Dear Atticus, on music

Another letter from Mike.


Dear Atticus,

Your mom asked me to write to you about music. I think music occupies the same space in my life as books do in her life. I could not live without music just like she could not live without books.

I remember when I was five or six going into my closet and seeing on the very top shelf my father’s collection of Beach Boys’ albums. He loved The Beach Boys, but for some reason, he never took them down and played them for me. One day they disappeared. I think that is a shame because there were probably some amazing stories that he could have shared about where he was and what he was doing when each album was released.

I am not going to let that happen between you and me. It is one of my greatest joys to share music with other people. While I am not a history buff, I want to share how music can be revolutionary. Music, as with most arts, has been at the forefront of cultural change and is vital to cultural movements. A reason that music has been revolutionary is not just because it gives a greater voice to the people, but music affects people on a private level. I can’t wait to tell you about how certain songs have changed my life. Whether it’s the first time I heard “Imagine” or listened to M. Ward on that rainy February day, I want you to know my stories; why these songs are important to me. You may come to appreciate those songs for their artistic achievements, but if you don’t, I hope you come to appreciate them for how they have changed me.

Your mom and I hope to immerse you in music early on. I already have an iPod in your room with some of my favorite music loaded onto it that I think you can listen to even at your young age. Concerts will be a regular occurrence for you. You can come visit me when I DJ at the local radio station, and I’ll show you how I share music with the masses (or as I like to joke, the mass). We hope They Might Be Giants will teach you about your letters, numbers and greater scientific principles. You won’t be able to escape The Beatles. And, luckily, both your church and elementary school will teach you how to play a variety of musical instruments, including your voice. Maybe you’ll develop a talent for creating your own music, but you’ll have to defy the odds, which are definitely not in your favor.

Personally, I have a lot of hopes for you and your musical tastes. However, I cannot make you like any song. In the words of Olivander, “The wand chooses the wizard.” Songs have a way of doing that. Songs meet you right where you are. Songs can express your deepest desires in ways you never knew how to express. Songs can move your forward. Songs can anchor you to the past. They help you see beauty. They can also add beauty to an already beautiful scene. If you can find songs that can do that for you, I will be happy for you.

I wanted to let you know the songs that I was listening to while writing this letter to you. All of them are very, very important, and each has a story waiting for you to hear.

Jars of Clay—Silence
The Beatles—Here Come the Sun
John Lennon—Imagine
James Taylor—Copperline
Traveling Wilburys—Handle with Care
Coldplay—Kingdom Come
Green Day—Wake Me Up When September Ends
Rich Mullins—The Color Green
Eef Barzelay—Joy to the World
The Innocence Mission—Snow
M. Ward—Fuel for Fire
Patty Griffin—When it Don’t Come Easy
U2—Where the Streets Have No Name


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