Music for the Long and Winding Road

Over the next month,  writers and musicians  from around the world will join us every Wednesday to share their love of music through the written word.

Today I am happy to introduce to you Lisa Listwa, a retired teacher, freelance writer and wife of a musician, who talks the importance of music as we travel through life’s journey.

Music for the Long and Winding Road


Life is a journey.

It’s a lot like a road trip. Some of the best road trips are along those long and winding roads we find when we aren’t looking to go any place in particular. But no matter the destination, if you’re taking a road trip, you need one essential thing: your tunes.

Music is part of my heritage. I come from a musical background on both sides of my family and I am married to a musician. Music has always played a major part in my life. I grew up listening to music of all kinds. I am blessed to have had the opportunity from childhood on to attend concerts, plays, recitals, jam sessions, and more. I have experienced music live and recorded, in formal concert settings and at backyard barbecues. Music is always there.

If you asked me to tell you my favorite kind of music, I would be hard pressed to tell you. I find it difficult to choose only one favorite when it comes to music. There is no way I can define a favorite. What I like best depends on my mood. It depends on the day. It depends on what I had for breakfast, what the weather is like outside, and what I have to get done before I pick up my daughter from school. To focus on my writing, I might choose the spa channel from the Internet radio station. To clean the house, I’m going with Bon Jovi or Aerosmith. If I want to relax on a Sunday afternoon, I might pull Bach from the shelf. For a walk outside, I might opt for the Beatles. If I want to work out some frustration I’m going with Beethoven’s Fifth.

When it comes to style or genre, there are so many I have loved. I enjoy listening to anything. My tastes range from classical and baroque to jazz standards and rock. I will listen to bubble-gum pop, hard rock, indie pop, alternative or anything else you throw at me.

An eclectic mix of people and circumstances allowed me the pleasure of enjoying a variety of tastes. I’ve heard it all. My mom played classical piano as well as Sunday church music. My paternal grandfather loved John Philip Sousa and concert band music. I remember the distinct sound of those marches played on a 78 turntable. I remember dancing around my grandparents’ living room to ‘40s dance music. I learned the hits of the easy listening station when my grandfather took his naps. I know the words to my parents’ favorites from the ‘50s and ’60s. I had teenage uncles and learned to love the ’70s greats they listened to after school in the afternoon. I can sing along to a large offering of ‘80s and ’90s radio hits that span my teens and early twenties. I can play “Name That Tune” with the standards of the Real Book and might make a pretty good showing if that game show still existed.

Music underscores every moment of my life, it seems. Some songs make me think of certain people – an old friend, my first crush, my mom, my husband, my daughter. I remember certain songs attached to a long list of particular events. I know the songs that played on the day I learned to ride a bike and the day I got my driver’s license. I can tell you song that played when I had my first slow dance with a boy. I remember what we listened to at lunchtime during summer band practices. I remember the songs from my father and grandparents’ funerals.

If you think about it, I would be willing to bet you could say the same. Take a few moments to imagine a time in your life – any time. Recall the details. Picture the scene. Now listen to the music – what’s playing?

Music provides the soundtrack for our lives. It is an essential part of our human makeup and provides everything we need in life – words, melody, and rhythm. Music makes us laugh and cry, sing and dance. It inspires, delights, and entertains us. It can soothe and comfort us. It can bring us to our knees. In a human heart there is so much emotion; in a human mind there are so many ideas. We need something as sensitive and powerful as music to bring it all together and help us make sense of our journey through life.

We need music for the long and winding road.

 Lisa A. Listwa

Lisa is a wife, mother, and self-employed recovering high school English teacher. She works as a freelance writer, editor, and tutor.

Lisa lives with her husband, her daughter, and three Rotten Cats. She spends her time stacking the pile of books to read ever higher, wondering if she should have been a chef, and trying to figure out where she last left her damn cell phone.

Lisa writes about life and all its fascinations and banalities at her blog, The Meaning of Me. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

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40 Responses to “Music for the Long and Winding Road”

  1. beth teliho March 4, 2015 at 5:29 pm #

    Beautiful guest post, Lisa!!! Congrats!! I just had a convo with the hubs yesterday about music and people who are supremely connected to it, as he is and you are. Fascinating because I don’t consider myself among that group. I love music, but I don’t have the connection others seem to. He wants to do a playlist for my novel, and I didn’t think people would care two cents. I got a lecture as to why I was wrong!!

    • Lisa @ The Meaning of Me March 5, 2015 at 12:55 am #

      Thanks, Beth! Everyone connects with music in their own very personal way. I think a playlist for the book would be amazing. The answer I would give is very likely what your hubs told you – at least that’s my guess. It just gives another level of personal interaction and experience to the book. It’s kind of like buying the soundtrack for a movie.

  2. Christine March 4, 2015 at 6:40 pm #

    When I was a kid, I was so impressed with my dad’s ability to hear a song and list off the year it came out and where he was when he heard it. I get it now. I can do the same thing. Music can’t be separated from us.

  3. Julia Tomiak March 4, 2015 at 6:48 pm #

    Music has a ton of power. I try to use it to send me down the “right” road. If I’m tired and cranky, I use peppy tunes or Christian music to inspire me. When stress hits, cue Norah Jones, please. (My daughter knows this about me and puts it on when I’ve been snappy. She also likes to listen to jazz to help her fall asleep sometimes, so hopefully, I’m passing the music love down. 😉

    • Lisa @ The Meaning of Me March 5, 2015 at 12:58 am #

      Julia, music is like reading in that respect – if we listen to it and love it and our kids see us, it is very likely that they will listen to it and love it, too. We’ve seen that with our daughter in both music and reading.
      I think it’s great that your daughter knows what works for you and puts on the tunes you need!

  4. Stephanie @ Life, Unexpectedly March 4, 2015 at 8:38 pm #

    Love everythign you say, Lisa! Unfortunately, my memories of music in my childhood are mostly dire, because my mom’s taste in music is extremely distatesful, and she was mostly in charge of the stereo and radio. But every once in a while, when Dad would unpack his old vinyl, I got a glimps of the world beyond my mom’s audio-torture. Today, I, too, am married to a musician, and we are raising the kids as well with tons of music of a large variety of styles.

    • Lisa @ The Meaning of Me March 5, 2015 at 1:00 am #

      I love that story, Stephanie. Musical memories stick, whether they are positive ones or otherwise. I’d kind of like to know what your mom’s picks were! There is nothing like a vinyl record, if you ask me.
      Cheers for the musicians’ families!

  5. Dani March 4, 2015 at 10:10 pm #

    This totally resonates with me, Lisa:

    “Take a few moments to imagine a time in your life – any time. Recall the details. Picture the scene. Now listen to the music – what’s playing?”

    There is always something playing, whether it’s traditional music or the music of heartbeats and souldrops.

    Thrilled to get to know you better through this post.


    • Lisa @ The Meaning of Me March 5, 2015 at 1:01 am #

      Hi, Dani. Thanks for your really sweet comment. I’m glad you liked that little exercise. That’s kind of how life is for me – I know there is always some musical connection.

  6. Jen @ Driftwood Gardens March 5, 2015 at 1:28 am #

    My parents were total hippies and I grew up with music ALWAYS. While I was reading this it came to mind that when my daughter was in the NICU the song “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton was popular and it put me in tears every. single. time. It’s incredible the effect music has on our lives and our memories. I love this post and your shared experience with music in your life.

    • Lisa @ The Meaning of Me March 5, 2015 at 5:39 pm #

      Thanks, Jen. I don’t remember ever NOT listening to music. There’s a song that was played at my Grandmother’s funeral that gets used near Easter at our church and it gets me sobbing every time. But there are also songs that get me happy, no matter what. Silly, but things like “Mm-Bop” by that kid group Hansen from years ago and “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves always boost my mood.
      I have really enjoyed hearing what other people have to say about music in their lives. It’s something that is universal and connects us all, no matter who we are or where we come from.

  7. dyannedillon March 5, 2015 at 1:46 am #

    Want to know my favorite thing about this post? YOUR PICTURE AT THE END! Look how cute you are!
    Isn’t it funny how a song can take you back in time, as though everything were standing still around you? There are songs that make me smile, songs that make me blush, songs that make me dance and sing, and some that can even make me cry. Still.
    I am rusty now after nearly 18 years away from the music business, but there was a time when i could tell you the name of almost any song, the artist, year of release and who owned the master recording for songs released from 1960-1990 or so. When I didn’t need to know that information anymore as a stay at home mom, it mostly floated away from me.
    Congratulations on your first guest blog! I’ve only been asked once (Clark), and then I think he was probably sorry, because I talked about my ovaries.

    • Lisa @ The Meaning of Me March 5, 2015 at 5:42 pm #

      Dyanne, I did not know this little music business tidbit about you…I am going to ask you about that, definitely. That’s pretty fascinating.
      And yes, it is amazing how a song can transport you from here to any place in your life. Music has great power in so many ways.

  8. ilirianwanderer March 5, 2015 at 2:50 am #

    Like someone said, music washes away the dust of daily life 🙂

    Lovely read Lisa 🙂

    Thank you!

    • Lisa @ The Meaning of Me March 7, 2015 at 4:57 am #

      Oh, I like that saying! It really does, doesn’t it? Thanks, Poojah! I’m glad you came over to read.

  9. March 5, 2015 at 5:37 am #

    This is just so beautifully written As I read your words, I am drawn back to many memories and songs that are associated with them. Oh, how I can define so much of my timeline using songs!!

    Music is so very powerful, in all our lives!! THIS is why I became a music therapist… oh the power of music to not only be used to facilitate expression and reconcile memories, but it heals. I have witnessed the power of music in countless lives for years, using music as a tool, a medium, and a launching ground for dialogue, when these precious patients couldn’t find the words.

    • Lisa @ The Meaning of Me March 5, 2015 at 5:56 pm #

      Well this post has been wonderful in so many ways, Chris. I had no idea you were a music therapist! That’s fascinating – and such a wonderful field. I know I’ve said this already here, but music has such unbelievable power to do so many things and the examples you give are just a few of so may. Thanks for coming over to read and comment!

  10. Clark Scottroger March 5, 2015 at 10:06 am #

    could not agree more about how integral music is/can be/should be in a person’s life. (re-reading that last sentence), it occurred to me that this statement applies to everyone, whether they recognize it not!.
    I’m with you on liking all forms of music (well, ok…. maybe you should leave yodeling off my list of loved music)…and even that, given the right circumstances…lol
    (when I was young, my parents used to say, as a lot of our parents did, “sure the Beatles are accomplished musicians, but you can’t understand what they’re singing”. And I couldn’t understand how they could say that.
    Eventually I came to understand that they could not, in fact, understand the lyrics, because they were not willing to listen to the new music, ‘as new music’…. to learn about, become familiar with the style… (I found that out later in my own life when I decided that maybe opera was not stupid. lol
    something about being open to the new and novel, learning the style goes a long way

    great discussionationing Post!

    • Lisa @ The Meaning of Me March 5, 2015 at 6:23 pm #

      Clark, thanks for clicking over here and thanks for your comment – I just love it.
      I have to agree that even the forms of music I would list as my non-likes I can enjoy given the right circumstances. All things have their place, right?
      Your point about your parents not hearing the lyrics because they were perhaps unwilling to hear it is a great one and applies to not only music, but many other avenues of life as well – politics, religion, and the list goes on. Being open to other ideas – musical or otherwise – is an important part of understanding one another. The world could use more of that.

  11. Eli Pacheco March 5, 2015 at 3:32 pm #

    This is so true. Just hearing a song from a time in your life can bring back all the memories, happy or sad. Music appreciation was a gift from dad that I share with my girls, too.

    • Lisa @ The Meaning of Me March 5, 2015 at 6:27 pm #

      That’s one of the things about music that is so wonderful, Eli – it connects generations, even if the music they love varies. We pass on those things from one generation to the next and it is a foundation for communication in so many other areas. Thanks for coming over!

      • Eli Pacheco March 5, 2015 at 9:22 pm #

        It’s cool to hear my daughter sing songs my dad introduced me to.

        • Lisa @ The Meaning of Me March 6, 2015 at 4:03 am #

          Agreed. I love when my daughter sings songs with my mom. It could be anything, but I particularly like the real oldies Mom teaches her – some that were my grandparents’ favorites! I feel like it kind of keeps them alive with us.

          • Eli Pacheco March 7, 2015 at 1:51 pm #

            It does keep them alive with us – when my daughters sing early Beatles songs, I imagine my dad as a teen loving that music, and how his parents probably hated it the way I hate some of the contemporary stuff my kids listen to!

  12. amycake76 March 5, 2015 at 6:54 pm #

    I’m here!!! I do feel the same as you about music transporting me to other times or bringing people to mind. My parents just attended their yearly “Sib Weekend” (my dad’s five siblings and spouses) at my uncle’s farm and one of them organized an activity (my family’s really into games) for which everyone sent in two songs in advance, one that others would certainly predict was a favorite and one that was also a favorite but of a genre that others would not expect the person to like. Was that clear? Grammar hard there. Anyhow, it was so fun to hear what people picked.
    A few years ago Brian made a double CD mix for me of hits from the 90s. That’s the only time in my life that I have really known the most popular music on the radio and listening to those CDs transports me back to high school and college. I love that album.

    • Lisa @ The Meaning of Me March 6, 2015 at 4:02 am #

      You’re here – yay!
      That game sounds awesome, Sarah. I love that! I need to save that for future reference.
      What a sweet album Brian made for you. I love those. I remember making mix tapes (actual tapes, mind you) when I was in junior high and high school and even after that. Remember the days when you’d have to buy an entire album to get “that one song” and record it on your cassette tape? Or listen to the radio, hoping to catch it and hit “record” before the lyrics began? Memories…

  13. Kristi Campbell - findingninee March 6, 2015 at 4:44 am #

    So so so true. I used to cohost a hop (now gone) about music. The sound tracks of my life are more there than the memories so often!! I remember the first boy I loved. In the Air Tonight by Phil Collins. Playing. Awesome and amazing.

    • Lisa @ The Meaning of Me March 7, 2015 at 4:59 am #

      Yup, I think you’re right, Kristi. Even when the memories aren’t there, the songs are. Always for me. And often it’s the music that brings back the memories. When you talked about the first boy you love just now and mentioned the song? A whole flood of memories of a junior high love came rushing back to me – I had quite forgotten all of it! It IS awesome and amazing.

  14. Michelle Liew March 6, 2015 at 2:19 pm #

    Glad to know a fellow musician!! Can’t live without it, Lisa!

    • Lisa @ The Meaning of Me March 7, 2015 at 5:00 am #

      I agree, Michelle. And I don’t think I knew that about you. We’ll have to talk about this more!

  15. Dana March 6, 2015 at 8:41 pm #

    Music is tied to so many of my oldest and truest memories. Just hearing a song on the radio brings me to that moment in time. They say that the sense of smell is tied most closely to memories, but I think music trumps that.

    • Lisa @ The Meaning of Me March 7, 2015 at 5:07 am #

      Tough call on that one, Dana. I do have some memories linked strongly to smell…lilacs bring me right back to my grandparents’ yard. But as I think about it, yeah, I think more of my memories go along with music. I love how powerful it is and how universal – no matter how different our tastes may be, we can all relate to music in some way and the connection is there.

  16. ivywalker March 7, 2015 at 10:38 am #

    Wow Lisa. ..great post. It feels like I got to know you a little better! I’m not really all that connected to music. I have to be really careful with it. It gets stuck for months and is quite literally a constant background in my head. My background for years now has been yellow submarine!

    • Lisa @ The Meaning of Me March 7, 2015 at 7:04 pm #

      But what a great tune to get stuck, Ivy! I can think of worse. I’m glad this gave you more of a snapshot of me. I can always talk music…always.

  17. valj2750 March 7, 2015 at 10:58 pm #

    I love this post. I love every kind of music as well, Spa, classical, rap, pop, oldies, blues – maybe not so much country. Right now I’m listening to Cat Stevens (the video on Girlie on the Edge’s blog) as I read and comment.

    • Lisa @ The Meaning of Me March 9, 2015 at 3:30 am #

      Hi, Val. I think there’s a type of music for every person for every mood and occasion. That’s the beauty of it – truly something for everyone, no matter your taste. That reminds me…I need to get to Girlie’s blog post!


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