’. It has a swell sound and catchy beat if you are prone to power up your boogie shoes. But the words! The words take on a life of their own and remind us to own our life. Let me help you here. The gist of the tune is to love someone like you might lose them. Pretty simple, right? Morbid…..no. Yet the lyricist begs us to savor the moment with those we love. Here’s a taste:
So I’m gonna love you
Like I’m gonna lose you
I’m gonna hold you
Like I’m saying goodbye
Wherever we’re standin’
I won’t take you for granted
Cause we’ll never know when
We’ll run out of time
So I’m gonna love you
Like I’m gonna lose you
In the blink of an eye
Just a whisper of smoke
You could lose everything
The truth is you never know
So I’ll kiss you longer
Any chance that I get
I’ll make the most of the minutes
And love with no regrets
Let’s take our time
To say what we want
Use what we got
Before it’s all gone
‘Cause no, we’re not promised tomorrow
Is it not a universal fear that we may lose those folks we cherish? Haven’t all our journeys been overshadowed by making mistakes, messing up, and creating a rubble of regrets? This song, with its edgy and funky riffs delivers a classic statement: I am loving you with the passion and urgency as if it were our last moment on Earth. Because it very will might be.
I remember an old Richard Marx song that had this line: “If the angels call tomorrow there is nothing that we haven’t said.” Can’t say I remember much else about that recording, but man, that one line has framed my life. It prodded me to put the silly note in my kids’ lunch boxes, make the phone call to apologize, or scrawl a love note on the mirror in bright red lipstick. Never let the good stuff go unsaid. Indeed, I often say that when I enter Heaven I want to have empty pockets….that I saved no love, compassion, kind words, good deeds, talents; that I am all used up.
I admit that this song truly time-stamps my heart. My son is a cop. My sister is in hospice care. My oldest granddaughter will soon be driving, and I have a new grandchild arriving any day now. When my youngest son calls me as he walks from the subway in New York, I shudder at the cacophony of the urban chaos. When the media reports that a youth suffered “fatal wounds” I whisper a prayer before I read the name. The truth is this: our worlds can change in one phone call.
Yet I don’t want my words here to mar an affirming song and darken it with worry and the ‘what-ifs’. I am way too joyous and hopeful for that stance. Rather, I share a philosophy that simply reminds us to stay in the moment, cherish that boy behind the badge; rock that baby a bit longer and smile because, as Carl Sandburg wrote, “A new baby is God’s opinion that the world should go on.”
Trust that we never run out of time for kisses and hugs, and when love-filled words are on our lips, we let them go with wild abandon. Love. Now. Say it. Now. Forgive. Now. Savor it. Now.
“If the angels call tomorrow, there is nothing that we hadn’t said.”
And now….I am going to love you, like I just might lose you.
Because there is no better way to say hello or good-bye than with words laced in love.