Music provides relief from life

By Clyde Davis: CNJ columnist

I doubt that I am the only person in town who is eagerly awaiting the release of the movie, “Mama Mia,” the ABBA-based musical.

In fact, by the time you read this, it will have been released, and if I can get a ticket, I will have seen it. (No, it is not the story of ABBA, just based on their music.)

I admit it. I like feel good music, and ABBA, at least the major hits, fit squarely in that category. I especially like feel-good music at times in my life when challenges are coming down the road at a rapid rate. The past several weeks, I have felt like I am trying to cross a dark, rainy, slick highway with streams of headlights coming from both directions.

This has led me to focus my Sirius satellite receiver on three stations, perhaps four. The temporary ABBA station, set up to publicize the musical, the reggae station, the Margaritaville band, and prime country, the music Janice and I fell in love to, and still prefer to dance to.

It has led me, conversely, to not focus on one of my usual favorites, the E Street radio band, which is dedicated to the music of Bruce Springsteen. The Boss’s dark, brooding images and outsider protagonists, such as The Magic Rat (“Jungleland”) and Hazy Davy and Crazy Janie (“Spirits in the Night”) are way too close to my internal world, at this particular time. I’d much rather sway back and forth to “Dancing Queen” or bounce to “Super Trooper.”

It isn’t just this temporary station, which I fear will be gone soon, it’s the Christmas channel during December, etc. I have to confess to liking other feel-good music — Barry Manilow, for example. It has long been my wish to get up to Vegas in order to hear him. Yeah, some of his songs are depressing, but they are depressing in a contrived way that has the opposite effect. I mean, can you really listen to “Mandy” and feel down? Anyway, the guy is such a masterful musician.

Music therapy is not a career I ever thought about going into — I cannot read a note and I am tone deaf to top it all off. OK, you know that fat kid in your elementary school music class who sat in the back of the class and cracked jokes and threw spitballs? Well, that was me.

However, I do know what music therapy works for me. In my normal upbeat state, I can handle different types and styles, especially from old favorites like the Boss or Waylon Jennings. But in the current space, I can’t hear of “Lonesoime, Ornery and Mean” or “Your Hometown” without internalizing every bit of shadow contained therein.

What about you? What is your music therapy?

Clyde Davis is pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Portales and a college instructor. He can be contacted at: