Sarah McLachlan

Music is the first thing I feel.

I hear it – and it’s like I feel the ocean, in all its sunlit spots and its cold, impenetrable depths. It’s almost unbearable sometimes. I attach these songs to my heart, and it can drag me down or lift me up – or both.

Sometimes I wonder if I should learn an instrument (I’m flirting with the idea of learning guitar). If I learn one, will it increase my love for music or deflate it?

I suppose I ought to tell you about one time a piece of music moved me.

When I first heard Sarah McLachlan’s Out of Tune, I was in the backseat of my family’s car, and we were driving through a windy coastal road through Oregon. I don’t think I could ever find a better backdrop for the music I love than cold, foggy Pacific Northwestern beaches surounded by windswept trees.

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Photo cred: TeaFirst.com

I was so overcome at that moment, I could actually feel my breath abandoning me in shallow spurts and that familiar tightness behind my eyelids as I listened to Sarah McLachlan’s smooth, ribbon-like voice wrap itself around urgent percussions, somber piano, and swirling guitars.

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The ethereal Sarah

Her use of instrumentation is brilliant as always, but her voice is the absolute best one she has in her arsenal. She has to have one of the most versatile voices I’ve ever heard; she can lull you to sleep with whispers, make your chest feel like it’s about to explode with emotion, or do one of those silky flips she does with her voice going from an alto to a soprano.

In the back of that stuffy car, I was gripped by her words, hearing her plead for reassurance, asking the only one who can “make it right” to stay with her tonight. And I thought, oh my God, why can’t I have that, too? I don’t know who it is that can make things right, but I want it and I need it, I need to feel safe and loved in this confusing world full of turmoil, and oh my God SOMEONE WRAP THEIR ARMS AROUND ME RIGHT NOW because I’m doing the whole one-tear-down-my-cheek-looking-out-at-the-rain-cliche in the back of this stuffy truck, and that is just so cheesy.

I was like, eighteen at the time. I was being kind of dramatic. I had just moved to a whole new country for the third time in my life, had fallen in love for the first time, with an older man nonetheless, and everything just felt raw – and unbelievably cliche, now that I think about it.

Granted, I’m more stable now than I was then. But I still have these overwhelming waves of feeling drown me every now and then, when my soul hears a heartbreaking melody and even more heartbreaking lyrics to go with it.