The soundtrack of my life is deep and varied. I fell asleep to my parent’s popular rock band rehearsing in the next room – think Steely Dan meets Heart. I have a coveted recording of them playing live to a large crowd in downtown Oklahoma City in 1976. I fell in love with my parents’ music, including way too much reverb and an overly emotional abundance of cowbell. When I had my own differentiation of musical preference from my parents – the ’80's alternative music of my adolescence – it felt like a personal attack on my father's homegrown three-piece band. In addition, my grandmother's love of Big Band and adoration of Lawrence Welk made my appreciation for cheesy deep rooted. My own songwriting started young. I have been composing with childhood friends for as long as I can remember: rewriting childhood songs and creating rock operas on roller skates a la Xanadu.
At every major transition in my life, I can document one of three signs: a radical hair transformation (usually from red to blond or blonde to red), a new tattoo (more about that later), or a renewed interest, or really a return, to my music. Music has been home for me. I was in a band when I left home at 16. It was music that carried me through my exchange student year abroad – it expressed what I was feeling and helped me make friends. In college it punctuated my philosophical angst. During my teaching career, music brought me closer to the students and other teachers. In seminary, it told the story of my deepening personality, helped me make a mediocre sermon memorable worship, and developed relationships outside of the ministry. All through the years my parents’ original music has looped through the soundtrack of my life to support me. And it still does, even though my dad is no longer physically with me.
Last week I was in the studio recording my first *real* album. I say real because there are hours and hours of live recordings of me playing with a blues band in Chicago, and there is our garage mix of a few of my songs we did while I was in seminary. But this is the first time I have had artistic control and the resources to record and arrange my music in a way that I imagine it in my head. It is incredible. I wrote a song called “Dear Oklahoma,” also the title of the album, that is way bigger than me. It caught the attention of some musician friends from the East Coast who just happened to be in town and wanted to offer vocals. And so last Friday I found myself in a collar, in the studio, recording “Dear Oklahoma.” And then later that evening, I opened the show with Emma's Revolution in front of legendary activist folk artist Holly Near. Last night I recorded a version of one of my father's songs.
And now Beckett will have my songs as well as my father's added to the soundtrack of her life.