The Music in My Head

By Kim Seeley

The Music in My Head

I was sharing a Thanksgiving seasonal meal with some friends last November, an event that began a few years ago, but has become a significant annual tradition. We began our pre-meal ritual of naming the blessings for which we were particularly grateful that year. Nearly everyone mentioned good health, family, good friends, and I am equally thankful for all of those things. When it was my turn to respond, however, I mentioned my thankfulness for “the music in my head.” A few people looked at me rather strangely, because they were expecting me to mention my adorable grandson. While he is the light of my life, that evening I had music on my mind, and for a very good reason.

At the age of forty, I was a long-term substitute for a class of 5th graders. I began having difficulty discerning some of their answers to my questions. Then one night, my family and I were watching TV, and a character on the show walked over to answer the phone. “Did you guys hear the phone ring?” I questioned my husband and two daughters.

“Yes,” they replied. I had heard nothing. I made an appointment for a hearing test.

The results were not good. I had nerve damage from an unknown cause, which would require a hearing aid. I was shocked, as I had never been a lover of loud, heavy metal music, nor had I attended such concerts as a teen-ager. I went to hear James Taylor, Neil Diamond and the Carpenters, but none of those concerts left my ears vibrating. I had never been around loud machinery or jackhammers. My doctor was equally mystified at the cause of my nerve damage, as a family history provided no clues, either.

However, the damage was indeed there, and over the past twenty years, my hearing has increasingly worsened. I went through several hearing aids in just my right ear, as various improvements were made in different models, then in both ears. On the night of our Thanksgiving get-together, I had just visited my audiologist for another adjustment. Today, I suffer from a 60% hearing loss, and while my hearing aids help, by no means, do they replace my normal hearing. Most of the music on the radio sounds tinny to me; I struggle to understand lyrics to unfamiliar music; and while I still sing in the choir, I am always conscious of trying to hear the voices around me to make sure my alto is still in good harmony.

When I was a child, my mother introduced me to music. She championed my early predilection for music, driving me to piano lessons for years, and faithfully attending all of my recitals. She would make my siblings leave me alone while I labored over a particularly difficult passage. My mother has always been a singer, and her lovely soprano voice has graced many a church choir and cantata. While not as active as she used to be, she still enjoys singing songs with her grandchildren and great-children. My mother was my Pied Piper into the world of music, a world which has made my life richer and deeper throughout the years.

So am I thankful for the music in my head? Absolutely! Several of my friends claim I have an amazing musical memory, for I remember words and songs from my elementary school years that they have long forgotten. I can close my eyes and still hear my Treakle Elementary chorus singing, “Oklahoma!” and “Erie Canal.”

The songs of my youth and teen-age years are indelibly imprinted in the musical pathways of my brain. I will carry the Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, Carol King and many, many others, wherever I go. Their music was the soundtrack of my coming-of-age; I cried with the heartbreak only youthful love can know to their songs in my dormitory room.

Once I had children of my own, music became an even more important part of my life, as I took on the responsibility of the children’s Sunday School choir at my church. Both of my girls sang in the choir for many years, and we performed for the congregation every fourth Sunday. I still know all the words to “Zacchaeus,” and “Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho,” just as well as I know “Itsy Bitsy Spider,” and “Pop Goes the Weasel.”

Another reason I give thanks for the music in my head is that I can hear my daughter, Amanda, singing there whenever I wish. While we lost Amanda at the tender age of 19, her voice lives on in several videos and CDs that friends and family taped for us. But my favorite musical memories of Amanda are not found in any physical format, but in my mind. I never taped her singing in the shower, or standing on the playhouse steps, singing, “My Boyfriend’s Back,” with her sister. Those musical memories are in my mind and in my heart.

There are also other voices lost to me except in my mind. I am thankful that I can still recall my daddy singing, “You are my Sunshine,” while he was driving the car late at night, and the four of us children were getting weary. My grandmother used to enjoy singing, “Whispering Hope,” while I accompanied her on her little chord organ.

I am certain that each of us holds some musical memories quite dear, songs that remind us of a certain moment, a special someone, a long-ago romance. What makes the music in my head so important to me is the realization that one day, if my hearing continues to worsen, I may no longer be able to hear music at all. I hope and pray that it doesn’t ever reach that point, but if it happens, I am stockpiling more music in my head as long as I am able. Currently, my two and a-half-year-old grandson and I are learning the “Hot Dog” song from his favorite TV show, and I am trying to learn, “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy,” just so I can keep up with his musical repertoire. In January, I will have a new grandchild to love and to rock; I just happen to know a few lullabies, too.

About this writer

  • Kim Seeley Kim Seeley, a former librarian and English teacher, lives with her husband, Wayne, in Wakefield, Virginia. She is a frequent contributor to Sasee and Chicken Soup for the Soul. Her most recent story, “Amanda’s Jonquils,” can be found in Chicken Soup: Messages from Heaven. She loves to read, play the piano, travel and spend time with her grandson, Evan.

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7 Responses to “The Music in My Head”

  1. Kim– As a “kid,” I listened to the same music as you did, along with Cat Stevens and John Sebastian and Janis Ian. However, Jethro Tull cranked up too loudly is the culprit–I think–because I have some hearing loss as well.

    I too remember the words to “Erie Canal” from elementary school. Your story took me down memory lane. Thanks.

    • Kim Seeley says:

      Thank you for your comment. It is always heartwarming that someone took the time to respond to my writing, particularly when the subject matter is so personal.

  2. Kim, I have many of the same musical memories as you — not only the popular music of the 60s and 70s but the church music as well. Some of my musical memories include times I visited my grandparents’ country church and sang hymns like Just Over in the Glory Land. Keep making memories and all the best with your hearing!

    • Kim Seeley says:

      Thank you for your comment. I consider myself fortunate to have grown up in an era with so many talented musicians, and fortunate to have so many lovely church songs to cherish from the past and the present.

  3. Kim, you have really touched my heart with this beautiful article, “The Music in My Head”. I recently had my hearing checked and somehow, it checked out OK. I know hearing is a problem for me though. And, while I cannot remember where I just put my keys, I too can remember every word of my old favorite songs, and they are the same ones as yours: The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, Carol King, James Taylor, Neil Diamond and Judy Collins. The list goes on and on.

    You and I have been blessed to have daughters with beautiful voices. I would love for you to hear our daughter’s CD, in which she wrote all of the lyrics. It is called “Making Friends With Ghosts”. In fact, I will send you one when I get your address. Many were written from the grief she endured when we lost our dearest family members, back-to-back. Broken hearts can write beautiful songs. God bless you, Kim!!

    Thanks for sharing this sweet article. I don’t believe you will ever forget your favorite songs, including your dear Amanda’s lovely voice!!

    • Kim Seeley says:

      Thank you so much for your comments. I will send you my mailing address by private message on FB. I would love to hear your daughter’s music.

  4. Rose Ann says:

    Beautifully written article. Made me realize how often I “listen” to my favorite Simon and Garfunkel album (in my head.) Your positive attitude is such a gift.

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