Made ya look. Now, you were probably drawn to the three most important words in that title. Mother. Love. Bone. Good.
I don’t believe in coincidences. Somehow, amid a February spell of depression (or a clinical depression management flare up?), I dutifully picked Mother Love Bone’s Apple from my “special CD shelf.” I moved my all-time favorites to a shelf of their own. This shelf is comprised of the mixed tapes (CDs) my husband made for me, all my Pearl Jam albums and sundry recordings, Mother Love Bone’s works, Eddie’s solo stuff, and Smashing Pumpkins’s box set. Also, two copies of Singles soundtrack. Yes, two. I found that, after one play-through, I couldn’t remove it from my car’s CD deck. No, it wasn’t LITERALLY stuck, but my hands were unable, or unwilling, to eject it from it’s warm place in CD land, located somewhere behind my dashboard. I must have listened to it for three days straight. (How’s that for an Easter occurrence?)
I went to teach my creative writing workshop. A woman, older than I am, read a piece where two of her characters in a club were shouting back and forth during a show:
Character One:”Man, Pearl Jam’s where it’s at!”
Character Two: “Nah, you’re fulla fuckin’ bullshit, man! Everyone knows it was all about Mother Love Bone, man!”
Of course, my insides and my smile broadened. After my workshop, I called my brother. I never brought up what I had been listening to, until after he recounted talking to a much older, nerdier coworker about music. “Yeah, dude, I love Pearl Jam,” Jeremy agreed with him.
The dude he was talking to: “Yeah, but Mother Love Bone? Holy crap.”
Jeremy, to me, “I know, right? If Andy had lived…he would have been the most prolific, insanely rocking musician of our time, I think.”
Me, “I love you.” Well, I didn’t say that immediately, but I know it’s true, whenever I talk to anyone about the music that not only moves me, but saves me. I feel my chest expand under the press of a February fog of allergies, depression, and shitty weather. I feel my soul stretch out, smile, and take off for a 5K.
And this is how I feel when Mother! My Love Bone is stuck. In fact, as I was playing “car” with my favorite three-year-old (not mine, but I get visitation rights! i.e. I’m her part-time nanny), she picked the album by happenstance, after a week of me listening to it non-stop. I had put it back, but she picked it up, and in her cute, toddler treble said, “I wan’…THIS ONE!” Okay. Truth. Her favorite color is purple. As you may know, the album is heavily imbued with the color, and variations of the shade.
Hence, I put the CD back into my player and there it has stayed for another two-and-a-half listens. I know that I have articulated many times how alive music makes me feel (Pearl Jam pun welcome). But I realized many important things this week; rather, I re-realized them.
Going down the road, cruise control, spring-like weather gracing me, I turned the volume up high. Way higher than I usually do. I could probably sing this album BACKWARDS in perfect pitch. But I’d rather do what I normally do–which is “car dance.” Car dancing is when your body can’t help but move in some way to the music you hear. Sometimes, there’s steering wheel drumming. Sometimes, there’s what I call interpretive hand-dancing. This is where I act out the lyrics with my hand, looking to passing cars as though I’m having an emphatic conversation. And I am. I converse with my musicians the very same as I would converse with my best friend. I am happy. I am free. I am funny. I often yell, “Preach it!” “Tell me more!” “Sing it, Andy.” Or “That’s damn right!” “I’m listening, man, and I know you know that!”
Yeah, I’m still alive. And I’ve found the very thing that, no, doesn’t “cure” depression, but heals insides of me I ignored. And that is proper treatment of clinical depression. Just this week, I posted on Facebook about how one shouldn’t, “be the backup vocalist when you were meant to sing lead.” This was for myself. I’m done with the background. I belong up front. I deserve to be heard. I shouldn’t be afraid to be heard. Andy helps me. What is it about his legacy that makes me feel this way?
The way I car-dance with Mother Love Bone. (Giving credit to the whole unit, as it should be.) But I think of Andy’s energy and love and passion for music. He WAS the music. He had fears and anxieties just like me, just like the rest of us, but music was his salve, his “cure,” his artistic debt to himself. He lets me out. He frees my trapped artist. And there are never any adequate words to express my gratitude. “Words and music are my only tools”…and I will use them, Andy, just like you did. I will use them well. I would say I wish you could see the legacy you left behind, but I know you do. And that alone makes me smile contentedly.
See you in the Temple of the Dog, man.
Peace, love, and music.
P.S. This post was composed while I was spinning Apple on my turntable.