If you know me at all, you know I like to joke around self-deprecatingly about how I missed an entire decade of music. Ah, the 80s, how I wish we could have been friends. And really, if I’m honest any music pre-2000 would be considered risky in a game of Trivial Pursuit. At social gatherings, I have been known to smile politely or nod knowingly with my most sincere face, “Oh yes, I love that Prince…he’s just. so. talented…ahem,” quietly hoping no one will ask me to recite his discography. Currently, I can confidently name one song.
If you are still unconvinced of my utter ignorance, let me provide you with further evidence:
- Did you know Tracy Chapman is a girl? (Fact learned: Spring 2010)
- Or that the White Stripes brother-sister duo are NOT brother and sister? (Fact Learned: February 2011)
- Or that “Landslide” was not in fact originally sung by the Dixie Chicks, but rather it was written by Stevie Nicks, who was in the band Fleetwood Mack. (Fact Learned: YESTERDAY!).
To the horror of 89.3 The Current listeners and hipsters everywhere, I must confess GLEE has become an educational experience for me. It’s like cliffnotes for music. I can hear the collective outcry: “Oh, the sacrilege!” Desperate measures, people, desperate measures.
All that to say, you may love DMC because of (I had to google this) Run-DMC and songs like “It’s Like That” or “Jam Master Jam.” I personally know him from The Moth, one of my favorite podcasts which consists solely of true stories told by real people–some famous, some not so famous. DMC was featured on one of these podcasts, and I fell in love with him instantly. He talks openly about an extremely dark period in his life, when he was suicidal and had virtually lost all hope. It was during this time when he first discovered the music of Sarah McLachlan. In fact, he refused to listen to anything but her for several years and credits her music with saving his life. (You must listen to the full story in his own words.)
I was struck by a couple of things while listening to his story. First, and rather obviously, I was reminded that music has the power to transcend differences and time, which is good news for late-bloomers like me. Even if I didn’t hear Closer to Fine until 16 years after it was released or even if I didn’t know about Lauryn Hill until after the Fujees brokeup and after she had retired from her solo career, I can still experience their music for the first time and be inspired.
I’m also reminded of the importance of storytelling and of listening to others’ stories. How else can we experience the interconnectedness of humanity? If DMC hadn’t told Sarah McLachlan about the powerful role her music had played in his life, he may have never discovered that they shared something essential in common: they were both adopted. Sometimes in an effort to maintain our illusion of security, we hide behind walls, which inevitably alienate and distance us from the very people that could be a part of our deliverance and fulfillment. Thankfully, in the case of DMC his humility and honesty eventually led him to collaborating on a song with Sarah and to later forming a foundation to support other adopted or fostered children.