Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Songs That Remind Me Of People/Times - "Make Your Own Kind of Music"

Have you ever had certain songs remind you of people or a time in your life because, for whatever reason, the song is so closely associated with that person and/or time?

Ok, maybe I'm the only weirdo, just indulge me.

Driving around Iowa I've had a lot of opportunities to listen to oldies stations on the radio (it seems like every city has such a station, which is great) and I found myself thinking back to times and people in my past that I associate with certain songs.

"Make Your Own Kind Of Music" was released in 1969 by Mama Cass Elliot when I was 14 years old. While I have enjoyed listening to it through the years, it never really made a connection to someone in my life until a few years ago, when the lyrics made me think of how much it could be applicable to my grandson Mikey.

I was watching the TV series "Lost" one night with Cindy and there was a scene where someone in the bunker was playing an old LP album by Mama Cass of the Mamas and the Papas, and particularly the song, "Make Your own kind of music". Sitting on the couch, it suddenly seemed as if the words were specifically about my autistic grandson. Especially the part:

"You're gonna be knowing
the loneliest kind of lonely.
It may be rough goin',
just to do your thing's
the hardest thing to do."


Longtime readers know that Mikey is an Asperger Syndrome child, highly intelligent but with real challenges in correctly reading, understanding and responding to social cues and with issues sometimes, because of those challenges, when it comes to behavior.

There's no way around it; I know he is going to be facing pressures throughout school and life because of the Aspergers. Especially because kids can be cruel and vicious to those who do not "fit in" and Mikey won't be like everyone else. He'll be called, at the least, a "nerd" and at the worst a "retard" because social interaction will not be his strong point. I've already had to steel myself with the thought that, no matter how angry it makes me, I won't be able to go beat the crud out of parents who don't teach their children better or, later on, older kids and adults themselves to treat him badly. I have to remind myself of that every time I think about it in an attempt to burn the message into my mind so it's there when I start to blow up, as I know I will. It's just preventative maintenance on my part.

Mikey WILL have to make his own kind of music, just as we all must. But where most of us pick up those social cues in an attempt to make our music blend in with the rest of the orchestra of mankind, Mikey will be performing a solo. He has strong, loving parents who have done and will do their best to help him cope with the effects of making his own kind of music, but at some point he will have to take their strength as his own in order to continue life on his own. He is learning coping mechanisms, both on his own and with instructions from his mom and dad and his teachers, but I think it will always be a struggle for him.

And here's the thing; here's the prize at the end of the contest. By making his own kind of music, no matter how hard it will be and no matter how many tears and how much pain it will bring to those who love him and hate to see him hurt, Mikey will be all the better as a person for it...and so will the rest of the world. Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations.

Here are the lyrics:

Nobody can tell ya;
There's only one song worth singin'.
They may try and sell ya,
'cause it hangs them up
to see someone like you.

But you've gotta make your own kind of music
sing your own special song,
make your own kind of music even if nobody
else sing along.

So if you cannot take my hand,
and if you must be goin',
I will understand.

You're gonna be knowing
the loneliest kind of lonely.
It may be rough goin',
just to do your thing's
the hardest thing to do.

But you've gotta make your own kind of music
sing your own special song,
make your own kind of music even if nobody
else sings along.

So if you cannot take my hand,
and if you must be goin',
I will understand.

You gotta make your own kind of music
sing your own special song,
make your own kind of music even if nobody
else sings along.


There were always a lot of suppositions about what exactly the lyrics meant. Some said it was Mama Cass' rebellion against the record company that wanted the Mamas and the Papas to keep a certain commercial style to their music; others said is was an anthem for gay rights and still others believe it was all-inclusive, celebrating the diversity of all mankind. I myself am partial to the last theory. If you harm no one else intentionally, your music and your song add to the symphony of the universe.

Mikey probably won't read this for a few years, if ever. But I always want him to know: Granddad loves you Mikey. Always make your own kind of music in your life and sing your own special song. It will be great because YOU are great!

4 comments:

Cindy said...

You brought tears to my eyes. Mikey is surround by a large family that loves him. He will always know we love him and would do anything to help him. Maybe in the end the love will help off set the cruel world we live in. Mikey Grandma loves you very much.....

The Word Of Jeff said...

Cindy,

All of that is absolutely true.

AnnMarie said...

That was so sweet.Trust me,I am right there with you on the "I can't beat up small children" bus which transfers to the "There's jail time involved with shooting people of any age" train. It's constantly in my head. I have read enough of adult Autistics saying the school years were the worst but as adults they love who they are. I hope in the end Mikey feels the same.

The Word Of Jeff said...

AnnMarie,

I know and have that same hope. And as Grandma posted earlier, Mikey is surrounded by family that loves him. Hopefully that will compensate for the rest.

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