Not a day goes by that I don’t feel grateful for the fact that, despite my inability to actually play any musical instruments, I am a music nut who also happens to play the most electrifying yet technically sound air guitar in all the land. The story is similar for my skills on air piano, air percussion, air violin, air trumpet and air saxophone.

    Not a day goes by that I don’t feel grateful for the fact that, despite my inability to actually play any musical instruments, I am a music nut who also happens to play the most electrifying yet technically sound air guitar in all the land. The story is similar for my skills on air piano, air percussion, air violin, air trumpet and air saxophone.

    As time passes I’m increasingly convinced that music connects with me on a visceral level that affects me so instantaneously, spontaneously and without explanation that for a moment I’m not even sure why a shiver just bolted down my spine, or why my eyes are filling with tears, or why my stomach flips a little bit and a bit of a cold sweat starts to form on the surface of my skin.

    It’s music. Next to love, what’s better?

    To this day, hearing even a couple guitar chords or lyrics from just about any sentimental radio hit from the years 1975-78 takes me back to when my parents told my sister and I we were moving from the Seattle suburbs to Minnesota, and the process of selling our house and packing up over the ensuing months, and driving back here in a massive U-Haul truck with my dad, towing a 1969 VW Beetle with three black cats and a litter box inside, and my mom and older sister following in a 1966 Mustang that my parents still own. I know every piano melody, every guitar riff and every lyric to essentially any song played on the radio from that foundation-shaking time in my life, and to this day my friends’ jaws drop in childlike wonder when they witness the spectacle of my brain’s almost reflexive recall capabilities.

    Then there are the handful of ballads performed by glam/hair metal bands from the mid-1980s to 1990 – before I met my beautiful wife. A couple seconds from one of them reaches my ears, and I can instantly recall which girlfriend had broken my heart, or, more likely, what ghastly thing I’d done to force her to dump my sorry ass.

    “Don’t Know What You Got ’til it’s Gone” by Cinderella, with a lead singer, Tom Keifer, who, when he’d screech to hit the high notes, made fingernails on a chalkboard sound like a symphony, jumps to mind. My girlfriend and I broken up, the song was popular at the time, and every time I heard it I’d get sick to my stomach and tears would well up in my eyes, one blink from streaming down my cheeks. Love’s weight is particularly crushing at that age.

    We joyously and breathlessly got back together a few days later, and we were hanging out in her bedroom listening to music, which we did constantly. The Cinderella song came on, and she told me that while we were apart the song tore her to pieces every time she heard it. Right then, we were convinced we’d be together forever.

    We re-broke up a couple weeks later, of course, and “Every Rose has its Thorn” by Poison took the lead as the song that rendered me a blubbering blob of useless flesh.

    I guess I wear my emotions on my sleeve. As time has passed, I’ve slowly learned to embrace this as a positive character trait and not something to run from, or hide. Music is typically the go-to hair-trigger to obliterate my already-frayed heartstrings.

    After years of insisting on continued compact disc purchases featuring my favorite artists’ new albums, I caved in years ago to downloading songs, iTunes, Bluetooth connectivity and all that jazz. A few months ago I bought a new stereo receiver with all the techno-gizmos to enhance my listening pleasure, and it’s situated between my pair of traditional tower speakers and all of their glorious, thumping bass that I refuse to disown in favor of some miniature wireless speaker setup.

    With the new receiver, I figured it was high time to go on an iTunes song downloading binge, and it was then that our oldest son said we were all being dumb...that going onto iTunes and buying songs separately, when a “Family Sharing” membership to Apple Music, for around $15 a month, would give our whole family universal access to an essentially unlimited song library.

    If there was ever such a thing as a positive stroke, I almost had one right then and there. Our son set it all up, and soon I named a new playlist “Mike’s Super Awesome Toonage” and started stuffing the “cloud” with enough songs to send it crashing from the sky from the weight of such gargantuan awesomeness.

    When I was finished the next day, my playlist was in excess of 600 songs. It ran the gamut, from a few of those songs that to this day unleash a rush of memories from that cross-country move as a 7 year old kid, to the newest tunes I’ve stumbled across listening to XM Satellite Radio as recently as a few days ago. Almost every day since, if a certain song pops into my head, I grab my phone, and in a few seconds it’s added to Mike’s Super Awesome Toonage, which is now rapidly approaching 700 songs.

    “That’s too big,” our oldest son cautioned. “You’ll be skipping over songs all the time.”

    He’s right. But I embrace that fact instead of dread it. Depending on my mood or the scene or people surrounding me, I might tap skip on my screen until my finger’s bloody in order to find the perfect song, to lip-synch seamlessly or phantom strum along to, to rock out or recall a life moment like a nasty breakup, or to just chill.

    I’m closer to 50 than I am to 40, so chilling is the chosen ticket more often than not. Alright, alright, alright.