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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Booby Traps in Your I-Pod

Micah's graduation picture - in full kilt!
Within the modern day mp3 archives that we music lovers collect on our I-Pods (or in my case on my cell phone's mp3 music player) there lie little booby traps.  Thanks to we can now buy songs individually for 50 cents to a dollar instead of having to buy a whole album just to get two or three "good ones".  In this way, over time, we amass vast collections of incredibly eclectic music. This always amazes me a little, given that it didn't cost any more to put that big a music collection together 40 years later than it did to collect 45 rpm single records back when I was a high school kid. Not only that, but you don't even have the cost of a trip to the record store to factor in.

You can even collect free music from indie musicians you happen to like but the big record moguls don't particularly care for. As a result, I have banjo versions of Bear Necessities and All of Me, alongside several Doris Day hits, the theme to Dark Star (an obscure 1960s era sci-fi film and all my favorite hits by the Monkees and the Beatles; not to mention a miraculous duet with Placido Domingo and John Denver. I even scooped up an all-acoustic version of the Beatles playing Norwegian Wood. How cool is that?

Today's increasingly off-the-books music distribution system must make record company moguls frantic as they lose more and more control over whether or not an artist's music actually finds its way out to the public. You see, these days, the public listens to what it wants rather than waiting for record companies to tell us what we want to hear. No record company, for instance, would sell me a banjo version of Those Were the Days, the theme song to the TV show "All in the Family". Songs that are "golden oldies" need no longer wait for some "Greatest Hits" collection ot come out in order to get our hands on our favorite music. We can go online, buy and download the songs we like instantly. And I can even throw in a recording of a kid I used to teach in Sabbath School singing Amazing Grace/My Chains Are Gone at church or another one of my son and daughter with some friends singing a song called Miracle that my late son wrote with his brother. That one always makes me cry, but in a good way.

That's what I mean about booby traps. We often salt our music collections with songs that mean something to us - everything from "our song", a relic of our courting days, to one of our kids' favorite songs. One of those got me this morning. In 2006 we lost our middle son, Micah, a big bear of a young man who, at 28, stood 6'4" and was close to 300 pounds. When he was in high school, he wasn't exactly tiny - a big ebullient larger-than-life personality and a fun guy. He was incredibly shy, but covered it by being class clown and something of a show-off.

My mp3 player a few minutes ago rolled out M.C. Hammer's "Can't Touch This", one of Micah's favorite songs. You haven't seen anything till you've seen a kid Micah's size doing Hammer's moves to this song. And the boy had some amazing moves for someone his bulk. He played on his school's basketball team and had some muscles on him that used to fool opponents. These wiry little guys would rush him when he was defending the key, figuring they could topple him pretty easily. More than one wound up sitting on his butt on the boards, having struck what felt like a brick wall. They used to cry to the referees for a foul call. I remember one ref standing over one such prostrate whiner, "Hey dude, you're the one who decide to run into him." He pointed at Micah, "You need a little physics refresher there, son."

Micah also did a creditable "Electric Slide". These tiny little girls would drag him out on the floor at parties and get him to lead the "Electric Slide". It used to make him happy. He was pretty good at it too.

Micah had a lot of sadness in his short life. I think about those young women and the way they pulled him into the center of the action and encouraged him. They gave him confidence and, in a way, the courage, at the end of his life, to recommit himself to Christ. I am so grateful to Micah's friends for their love and acceptance of my son. A lot of big kids don't get that. He did. It's like you all knew somehow, how much he needed your support and love.

Micah (right) leading the girls' basketball team fight song from the stands!

That's why I was standing in my kitchen this morning listening to Hammer going, "Can't Touch This!" and crying like a big, hairy, white-headed 61 year-old baby.
Some people avoid songs that do that to them, even though we inevitably salt our music collections with songs just like that. I don't avoid the emotion when that happens. I let the song run all the way through. Sometimes I turn it up and go ahead and weep without restraint. Sometimes you need that.

It kind of flushes you out emotionally. We miss our lost loved ones. It's good that we do. I don't want to forget a single thing about my son. To me it's evidence that we weren't designed to lose people we love. We were designed to live forever; to always be able to turn around and find those beloved people right there, ready to make another day special and joyous.

I'm ready to see this mess of a world come to an end and to start up a new one. Maybe God will let me plant trees for the new Earth. I always wanted to design a forest. Maybe the kids and I can do it together. Mom can supervise. I'll bring the tunes...

Tom King
(c) 2015

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