This article will make more sense if you read it while listening to the accompanying playlist, that J curated himself. Before you hit play, close your eyes, think for a few seconds about the first song that made you feel like you were part of something bigger than yourself. A song that felt like it was written for you. Was the song a song that you heard on the radio? Was it a song from a tv show that you loved as a kid? Was it a song from a movie or a video game?
Music has a way of taking you to a deeper level of existence. It has the power to invoke any emotion at any time. It has the power to enhance every single feeling you have ever felt. Music can bring back memories of times long since forgotten. Music is an integral part of life. In my opinion, without music, life has no soul. It is my opinion that music, more specifically music from geek/nerd culture, can not only do everything that I mentioned above, but it can do so much more.
There was a time in our lives, when J knew nothing about Star Wars, comic books, Doctor Who, Marvel Studios, etc. In that time, I was so nervous that I was going to find some way to mess up that I made sure that we read all the “Baby’s First” books, listened to all different kinds of instrumental music, and watched Sesame Street video after Sesame Street video. While he seemed to enjoy all those activities, they never seemed to keep him engaged for more that 5 minutes. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking to yourself, “James, you were being way too hard on yourself as a first-time parent. Nothing is going to keep a that young of a child’s attention for more than 5 minutes.” I myself was coming to that train of thought myself, until one magical day.
One day, after my wife (at the time) had left for work, I fed J, gave him a bath and sat him in his little chair so I could do some cleaning around the house. At the time, we had a dishwasher that didn’t really work that well, so I mostly washed the dishes by hand. I had the tv tuned to the local news channel so I could have some background noise while I was doing the chores, and I was turning and talking to J every now and then to keep him from getting upset. Nothing I did was working to keep him still. After about 10 minutes I decided I wanted to listen to some music instead of the tv, so I grabbed my laptop, logged into Spotify, and played the soundtracks from Star Wars: A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back.
In what seemed like an instant, J’s demeanor seemed to change. No longer was he frustratingly swaying in his seat, he seemed to have a calm about him. It looked like his imagination was taking over, helping him to create a story to go along with the music we were listening to. His body language would change with the songs as if he knew exactly was happening in the scenes that the songs came from. A smile went across his face as we listened to Leia’s Theme, and he got a nervous when the Imperial March started playing. It was such an interesting sight to see. This became our daily routine for about a year.
Right before J turned 4, I decided it was time to show him A New Hope and Empire. We popped some popcorn, got some juice, turned on our TV and VCR, and watched both movies back to back. J seemed like he wasn’t sure what was going on, that is until the main theme hit. His eyes instantly widened and he looked at me and said, “I know this song!!” J was on the edge of his seat for every shot of a blaster and swing of a lightsaber. It was amazing to see J’s reactions when he would recognize the songs, but what was even more amazing was that the next time we listened to just the soundtrack, J was able to describe almost everything that was happened during the accompanying scenes. This is something that has continued to happen with every other Star Wars film and even transferred to almost every single Marvel film and even the Harry Potter films.
Not only is J able to tell you what is happening in the scenes of the songs are in, but he has now started creating his own stories to go along with his favorite music. This doesn’t just happen with film scores, but also with video game music. J will sit in his room, create playlists on our Spotify account filled with music from and inspired by his favorite games. Whenever he is listening to this music, he is either drawing characters from those video games, or he is making the most amazing creations with his LEGOs.
Music is the lifeblood for a lot of the things we create in our home. When I am making a costume for J, I am listening to the soundtrack of whatever show, movie, or game that character is in. It inspires me to keep going when I don’t think I can. It helps me push through the creative mental blocks and makes me think outside the box for new solutions. Music from these movies, games, and tv shows has created a bond between J and I that will never be broken. No matter what happens in this life, whenever he hears certain songs, he will think of me and of the love we had for our geeky culture.