Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Angel Time

It is a lovely song, far more affecting and restrained than you would expect to find on a children's Christmas compilation from Walt Disney records.

The CD liner is long gone, so I know only that the song is called Angel Time and it's a rather stirring ballad sung by a woman with a strong, lilting voice.

And for whatever reason this song has found its way into my son's tender heart and moved him more than he can understand or fully express.

The first time Graham heard it, I noticed him perk up and listen intently.

"Is that you singing mommy?"

God bless his indiscriminate little soul: he's not yet aware of my vocal, ahem, limitations.

"No sweetie, it's not mommy, it's another lady singing."

He nodded, satisfied. "It must be the other mommy then."

The next time the song came on Graham immediately rushed to me. "I want a huggy while I listen to the other mommy," he said, while climbing into my arms.

But it's what Graham did next that floored me.

He started to sob.

Graham wept throughout the entire song. Tears ran down his face as he clung to me, raising his face just a few times to kiss my cheek, before he buried it again in my shoulder.

And after the song ended, he sniffled and composed himself.

"I want to listen to the other mommy again, please mommy."

And I hesitated because I felt confused about whether I should be complicit in something that made my son cry. It seemed strange and upsetting the notion that a mother should orchestrate a scenario that would drive a child into her arms seeking comfort.

But he begged to hear the other mommy sing Angel Time again. And I finally relented and played it, twice more, at his strong insistence.

And each time, as soon as the first notes sounded, he settled into my arms, started to sway to the melody and sobbed as if his little heart would break.

After the third time, I declined to play the song again, so drained was I by his reaction.

"Does that song make you feel sad Graham?" I asked gently.

He just shrugged.

"Does it kind of make you feel sad and happy at the same time?"

He nodded.

And then I got it.

I suddenly understood because I too have been moved by music on countless occasions throughout my life: I cannot get through the Dixie Chicks' version of Landslide without crying and Jack Johnson singing Better Together lifts my heart in a way that gladdens my entire soul.

Despite my lack of singing talent, we are a musical family. There is an abundance of talent on both sides. Sing-a-long evenings involving uncles and aunts and cousins are a regular occurrence. Rob was a local punk-rock hero in his day and my nephew is a budding rock star. My father and brother play guitar, my mother plays piano and I play both.

Music has been responsible for some of the best moments in my life because it is music that has precipitated the moments in which I dare to believe that all the beauty and longing and pain and poignancy of life can somehow be universally expressed and understood.

And I think more than anything else that Graham has learned, it is this - this dawning realization of the power of music - that makes me the most proud of the person he is becoming.

*Edited to add: I Googled the song but came up with nothing. It is the 6th track on the Christmas at Home CD from Walt Disney Records. If you can determine who actually sings it, let me know!"

*Re-edited to say still not sure of artist but it's a woman, not Chris Martin AND the wonderful Parent Club provided a link to Graham's version here -,,3022293-6385338,00.html - Thanks!*

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the planet of janet said...

beautiful post.

and of course, you sent me flying to youtube to look for the song.

and it's not there.


Aunt Becky said...

I understand precisely what he felt.

Mara said...

How sweet he is growing up so fast!


Bird's Eye View Photography said...

Wow! What sweet little boy you have there!

Anonymous said...

This was a beautiful post.. I feel the same exact way about music..

Jaina said...

Chris Martin? I'm at work so I can't listen to the preview. It's a different cd too. The only actual of that cd I can find only lists "Disney" as the artist. I bet if you emailed Disney they'd be able to tell you.

Graham is too cute, by the way. I share his sentiments about music. :)

ewe are here said...

What a sweet boy you have.

Michelle said...

That is beautiful. What a sweetheart! I completely know how he feels... there are songs that still make me cry. I have been known to BAWL during certain renditions of "Hallelujah".

Tara R. said...

What a tender heart your little man had. This post made me tear up.

April said...

And how wonderful for you to stifle your own desire to stop his tears, and show him that it's okay to feel things that make us cry sometimes. said...

Oh, Graham, you little sweetie...

Evan cried over The Little Mermaid because her father made her a human and she'd never see her family again.
And he loves for me to sing You Are my Sunshine, but cries when thinking about having to be separated from me.

Lovely and heart breaking...

Maggie, Dammit said...

Just today, I was thinking how scary it is, how profoundly impacted by music I am. How my mood can instantly change - and I don't mean a little, I mean drastically - with just a few notes of any given song. To witness this in my children would be even more frightening, although I guess I've seen hints of it from time to time.

I don't know why I'm talking about fear -- all that emotion, I guess.

Beautiful post.

Rachel said...

I hope someone finds it because you have piqued my interest.

Absolutely beautiful post. The power of music is just unbelievable.

Heather said...

Oh, what a heart he has. There are several songs that evoke that reaction in me. One is Held by Natalie Grant. I defy you to listen to it and not cry at least the first 5 times you hear it.

My daughter watched Charlotte's Web and had tears running down her face. Ah, who am I kidding? I did too.

Unknown said...

This is a beautiful post. I would never expect that reaction from a child. He is a sensitive one.

Gretchen said...

Whoa, that boy is mature. How amazing.

And, I get teary when I hear Dixie Chicks sing Cowboy "Take Me Away", and Rascal Flatts "Mayberry". I just miss the country so much!

Anonymous said...

It's also on Disney's Family Christmas Collection. I wonder if this chris Martin guy could be the Chris Martin of Coldplay fame?

Parent Club said...

You can listen to it here;,,3022293-6385338,00.html

Mandy said...

Awwww! *sniff* For him to be that young and to be so moved by that song. Wow.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Wouldn't you love to really know what's going on his head as he listens to this? How wonderful to have this glimpse into who he will become.

Noob Mommy said...

Hi there! Thanks for following me on Twitter. I stumbled over here..and I decided we are "soulmates" :) My First Dance at our wedding was to Landslide (sung by my best friend). But every time I hear the Dixie Chicks version, I cry! Sigh. Will have to go dig it up today. Take care!

Last Place Finisher said...

I wonder what it was that touched your child. It's understandable that the song could make him both sad and happy -- it's that wonderful melancholy -- I'm just curious if you could pinpoint it.

When my daughter was a little thing, she couldn't get enough of the Talking Heads song, "Psycho Killer." I was always too scared to figure out why.

Karen MEG said...

Oh Graham is such a sweet, sweet little soul. It's incredible that he is so touched by music at such a young age. This was a lovely post.

I am NOT by any means a singer, but my kids still love when I sing their lullabies to them, even the big boy.

Music has always played a huge part in my life as well, and we've always something playing in the background at home.

I'm chuckling at Last Place finisher's comment about his daughter's fave Talking heads song... the boy used to "fa fa fa fa" along to it as a toddler too :)

CC said...

Wow. What a deep and powerful description as well as what a deep boy you have there!

Blog said...

I love that picture of the two of you. And, what a beautiful post. Music is very important in our house, too. Both my kids are dancers -- especially in the backseat of my car! ;)

Pregnantly Plump said...

I like music, and do cry with certain songs. But my husband LOVES music. He bought Little Elvis his first guitar while I was 5 months pregnant.
Little Elvis is starting to love music as well. He's not picky at the moment. Any song will do, but the second it stops playing, he starts bawling. He gets especially inconsoleable (sp?) at the end of Happy Birthday. I have a feeling that as he gets older, we will have similar situations with songs.

OHmommy said...

He reminds me so much of Jay. What a gentle soul. Hug him tight.

Joanna said...

What a little sweetie.