Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Lately, my nine year old daughter Emma has been playing the 1967 Tammi Terrell and Marvin Gaye hit "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" at least once every time we are together playing music which is at least 3 times per week. Like many around the world, I love this song but possibly for different reasons.
This song and many others from that era of music when Motown rocked America's airways is particularly special to me because it connects me to my mom, Betty Jean Jackson, who passed away in 1976 at the age of 24.
You see, because I didn't know my mom - I have been piecing together her life over the last 20 years from chats with her sister, the few pictures that I have been able to gather and most notably, through music.
Music paints a picture and adds a soundtrack to life.
Think about it. We all do it.
A song plays on the radio and we think about where we were at the time when that song was always being played the first time. We think of people who were part of our lives, conversations that took place with that song playing in the background. No matter where you are when ____________________ by ______________ comes on you are whisked back to that moment in time.
I do that with music from Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. The Supremes. The Jackson Five and especially with the song in the video above.
Picture it - 1967. My mom was in high school probably her 2nd or 3rd year as I have no real records to confirm. This song most likely was her dream for love. For the man who would whisk her away and love her like no other. Like all teenage girls in that day.
Ironically, Tammi Terrell was very close in age to my mom. Six years between them. In fact, little did my mom know (at that time) they would both share the same fate of death at age 24 shortly before their 25th birthdays. Perhaps that's the other reason the song carries deeper meaning for me.
Not only does this song speak to me about my mom's life at that time - her dreams, her wants, who she was but it carries a "secret" message to me. Those lyrics say, "If you need me, call me - no matter where you are, no matter how far..."
Through this song my mom tells me to reach out for her when I miss her.
Mourn her when I need to... talk to her when I have no one else.
Because she cares and would have done anything to be here with me.
Even now just hearing the start of the song brings tears. I always struggled to explain the emotion to my daughter until I stopped to think about it for this post.
Some music carries messages to us from dear love ones that is hard to articulate but we feel it deeply. I embrace this song and many others from that era as they hold the answers to questions my soul longs to hear directly from my mom. And until we meet again...
Tammi Terrell and Marvin Gaye's recorded hits serve as her mouthpiece to my heart.