Presto!

By Diane DeVaughn Stokes

Presto!

“Music is magic for the heart and soul.”

That quote may never make the Internet’s list of top musical quotes, but it is my own quote on the topic. Stop and think about it, and you will surely agree. Music can take you back in time, it can transport you to a different place, and it can make you laugh or cry in the first few measures. Presto! Just like magic.

What else do you know that can change your mood and do all of the above in no time flat? Even the word “presto,” which is associated with magic, came from the musical term meaning “quickly.”

As a radio announcer for EASY Radio, I love playing songs that do exactly that for our listeners. They share their stories with me about various songs and the memories that flash back to them.

That happens for me with songs of the fifties and sixties. They all make me feel like a kid again. Just last week, as my husband Chuck and I were going out for dinner, I heard a song that took me way, way back in time. It made me cry then, and it makes me cry even more now! The song is “Puff the Magic Dragon.” Chuck laughed and said the song was about drugs! I said he was crazy. To me it’s about growing up and leaving all of your childhood things behind. It still tears me up after all these years!

Only Peter, Paul and Mary know what it is really is about!

All of the Beatles’ early songs remind me of my sister’s birth in 1964, one of the happiest years of my life. About fifteen years ago, Chuck took me to a Paul McCartney concert, and I thought I was having some sort of breakdown, as I could not stop crying throughout the whole show. Each song took me back to another precious memory of time gone-by. Talk about cathartic! I would have to say that when I am feeling melancholy, which is a lot lately, it is these two decades of music that spur me on.

However, when I want to feel jazzed and motivated to get the house clean or get the closets re-organized or make the toilet bowls sparkle, I play Broadway show tunes. There’s just something about those songs that makes me want to get out my baton and start twirling. I love Broadway music!

Living in Newark, New Jersey, when I was a kid enabled me to go to New York City several times a year. My paternal grandfather would take me every summer to see a Broadway show, and my mom and maternal grandmother took me every Christmas season. I was mesmerized, and I still am today when I go to the Big Apple. But I am equally excited just going to local musical theater. I never miss the Tony awards on TV, and whenever Chuck and I travel, we always seek out a venue with a musical theatrical performance, as it is a passion for both of us.

Music is storytelling at its best. Whether it’s country, jazz, Broadway or rock n’ roll, you can hear a song thirty or forty years later, and the words simply come back to you. Then you laugh and say, how can that happen when I can’t remember where I put my keys last night? Yes, even though the memories from when we first heard that song may slowly fade away, it’s amazing how the words are etched in our minds forever.

I have proof of that. A few months ago I attended a musical salute to our country at Brightwater Retirement Center in their memory care unit. Most of these residents do not even know what they ate for breakfast, but it was astounding how many of them knew the words to “You’re A Grand Old Flag,” “Yankee Doodle Dandy” and others. From their wheelchairs they were marching; feet tapping away, clapping their hands and patting the musical rhythm out on the cushions below them. I saw some of them mouthing the lyrics; others were singing as clearly as if they learned the song yesterday.

Plato said, “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.”

Shakespeare said, “If music be the food of love, play on.”

Kurt Vonnegut said, “The only proof I need for the existence of God is music.”

Bob Marley said, “One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.”

Taylor Swift said, “People have not always been there for me, but music has.”

Diane DeVaughn Stokes said, “Music is magic for the heart and soul.”

Play on!

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