I have a confession to make.
For my birthday, Doug took me to see Beautiful, The Carole King Musical at the Kennedy Center.
I loved it so much, I cried.
I couldn’t help myself.
Sitting there in the Opera House, listening to the music I fell in love with when I was a teenager, just touched me in an unexpected way.
It transported me back to about 1972 when I found Carole King’s album, Tapestry, under the tree on Christmas morning. I played that album so much that I wore it out.
My entire family ended up memorizing the album right along with me because I played it so often.
I never imagined then that my obsession over that music would be relived many years later sitting in a theater at Kennedy Center.
I certainly couldn’t have imagined then that I’d be so overwhelmed with nostalgia, gratitude and appreciation for all that life has given me since that Christmas so long ago.
During intermission, I texted my friend, Keri, who shares my love for Carole King. I said, “I have been thinking of you all night. You HAVE to see this musical.”
She texted back, “Carole King defines us and our generation. Tapestry was the first album I bought for myself.”
She would get the tears, I thought.
But, when I mentioned the musical to some other friends later, they just politely nodded, not fully getting why it made such an impression on me.
While others might not have the same response to Carole King that I had, I’m sure we’ve all had times when we’ve heard songs from our past and they’ve brought on a storm of uniquely strong emotions and memories.
One of my college friends and I used to take turns sharing song titles or albums and then writing essays about what they made us remember.
For him, a Barbra Streisand song brought back tender memories of a childhood friend that tragically died.
For me, a song from the Broadway musical Pippin reminded me of sitting in a New York City cafe with an old friend and talking for hours. It was like I was reliving the experience.
After my daughter, Annie, saw the play Wicked, she came home and started a journal titled, “Moments that took my breath away.”
Her first entry was about the music from the play because it was the first time that music literally took her breath away.
As I looked around the theater last night at the Carol King musical, it was packed with people, like me, who seemed completely wrapped up in the songs and the memories they evoked.
I noticed I wasn’t the only one that shed a tear or two.
It took me back to those angst-filled teenage years when I lounged on my bed – reading and singing the lyrics to songs about love, loss, beauty and friendship and imagining my own future and how it might unfold.
I read an old article in Psychology Today in 2013 that said, “The songs we love become woven into a neural tapestry entwined with the people, seasons, and locations throughout our lifespan.”
Which songs are woven into your neural tapestry?
I love the quote from Maria Augusta von Trapp: “Music acts like a magic key, to which the most tightly closed heart opens.”
And this from Colbie Caillat: “A great song should lift your heart, warm the soul and make you feel good.”
For me, my night at the Kennedy Center did all three.
Which songs do that for you? I’d love to know.