Music was in the air on the day I was born. Upon my first burst of breath the back-beat of a drum pounded as my heart. The riffs and chords of an entire soul-nation were inherited to me and music coursed through my veins. I was not born in just any city or state, I was born in Michigan, just outside of Detroit rock city. Oh you know, you knoooow, that music is our backbone. It is our soul. Michigan and music go hand in hand- it is our thing.
Dance parties exploded in our basement with each revolution of the vinyl record. My mother was a dancer. She had calves that pulsed with each toe spin. She had eyes that laughed as she dipped her arms low and snapped. Her real love-language is music. And she made sure that my brother and I spoke her language, too.
My favorite songs when I was little were, It’s The Same Old Song by the Four Tops and Where Did Our Love go by the Supremes. I would sing these songs into a wide black brush sashaying past my mirror with my pony tail bobbing in time. I can still see in my mind’s eye the young girl who hung on every word of each line. How the beats made me snap my fingers in time. How the words rolled off my lips. The innocence of this music and of my childhood can be defined in the lyrics. Some words were rich in ambiguity other lyrics clear as a blue sky day. They were palpable. They were current. They are ever-lasting.
And on the last day of class for the school year, the minute that my brother and I walked in the door our mom would put Alice Cooper on the record player and we would belt at the top of our lungs “Well we got no choice all the girls and the boys makin all that noise ‘Cause they found new toys- well we can’t salute ya can’t find a flag if that don’t suit ya that’s a drag- SCHOOLS OUT FOR SUMMER, SCHOOLS OUT FOREVER, SCHOOLS BEEN BLOWN TO PIECES…” It is and was our thing.
Each note from the constantly played 12 inch dark circles; imprinted on to my heart-record. And I’ve played the songs of my youth over and over again in my mind. My mom brought me up to respect our soul-full heritage. She raised me to enjoy our distinctive melodies, riffs, chords, and time. I grew up to the tunes of Motown. I grew up on Alice Cooper and Ted Nugent. I grew up on this music that came from our city- our people- our heart. It has infused with my heart.
“Spin the dark circle, mama” I hear. Music is intergenerational you know. And our record player; it is a time machine. I rotate in some Temptations and instantly we are soothed with David Ruffin’s first line from “My girl” and then move the record back in to the cardboard album just so we can sink ourselves in a Smoky-smooth 45 singing Tears from a Clown. Once I hear the pop and crackle I jump up and put the needle in a Diana Ross record that I’ve adored my entire life. Every single groove tells a story.
To be immersed into music- it is an entire experience. We are emotionally attached to these songs that make the soundtrack our lives. We toy with the flirtation that the beats make. We sing along with our whole beings. These lyrics are our language. The songs, the beats, the culture, the stories- Music is always in the air. My boys are being raised on music like I was raised on music like you were raised on music- like we all were raised on music. It is part of our humanity.
It is our thing.