When I was young, there was always music. When I was six or so my parents gave me my first record for Christmas. I remember playing it on my tiny little box record player. I remember laying on my floor when I was sixteen, the one carpeted with the same weave that was there when my mother spent her teenage years in that very same house, and getting the speakers to my cheap cassette player as close as I could to my ears. I yearned to hear the words of ‘Let It Be’ on a deeper level. I wanted to hear every little fleck of emotion in Paul McCartney’s voice when he sang of his friend, Jude.
Today, I’m 28 and I have my Jude. He listens and he sings and he’s interested. Not all the time, granted, but there are songs and bands that seem to move his little soul. There are bands with the power to open his eyes a little wider and to hold his attention. Breathe Owl Breathe is one of those bands (if not THAT band).
I know this is the Breathe Owl blog lately. For that, apologies. But here’s the thing: I cannot sing to my boy so I have to trust someone else to do that very precious thing for me. Because music is not just music to me, because it can be so heavy and because it possesses the ability to hold so much meaning in our darkest times, I want to give him things — notes and instruments and an ear that can discern what could literally save his life one day (as it has mine)– more than I want him to have things. Because he is so young I feel solely responsible for showing him that this thing — something as simple as lyrics and music — can change his life.
This is important to me. I was ecstatic that he would get to see his band in real time. I was beside myself that I’d get to see his face when they sang his favorite songs and when he sang along. This is the singular show in my roster of concerts that during which I spent more time watching a little boy than I did the band. And he was beaming.
We arrived at the art gallery and Andrea happened to be outside. My slightly shy one walked over, with little hesitation, and told her he loved her band. He gave her his drawings. And I’ve never seen someone whose in a position to be jaded if they’d like be so much of the opposite. She was kind. She was smiling. As a mother to that little boy standing in front of her, I wanted to cry and hug that woman at once.
Jude sat through the two opening acts. After a day full of basketball games and driving, he was beat. He wept, he wanted to sleep, his missed his doll, Andy. The time came, Breathe Owl began to set up, and Andrea came out and taped his drawings to the speakers on stage. The kid awoke. The kid stared. The kid was in it now.
The band was simply wonderful. They held his attention, he laughed, he sang, and he danced. To see the power of music in the face of a five year old is intense, especially when that little human is someone you’ve raised and cared for. Andrea told the crowd about Jude’s bunnies, complete with appropriate beards for Micah and Trevor. He watched her through the entire show, in awe of her multi-instrumentalism. So did his mother, in awe of her kindness.
After the show, Jude got a hug from Andrea. Jude got a drawing from her in his tiny little composition notebook he carries around, messily taped together at the spine and full of his doodles. In twenty years, I have no doubt he’ll look at that page and really see the significance in that night.
Yesterday, I bought Canadian Shield. I listened to “Your Cape”. I cried. Being a kid is fucking hard sometimes — in the midst of play and learning it all seems so simple and easy but we should all know better. Everything is important when you’re young. And that doesn’t change until we age, until we realize that a slight on the playground isn’t the end of the world.
I feel like I owe this band a very big thank you card. They give meaning to what Jude is feeling but cannot always say. They make him laugh and they make him think. They make wearing capes in public okay. That’s a lesson I hope stays with Jude forever.
Breathe Owl Breathe :: Your Cape [MP3]
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