The Decade the Music Died

Your parents divorce. Your boyfriend reveals he’s gay. You show up to work one day to find the place has shut down.

Some losses are instant and sock it to you in a single blow. Others take more time to unravel, so much so that you don’t even realize you’ve lost something until, one day, you run smack dab into that old thing—that you suddenly realize you no longer have.

I was browsing the clearance racks of Half Price Books last week when I came upon some old CDs I remembered owning growing up. Mostly Christian tunes from the 90s. A dollar apiece? Sure, why not.

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When I put on the old Ashton, Becker, and Dente CD while doing dishes later that night, felt the music swell and my heart tingle, I realized something: I miss this.

I guess I first became vaguely aware of my loss of music when my bff, Samantha, and I were road-tripping one-thousand miles to Minnesota some years back (we’re both transplants to Texas) and she wanted to sing and I didn’t.

Sam and I had grown up singing together, even comprising two-thirds of a Christian trio in our teens. I remember being sixteen, when we’d just been liberated with driver’s licenses, cruising the Podunk town of W, Minnesota, singing at the top of our lungs just because we could.

But now, when we were twenty-six, cruising Interstate 35, and she suggested, “Hey, let’s sing some of our old songs, want to?” all I could do was shrug.

She looked at me quizzically. “You don’t really like to sing anymore, do you, Linds?”

I had never really thought about it. But it was true.

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For that matter, I’m not fond of playing the piano anymore, either.

Not so for the first half of my life.

I started playing piano at age eight, or during the only year my parents pulled me out of public school to try an experiment. During the 1992-93 school year, our church started a “school” that boasted a whopping enrollment of six. My brother and I made up one-third of all students. My mom was the teacher.

Though I was angry that year for being separated from my public school friends, I found at least one redeeming factor in this arrangement: all the pianos.

Maybe it was because I was in rebellion from doing schoolwork—or maybe it was because God had a plan. But for whatever reason, I found myself drawn to those piano keys all year long. When our school enrollment was slashed to 50 percent at Christmas (one family with three kids moved away), I was only too ready to head back to public school. But by then, I’d heard the music, and for the next decade I would play and sing frequently for church, adding in the trumpet during sixth grade, which I would play in various school bands until graduation.

Of our family of four, I was the only one who played any instruments; but with my dad’s love of classic rock, southern gospel, and his growing collection of Christian tunes, our house was, all told, very musical. And it is my dad’s constant playing of music (on stereos and other sound systems) that brings us back to Ashton, Becker, and Dente, or where this journey started.

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One year not long before the family split, Dad enrolled our family in a music club. You know the kind. Before everything went digital, they used to send out sheets of little CD stickers. You could “Choose 12 for the price of 1!” and you literally cut and pasted your selections onto the order form.

Before, Dad had always chosen the soundtrack of our house. But with this membership, we all had a hand in picking the twelve CDs. Some of the CDs we picked are the same ones I found at Half Price Books: Ashton, Becker, and Dente; Point of Grace; Phillips, Craig, and Dean; Geoff Moore and the Distance; Sierra; and more.

Through that music club I was later introduced to some of the Christian artists I still have in my collection today: Jaci Velasquez, Cheri Keaggy, and Steven Curtis Chapman. Others stayed with Dad after Mom left and Kyle went to college and I followed Mom (later to move to Texas, of course).

And until I stumbled upon these relics at the bookstore, I plumb forgot about them. What’s more, I forgot about the happiness those CDs had brought to our home, because we had all chosen them together—one of our last “family projects.”

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Why did I forget? Why is it that ten years have passed largely without the sound of music in my home?

For years it’s like I’ve just shut out this part of my makeup, flat-out denied it was there.

But rediscovering those CDs was like finding old friends. And more than pain, the memories attached to them brought pleasure. This is what healing must be. Writing. Listening. (Playing?) to my roots.

To face my past I can’t avoid the bad memories that, unfortunately, usually flash out at me first. But as I keep going, God is faithful—He takes me back to where I’m meant to be. And little by little, He restores what was lost.

At the end of a quiet decade, regaining my love of music has started with a few old CDs.

Maybe in my thirties I’ll relearn my love of piano, too.

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