There is a soundtrack to everyone’s life.
Whether you’re devastated or having the best day of your life, there is music that goes along with it. There are songs that we lean on, songs that help us get through the darkest hours or emphasize our brightest days. I can’t think of one instance where my mood wasn’t helped or worsened by music.
That was particularly true Saturday night, when I went to see Jars of Clay and Brandon Heath at the Carson Center.
I am not particularly religious, as anyone who knows me knows, but my mother was in town from New Jersey, and she loves Jars. I remember going down to our house by the beach, nearly an hour’s drive, and rolling down the windows while she listened to the CD over and over.
Needless to say, after a particularly long week, spending time away from my couch on a Saturday night seemed daunting. But I went. And even though I don’t know any song that Brandon Heath sang, the fun and the excitement radiated from the band and I couldn’t help but stand up and dance.
Concerts do that. It isn’t like listening to the radio where you can shut them off or turn it down. During a concert, the music is contained in the walls of a venue and radiate into you. You can’t help but enjoy it.
By the time Jars took the stage, I was feeling a little more energetic. They played old songs, and my mom and I danced. They played new songs, and instead of pretending to know the words I just swayed to the guitar. We sang along with “I’ll Fly Away,” an old spiritual that, no matter where you are and what your religious beliefs, you probably happen to know the words.
I have been to hundreds of concerts, and they always end with a bang. It’s about being loud and energetic and leaving the crowd wanting more. Then, lead singer Dan Haseltine came back on stage for his encore. When he did, he was only accompanied by two acoustic guitars.
Most music buffs will tell you, there are moments that happen (mostly live) that really reaffirm your belief in life. We spend a lot of time looking at bands from afar, monitoring the newest hits and what they wore to the latest awards show. That’s the definition of being a fan. But in concert, those bands are playing their music to us. Especially in a smaller venue like the Carson Center, the experience is so intimate that it’s almost like having your own private concert. For that two hours, they are singing to you and you only.
So as Haseltine sang the words to one of my favorite Jars of Clay songs, “Worlds Apart,” it was an existential experience. It was the same feeling I had watching Bruce Springsteen perform at Giants Stadium only a month after 9/11, or watching Toby Keith sing “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue” a month before American troops were sent to Iraq.
It was a five-minute, acoustically enhanced, moment of clarity.
And really, only music can do that. You listen to songs, and regardless of what the artist wrote them about, you connect them to your own life. Your heart can swell or break just with one line. There are thousands of people who used “Every Breath You Take” by The Police as their wedding song, when Sting really meant it about a stalker.
Music is how it connects to you. It has nothing to do with what it is intended to mean.
The words to “Worlds Apart” meant something different to everyone in that room on Saturday night. Some were thinking about religion. My mother was enjoying singing along to a song she has always listened to. Others may just have been enjoying the quite intensity of the song.
To me, it meant everything was going to be OK.
Contact Corianne Egan, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8652.