Music is Moral Law.

Not havin’ the day you hoped for? Here’s some joy you can’t ignore

Are You Hep to the Jive_Cab CallowayI’m a big fan of Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Cab Calloway, of his high speed rhyming, wordless “scat” singing, and his manic energy. A friend who’s familiar with my admiration of the big band leader shot me this clip, and upon watching it I felt guilt, excitement, and the swelling of my heart – in that order. The magic here is its big middle finger to me-me-me.

It seems like we live in a world where everybody has to be everywhere at once, where, if we can’t have what we want, we know what it looks like to get it. It’s a world in which nearly all of our needs are digitally serviced, yet nothing does as much for us as music.

As important as music has always been to me, woven throughout my history and tied to just about every human connection I’ve made since my youth, I haven’t used it enough to help others. And by help, I mean I haven’t used it to brighten someone’s day, or as a means for giving others a way to communicate — i.e., the power to climb up and out. Not for years I haven’t.

Never mind bemoaning a bygone era in which we spent hours of super concentrated brain power creating vinyl-to-cassette compilations as gifts. Lots of writers have bitched about our loss of such human connections, not to mention the generosity on which they were based. But with music being so readily available today, what excuse could I possibly have to keep it limited to my own selfish enjoyment and confined to lightening only my load?

Evidently, I need to remember that music is not for the self-serving. It never has been (though it’s funny to me that music-based plastic purchase vouchers are called iTunes gift cards: they’re meant for sharing, but they’re more often used like isolation training. Maybe that’s the “I” part).

I need to be better about letting music help me help others. My maternal grandmother, for instance, is from El Paso, Texas, by way of Chihuahua, Mexico. She used to love listening to Freddy Fender. So this iTunes gift card here, the one held to the wall above my monitor by a magnet, saving itself for something I really want, should probably get put to use.

How suddenly stupid it makes me feel, looking at it. I have only one grandparent left, and no excuse not to spend my card on a way to brighten her day.


Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, 
flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.
– Plato