When Music Saves Your Life
I grew up in the dark areas of Chicago. First, there was the Westside, then the Henry Horner projects, and finally, the South Side. I should have ended up a $7 crack whore with a hundred kids in foster care. I did not. Music often made a difference when I was heading off in the wrong direction.
Music guided me whenever I was down, making me feel I was not alone. Music inspired me to do what needed to be done when I was up, bolstering my mental game and making me think.
The key was that I was not the only person that life dealt a blow to…there were others. Some of those others wrote and sang songs about their troubles. The lyrics spoke to me.
There is power in words. When the music is in my mind, I think of where I am and where I want to be. My heart pounds to the beat, and my mind is free. Sometimes, I will get up and dance around the room.
Options appear and spin around in my head as I pick at them one at a time, the pros and cons presenting themselves to me. Not just one scenario but many, as I play the music repeatedly, letting the words sink in.
Marvin Gaye-Ain’t No Mountain High Enough
My cousin and I played together as young girls, our voices singing a song that would haunt us all our days — Marvin Gaye’s Ain’t No Mountain High Enough. We sang this daily as we walked up the project steps to the seventh floor carrying our baseball bats.
The rapists learned we would not hesitate to work together to whip their asses if they came after us. The singing was their warning that we were two badass girls headed up the steps.
“Ain’t no mountain high
Ain’t no valley low,
Ain’t no river wide enough, baby
If you need me, call me,
No matter where you are
No matter how far,
Don’t worry, baby
Just call my name; I’ll be there in a hurry.”
Songwriter(s) Nickolas Ashford, Valerie Simpson
There was easier prey, so they left us alone after an encounter or two. We hoped someone was coming to rescue us from our circumstances. No one did, so we protected each other. The song made it easier to deal with our horrific reality.