We often hear people talk about particular songs as being part of the soundtrack of their lives. They could be songs associated with meeting the love of their life or ones popular when they were reaching a milestone.
Some speak specifically about a summer soundtrack. Those are the songs about activities linked to those long, lazy days of summer. But do we have a winter soundtrack as well?
Defining a summer sound seems easier—it's the songs people listen to while out driving, lying on beaches or sitting around campfires. They belong with coming-of-age moments like road trips, independence, adventure and romance.
But what songs might make up a winter soundtrack? Lyrics about ice, snow and cold? Other than holiday favourites, these probably aren't lyrics we would be drawn to. More so it would be the songs we might have been listening to at the time something significant was going on.
There is a woman named Julie Gold who dreamed of a career as a songwriter. At the age of 22 she moved to New York and worked a laundry list of temporary jobs while continually writing and sending out songs. Although nothing was easy for her, she clung to her passion and did whatever was necessary to keep the dream alive.
Just prior to her 30th birthday, her parents arranged to deliver the piano she had played growing up. Julie took the day off work to be there when it arrived and couldn't take her eyes off it, finding it hard to believe it was actually sitting in her cozy, one-room apartment.
The movers told her she had to let it sit for 24 hours to acclimate before she could play, so she stayed awake all night just waiting in anticipation.
The next day she sat down and a song poured out of her, a song that she says took two hours to write, yet on the other hand took 30 years to come together. From a Distance was that song. It went on to be recorded by multiple artists, sung the world over, and won the Grammy for Song of the Year in 1991.
In many ways Gold's life remained the same. She was working as a secretary, living in her one-room apartment, holding to the dream of songwriting as a fulltime career.
She said, "Here I was still living in one dark room, no money, uncertain of my future, and yet my song was on the radio and I had won a Grammy. If that isn't a dream come true, what is?"
I doubt I'd put "From a Distance" on my winter play list. It’s a pretty song, but I'm more struck by the songwriter than the song. She wasn't pursuing fame or money; she just wanted to write. In an industry where too many actively seek celebrity over substance, and pursue instant fame in favor of a sustainable career, she is an example of someone who put the process ahead of any profits; and personal fulfillment over material success.
Each of us has abilities and talents that we can choose to use…or not…or dreams we can pursue…or not. It’s an easy excuse to say we lack time or opportunity to go after a dream, but that’s a narrative we need to change. Over the last number of months, many have pursued new things because their schedules changed so significantly. But it shouldn’t take a quarantine to make time to chase dreams and pursue passions. We need to re-order our priorities to engage in the pursuit. Not to seek fame or fortune, but instead to grab hold of those intangibles that light us up inside.
From a distance can rightly be said to be part of our soundtrack as we find ourselves social distancing and not necessarily being with those we normally would.
But we should never allow our dreams to be looked at from a distance. We need to keep them close so they can be nurtured. It might be music, carpentry, art, design, leadership or whatever talent has a pull on us that should not be denied. Imagine having the kind of passion for a dream that would have us staring at a piano all night—just waiting for the chance to play.
It would be great if our winter play list was filled not only with the content of others, but with creativity of our own as well. Pursuing a dream that we have not been giving proper attention to will allow us to add our own lyrics into whatever the coming months may bring. That’s my outlook.