Talking about music is kind of like talking about sex: there aren't always the right words.
But as I sat in the famous Cinerama Dome in Hollywood on Thursday night, watching Dave Grohl's music documentary Sound City, a slow sly smile spread across my face. I could feel a true illumination warm my cheeks, a golden rosy glow of happiness as I watched old footage of Stevie Nicks and Mick Fleetwood recording at the Sound City studio in Los Angeles. And for that moment of self-awareness, I had to wonder: Why does this music make me so happy?
Is it simply the emotional ties I have to a childhood full of classic rock; a mother with a stunning voice who sang to us often? I have memories of listening to Fleetwood Mac as a young child, folded in my mom's lap, on the sand in Lake Havasu, driving in the station wagon on dimly lit nights, the glowing lights of Los Angeles reflecting in my eyes.
Perhaps it is the sheer awe that weighs on me like an anchor when I hear beautiful words sung from someone's mouth. The Joni Mitchells, the Paul Simons. The way time absolutely stops. And as the documentary unfolded, I sensed an eerie feeling of belonging; a connection to the past, a rootedness keeping me heavy in my seat, my hand frozen above the popcorn bucket in my lap.
Music takes my breath away. That's not an expression. It actually takes my breath away. I've given it a direct line to my beating heart and when I hear a magical song, it feels like my chest is being cracked open -- ice cubes popped quickly out of a plastic freezer tray.
And I realize I've seen too many films with too many montages, because now I'm traveling back through my life, witnessing moments when music has altered me. Singing Johnny Cash in the snow buried deep in Vermont winters in college, hearing Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Have You Ever Seen The Rain," Tom Petty's "Free Fallin," Nirvana's "Drain You," The Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Tearjerker." And all of these musicians recorded at Sound City. All of these musicians are brought to life on the gigantic screen and watching this documentary, I realize I am overwhelmed.
I'm a nostalgia junkie, yes. The recognition that something is lost or disappeared makes it more romantic. I have stomach pains for the past. And many of the bands in Sound City go down as some of the greatest in history. I can't recall the last time a new album vibrated through me like so many of these greats did. The moments are few and far between. Where have all the rock gods gone?
After the film's Thursday night premiere, people headed a few blocks east to the Hollywood Palladium where Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters took the stage with everyone from Rick Springfield to Lee Ving, John Fogerty to Stevie Nicks. And when Stevie hauntingly crooned her acoustic version of "Landslide," bringing tears to the audience's eyes, all I could do was I close mine and take a deep breath.