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Expressing life through music

Molly Acker | Wednesday, October 6, 2004

Lately, I have noticed high levels of anxiety permeating the halls of Holy Cross Hall. There have been sleepless nights caused by stress, tears over boyfriends and breakdowns in the face of that 10-page paper due tomorrow morning. While it is inevitable that this time right before midterms will be especially busy, I am simply trying to take these potentially stressful weeks in stride.

Since I was younger, my dad has always been a great comfort to me when I was going through what he would describe as a “tough time.” Whereas most parents would offer a few words of encouragement or a pat on the back, my father has always related my predicaments to songs. He remains convinced that all of life’s problems can be solved by paying attention to appropriate song lyrics. Whether I am happy or sad, he always finds lyrics that apply to my situation, and he then provides me with a temporary theme song.

Throughout grade school, when life was simpler, my song was always “Thank Heaven for Little Girls.” It was a constant reminder that I was a blessing to those in my family and an important part of their lives.

Once high school rolled around, it became clear that one song would not be enough, so he expanded his play list.

Right before I made my Confirmation, my dad played Billy Joel’s “Only the Good Die Young” as an example of what not to do.

When I began to date, my dad reminded me of the Supremes’ “You Can’t Hurry Love,” to show me that the right guy will not play silly games with me.

As I began the process of looking for a college, my parents wanted to make sure that I made my own decision as to which school I would attend. My song became “Go Where You Wanna Go” by the Mamas and the Papas.

Eventually I did make my own decision and was excited to start college. Graduation came and went and then my dad let me in on a secret. He played Paul Simon’s “Kodachrome” and more or less told me that “all that crap I learned in high school” is not all that I need to get by in life. However, he wanted me to understand that things in life aren’t always what they seem, so he introduced me to the Kinks’ classic, “Lola,” which tells the story of a guy who mistakenly goes home with a cross-dresser.

College began, and I had little trouble fitting in and having a great time. There was never a dull moment. My dad called me one morning, after I had enjoyed a particularly “fun” night and determined that the song “Good Golly Miss Molly (Devil with the Blue Dress on)” aptly described my first month of college. To this day, he reminds me to keep him and my mom in mind by referencing the line “While you’re rocking and rolling, can’t you hear your mama call?”

Like most fathers, my dad became concerned with my relationships with young men and pointed out that their intentions are not always admirable. Naturally, he broke out the Frank Sinatra CD and told me to take it “Nice and Easy.”

Last winter, as I was left for my semester in Rome, his song of choice on the way to the airport was Cat Stevens’ “Wild World.” Similarly, when I called home several months later and asked for more money in order to spend the summer in Europe, he cited his favorite philosopher, Mick Jagger, and told me, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you get what you need” – apparently, I needed to come home.

Now here I am a junior in college and looking towards my future. I told my dad about this idea for a column and he seems to think that our playlist has come full circle. As “Thank Heaven for Little Girls” will tell you, we “grow up in the most delightful way.” He is now confident that I can find my own songs to listen to, and even help others by helping them find the right tunes for the right moments. So when things are looking bleak, and you need some advice, it’s nice to know you can look to your music collection and find the answers. I know I am not alone. I have noticed that other people do this to some extent. Please, if you need any help finding your song, let me know and I’ll see what I can do.

Molly Acker is a junior communications and humanistic studies double major at Saint Mary’s. Her column appears every other Thursday. She can be contacted at acke6758@saintmarys.edu.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.