I was working in the kitchen earlier today, and Jon was in the parlor, laying in the recently installed hospital bed, listening to Neil Young. Searching for songs of comfort is such a personal thing. I can’t listen to the “Music Heals” special days that they run on KEXP, regardless of the theme: addiction, mental health, or more relative to Jon’s current experience, cancer. I have found that what other people find soothing, I can find grating or triggering. I’ve seen some shit, I guess.
Lady Gaga figured heavily in my recovery from trauma 10 years ago. “Just dance, it will be OK.” It was my anthem. It was my “power song” while training for a half marathon. I’d turn it up and it soothed my soul in a way not much else could. One of these days I’ll request “Just Dance” during a “Music Heals” day and wait feverishly for it to be played on KEXP. There’s a few DJs that might indulge.
Tonight I started with Soundgarden’s Superunknown. Chris Cornell’s death a few years go hit me harder than I ever anticipated. I wasn’t a Soundgarden super-fan. In my teens, I don’t think I would have ranked them in my top five, but I think that Chris Cornell was perhaps like someone that I saw all the time, never talked to, but knew somehow we could see each other. Great music, great art does that. The modern parlance is to “feel seen.” Maybe I didn’t want him to see me – maybe I didn’t really want to see him.
After all, what gutted me the most was that I thought he had beaten the monster. He had survived when so many others had not. Beaten is incorrect – I mean – he was still struggling for sure – but he had that beast under control. Managed. Until he didn’t. Like Anthony Bourdain, the raw openness of that pain experienced was such a burden for them and also touched and saved so many people.
I don’t know exactly why I’m going on about this right now. I’m laying on a makeshift foam bed, on the floor, listening to Soundgarden while my husband drifts off in the other room, recovering from intense surgery, taking our next steps towards treating his cancer tomorrow.
Make the music loud. Make it encompassing. Tell the truth. Let us know we’re not alone. Let us continue the fight when those who have been beaten down have left us.