I have a student who claims that shared tastes in music are essential for relationships today. You couldn’t possibly marry someone who didn’t like the music you like, since, as you may have noticed, young people today are almost always listening to music.
Well, Katie and I celebrate our 37th anniversary today and I want you to know we’ve made it with no shared musical taste whatsoever. I like Lenard Cohen and she likes Bing Crosby, if that tells you anything.
I like jazz and blues, blue grass, and Celtic. She likes show tunes and popular songs from the fifties. We seldom listen to music together. We like it at different speeds and different volumes.
But we really, really like each other, even if we have never shared a taste for some sub-genre or Indie band.
We don’t even have a “song,” as common as that was in our day. No remembered glances across the room as the band played on. Music played no part in our courtship whatsoever.
But we do have a story. I’ve told it before.
And that story, with its ups and downs, with its riffs of better and worse, richer and poorer, sickness and health, is powerful music at some level. It’s rhythm gets me up in the morning and keeps me going in the day.
We have had verses of melancholy and of joy, with a refrain of faithfulness and commitment. It binds our hearts in harmonies that reflects a grace beyond ourselves, and having it or wanting it has motivated just about every song you can hear on the radio, whether it streams off some website or over the airways.
No, we don’t have a song.
But I think she might.
Several years ago when I was in the hospital and she thought I was going to die, when the surgeons were scaring her and not talking to me, she started sitting up late and night playing “That’s All” on the piano.
Nat King Cole recorded it the year I was born. So has Michael Buble more recently.
“I can only give you love that lasts forever, And a promise to be near each time you call,” it begins.
But the lyrics were not what I heard, lying upstairs on the bed recovering. It was the haunting tune drifting up the stairs late at night, as she prayed and wept for me. It was one of those sickness or health moments we had promised each other.
And still do.
It ends this way:
If you’re wondering what I’m asking in return, dear,
You’ll be glad to know that my demands are small.
Say it’s me that you’ll adore
For now and ever more
That’s all, that’s all.
So, Katie, as we start our 38th year, let me say thank you for giving me so much more than a song. For a faithful heart, I honor you.
But there is something more. It is you that I’ll adore, for now and ever more.