Songs pick up pieces of our lives and give form to them. Sometimes, they freeze the present moment, others they send us wandering back through our past, still others they leave us pondering what will happen next. This blog is about the ways we get caught up in a web of songs that hold us in place for a time. When those webs break loose, we fall through them, endlessly heading downward as in a dream. These moments come often to some, less often to others, but they inevitably leave us with a longing to be found and waiting to be lifted back into place. These are the moments when we most long for a song.
I lived in Nashville for about 15 years. Nashville is a city where songs are a business. The business rules, but there are still the dreamers who go there to find an audience for their art. For most of us, songs are neither. For some, they are a distraction, for others a rhythm to keep them spinning through life, and for some of us they are a kind of life blood, essential for expressing the ups and downs of our lives. I am one of this last group and if you hear yourself in my description, you may be too.
My name is David Eason and I was a professor for many years. I am retired now and live in Chicago. My plan here is to write about my own experience with songs as a way of exploring my life. One of the gifts I hope to receive in return are a few words about what has happened to you.
My posts generally follow one of two forms. Most are stories of 1,500 words or so. A few are much shorter and describe scenes from my life. There is a bittersweet quality to many of my stories. I am sometimes not sure whether this is because that is how life is or whether it is just the kind of story I tell best.
These stories don’t have much to do with university life, but their origins may lie in some media studies courses I taught and in some writing I did while I was a professor. I first had a glimmer of this subject when I was teaching at the University of Utah in the mid-80s. During that time, I edited a journal titled Critical Studies in Mass (now Media) Communication. I started writing editor’s notes that were personal, very much like the writing I do here. Some thought such personal expression was inappropriate in the front of a group of academic essays. According to a rumor, I was almost removed from my post tor for inserting the personal into a place that had no room for it. I taught a couple of courses on Popular Music and Society at Middle Tennessee State University and later at Loyola University of Chicago and I have written on music for the Oxford American. I also wrote the introduction to Nashville’s Lower Broadway: The Street That Music Made (Washington: Smithsonian Books), 2004. Still, none of this particularly qualifies me to write this blog. A blog like this requires no degrees or specialties because what I write about here is what is left over after all the theorizing is done, the brute fact we live and struggle and long to understand it all and the poets of song often give us both words and rhythm for doing so.