Have you ever wondered what life would be like if music did not exist?….. yeah… let’s not!
Isn’t it amazing how music brings so much to our lives. It doesn’t matter what phase we are in life, what we are going through or what we feel, there is a song or piece of music that seems to capture exactly how we feel, or say what we can’t seem to put into words.
We teach our young children with song- the ABCs, Twinkle Little Star…etc.
Then as we grow we begin to listen to what other kids our age are listening to. We have our favorite bands, or boy bands, or head banging bands, or bands that march, bands that we can sing along with… ahh so many memories with music.
It isn’t surprising then, that when we worship God with music.
There is something about music that is not only reverent, it is also powerful.
When I was young I wanted to sing and play guitar as my secret grown up dream. I wanted to be like Madonna, or Debbie Gibson- remember her? Hey, I said music was amazing, I didn’t say my taste was.
Nevertheless, I can’t tell my story without mentioning how music and song was a huge part of my coming to age. I have one Uncle who goes by Master Guitarist, and rightfully so.
Every year during the month of July- when Taos would celebrate Las Fiestas- a celebration to honor Santa Anna and Santiago, two holy saints of the Catholic Church-where locals take two full days of eating, dancing, and basking in the music of local Spanish Bands. There is even a royal court where a young lady is pronounced Queen- ¡Que Vivan La Reina! On the last day there is a parade and we eat some more, and of course listen to more music.
What was so great about Las Fiestas to me was how it brought our whole family together. We would all hang out on my grandparents porch and listen to my uncle play his guitar. All of us cousins would even coordinate our own dance moves.
Las Fiestas de Taos is kind of a big deal- check out our outfits above. My aunt actually made those for us out of those cholo handkerchiefs.
So it is no surprise that I wanted to play guitar too. I picked one up early in life and my dad, who knew a little, taught me what he knew. The first song I learned- none other than Richie Valens, “La Bamba!” Yup, I just heard the tune in my head too!
I took a few classes in high school and in college, and it didn’t really help me become a master guitarist, I still only play a few songs- you can say that reading music is not my talent!
So when Las Fiestas de Taos was over and family members went back home, my sisters and I would go visit our other Grandpa- my mom’s dad. He was the reason my mom ventured to Taos and met my dad, and now there is three beautiful, smart, badass women in this world!
My grandpa worked at the Harwood Library, now a museum, as the janitor. He had a bit of a drinking issue, so his lively hood was minimal. He lived in an Airstream and built around it on a piece of property so far out of town, it had no running water or electricity. It didn’t stop him living a life of fun!
My sister and I would play with his miniature houses- a replica of an 1800’s village complete with a saloon, a library, and a hostel. He was also a talented cartoonist with a sense of humor that made you nod your head and chuckle even though you knew you shouldn’t.
My favorite part of visiting with him was when he would get out his accordion and play us a song. I was fascinated with that instrument. The sound of it, the uniqueness of its shape and how it was played- contracting it in and out while playing notes with both hands. I was mesmerized with how well he played it- he made it look so easy. The first time I picked up that instrument it was almost as big as me and probably weighed more. He tried to teach me a few notes, and how it worked, but I just couldn’t get it.
As I got older and became interested in other activities, I still tried to play the accordion when we would go visit my grandpa. He had about three or five accordions to his name, different sizes, colors and so forth, and there was this one I was particularly drawn to. It was small, so that was good, and the color- a marble red! It was beautiful! I’d take it out of its case and try to mimic my grandpa’s movement of fingers and yet it never sounded anything like his music- in fact I wouldn’t even call it music.
When I turned 15 or 18- I just can’t remember when- he gave me that accordion for my birthday. I thought for sure now I would be able to enter that talent contest and impress everyone with mad skills on the accordion- ahem, not so much!
That accordion stayed inside its case for years, collecting dust while I was trying to figure out my life- while I was raising a family. Then one day as I was unpacking my belongings from all the moves I made, I came across it and opened it up- with it opening up all the memories of my time with my grandpa while he played that accordion. I still can’t play it, but I can still hear the music it plays in my heart!
When my grandpa departed this world I had the honor of writing and speaking his eulogy. I described a lot of what I said above and then some- as life is too precious and too short for us to grasp.
Thank GOD we have music to dance to, to sing along with, to love, to express our emotions, to turn water into wine! ¡Que Vivan la Musica de Vida!
I think I’m going to open up a drink and listen to some of my favorite jams or strum the only songs I know on my guitar.
Check out the The Archie Herman Band MusicStore on FaceBook.