‘Round Here

‘Round here, we’re carving out our names, ‘Round here we all look the same, ‘Round here we talk just like lions, but we sacrifice like lambs…..

Those lines were from the song ‘Round Here by the Counting Crows. I first heard it about 20 years ago. It mirrored the circumstances I was in. A time when I just arrived ’round here. A time when I began to carve out my future and my name. But in that pursuit, I left my beloved country and sacrificed almost everything.

Music is intertwined in our lives. From the time our ears were open, from the time of our birth, or even when we were still inside the womb, and up to our dying days, we listen to music.

Many of the songs we learned to treasure may not be because we love them initially, but  maybe because of the situations or events that are associated with them, when we first heard them.

For instance, when I listened to songs of Tears for Fears, or Duran Duran, or Spandau Ballet, it brings back memories of my high school and college days.

One specific song, a remake of “Crying in the Rain” by Aha, reminds me of that particular day when I was walking across our university’s soccer field. My PE teacher forced me to drop out from his class for a “mistake” that I did not commit. I was close to tears, and of course it was raining. But maybe that’s a separate story I’ll write someday.

Then when I listened to Hootie and the Blowfish, or Counting Crows, or the Cranberries, this make me think of the time when I transition from the Philippines to the US. It was also during that time that I listened and learned to like the Eraserheads, a Filipino rock group, as it became my sort of connection to the country that I left behind.

I listen to music most of the times. Especially when I am alone.

Once a month, I go to an outreach clinic, somewhere outside the city of Des Moines, that is considered rural Iowa. Even though the travel takes me about an hour and half, I really don’t mind the drive at all. The drive is easy with no traffic, passing through serene Iowa landscape of prairies and farm fields. This gives me a time alone to think while I listened to the music of my choosing.

Today, I picked Counting Crows as my music for my long drive.

One of their songs, Omaha, goes like this, “Omaha, somewhere in the middle of America.” It was interesting that when I first heard that song, I have no idea where Omaha is. But now I know exactly where it is. It is about 2 hours away where I am driving to.

My car is traveling at 70 miles per hour. My thoughts at 100 miles/hour.

The rain is pouring while my wipers beat in rhythm as the Counting Crows sings, “I am the rain king…” While the memories are also pouring.

*****

(*All songs mentioned of the Counting Crows were from their debut album August and Everything After)

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Even when I was much younger, I am used to having music on most of the time. In my room in Sampaloc, when I was in high school thru college, I had a small stereo radio with a cassette player that sits near my bed. It played instrumental music or light jazz when I am studying (I avoid music that will cause me to break into a song or make me sing-along when I am reading for that will disturb my concentration), and soft mellow music when I am ready to sleep.

If I am not studying or sleeping, my music can range from folk, rock, country, pop, gospel, and OPM’s (to which I freely sing-along). The music will drown the noise from our street, and most of the time, I would fall asleep with the radio on. The radio playing did not bother me at all, in fact it lulled me to sleep, especially during nights when sleep did not come so easily.

I don’t sleep with the radio on anymore. I have to consider the one I’m sharing the bed with now. My wife is a light sleeper and she easily gets awakened with noises, and a radio on will not let her sleep at all. Too bad she has to sleep with the noise of my snoring though. However, there are still nights that I cannot turn off my mind, or I can become restless, and sleep will not come to me. On these occasions, I put my earphones with my i-Pod or i-Phone on, and listen to my favorite music that will transcend me to La La land.

For a very long time, it has been observed that music can affect human behavior. In Biblical times, it was recorded that King Saul would call for David to play him his harp to soothe his troubled spirit.

In more modern times, research has shown that music with a strong beat can stimulate brainwaves to resonate in sync with the beat, with faster beats resulting sharper concentration and more alert thinking, while a slower tempo promotes a calm, meditative state. Music therapy is a growing field in health care and had been used in pain management, children with Attention Deficit Disorder, and even in ICU to help pacify patients. For some reason music appears to calm my restless leg syndrome as good as medication.

Not too long ago, I heard a version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” sang by this certain singer, that I really like. Then when we were in Hawaii several months ago, the tour guide mentioned this singer and I learned that he was from that island. He is Israel Kamakawiwo’ole (yes, that’s definitely an Hawaiian name).

It was sad though to learn that he passed away at an early age of 38, in 1997. He had health problems stemming from his weight, which at one point was more than 750 pounds. But that did not stop me from downloading his songs in my i-Phone. His “What a Wonderful World” is another favorite of mine, and he now sings me lullaby when I cannot sleep.

More recently, I heard from the radio a version of “Fields of Golds” that was an original song of Sting, who by the way is one of my favorite singers. But this specific rendition of the song captivated me, and so I looked for it and downloaded it also in my i-Phone.

I was intrigue why I have not heard of this female singer before, so I searched for her other songs in i-Tunes and I found most of them were really beautiful. Then I also found out that she had died back in 1996 from a malignant melanoma at such a young age of 33. Her name is Eva Cassidy.

What’s with me and dead singers? We’ll I guess I just like their songs, and it does not matter whether they are dead or alive. Eva Cassidy also now rocks me gently to sleep in my restless nights.

Here is Eva and Israel in their different versions of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Yes, both of them are really somewhere over there.

(videos from youtube)