So I’m laying on my bed, on my own mental path, daydreaming about my college days and the fun I had with my crew. My thoughts reflect on my old friend Gjon Lampkin and that energetic, devilish smile he used to give. I swear to God he could light up a room after a funeral with that grin of his. Drove the girls crazy. I wished I had an enchanting gaze like that.
Sade’s “Maureen” is playing on my playlist, which I’m listening to for the third consecutive time. It’s what triggered my memory of him and because of that, I’m playing it over and over…
I loved this song tremendously when her “Promise” album was released back in 1985, although I never took the time to learn all of the words. It just had this killer bongo/guitar/piano intro that established and maintained the coolest “laid back” groove for a summer afternoon. I could rock and bop to its flow for hours if the song lasted that long. Her voice just made me sway happily, foolishly, in carefree jubilation, every time she caressed me with her soft-toned, “Maurrrreeeeeeeennn”. I often closed my eyes while listening in anticipation of that walk-away repeat phrase “Never meet my new friends” as the “ooooooh-ooo-ooo-oooh” faded it all out, into oblivion.
Although I knew it was about an old friend who wasn’t around anymore it never truly struck home until the first time I heard it after losing a friend I loved so much that he might as well have been my brother.
And I did love him. Truly. Powerfully. No, not in romantic fashion, but with deep sincerity and celebration of a true friendship birthed in lady-loving camaraderie, love for music and respect for each other. I’ll talk about that later, in another blog, I promise. But this is about the song.
I don’t need to retype all of the song lyrics for you to understand where I’m going with this. I only need to share two lines; one of which, I already mentioned –
“Never gonna see you again.
Never meet my new friends…”
Upon hearing that, all of a sudden, the song took on an entirely new meaning. You see, I’m a musician and songwriter who loves creating clever lyrics, but outside of listening to them in a song, I’m often engrossed with the composition, background vocals and overall harmony. More often than not, I just sing the background and ignore the riffs of the lead singer. Half of the time, I don’t even have the lyrics memorized like most fans of the artist/group. That’s why this song hit me so hard. I’d heard it before, but for the first time, I heard it. I HEARD it. I FELT it.
That’s the beauty of music. That’s what it’s all about. Making a combination of words and notes relatable, applicable, to various walks of life: Love, Sex, Rage, Laughter, Family, Dancing. And yes, Loss and Heartbreak.
I’d had that happen to me before, when listening to a song about heartbreak AFTER having my heart broken. And then, it took on a whole new meaning. The music beat found a heartbeat. It gained a life of its own. But I never truly appreciated it until it found a way into MY life, giving emphasis to what I had experienced and continued to feel, long after the moment or emotional sensations had passed (or in some cases, remain). But that was necessary and always will be. I needed validation, confirmation, reassurance that what I felt was real and helps define who and what I am today – a “summation of seasons” (gonna have to put that in a song someday). And sometimes, my friends, that only happens through music.
If you ask me, that’s what music and lyrics, REAL music and lyrics, do for the soul. It tears you down and it makes you whole. It analyzes you. It deciphers you. It reshapes and remolds you. It feels you and it heals you.
And it helps you find meaning, long after basic understanding has failed.
Back to my music…
Never meet my new friends…
…Never meet my new friends…
…Never meet my new friends…
I miss you, Gjon. Keep on singing…
I just recently lost an old friend too. (On October 7) to that evil demon cancer. So I know how you feel. We were friends since 1979.
It really sucks I know I’m getting old because your friends start dying. This might sound morbid but, it’s how I feel. I lost my parents in 86 and 92 (Mom first also to F-ing cancer) I hate people dying but, it’s part of life.
Man, you have no idea how much I can feel your words and your pain. I’ve lost family and friends as recently as this morning and I hate knowing that it won’t stop for me until I’m gone. When I listen to music, I try not to it sadden me. Instead, I focus on all of the wonderful times I shared with the person it reminds me of. i know you do too.
Thanks, as always, for the love, Arlen!