To Otis

As a singer, music means so much more to me than just a song I would sing in a show. Music for me reminds me of a deep love, a bitter hard ache, a past love that still makes my heart smile, a day riding around Hawaii with a great friend, a slow dance under the stars in the rain, a broken heart still healing. Music is the tapestry that makes up real love.

The power of music was brought up yesterday while racking my brain on another topic. A day after my 38 birthday, I was reminded of local Georgia music legend, Otis Redding. While out having drinks, Otis was brought up in conversation. I told my friend, that I was introduced to this song by a gentlemen years ago. To say the gentlemen  was in awe of me was an understatement, and though I was flattered, he was married, and I have a hard line about married men. This lovely man in my past said to me “I would love nothing more than to dance with you to this song.” He was a bright eyed Georgia boy with a fitted UGA hat on, and the song was “These Arms of Mine”. I did give him that dance, and while dancing, I listened deeply to those words

 

These arms of mine, they are lonely
Lonely and feeling blue
These arms of mine, they are yearning
Yearning from wanting you
And if you would let them hold you
Oh, how grateful I will be
These arms of mine, they are burning
Burning from wanting you
These arms of mine, they are wanting
Wanting to hold you
And if you would let them hold you
Oh how grateful I will be
Every so often I am reminded of that song, that gentlemen and that dance. As I got older, I realized the power music has to transform and inspire, and Otis’ words began to take a new meeting. After drinks I played the song for my friend who was not familiar with it. It was a rainy day and after we got to our destination I thought “I wonder if this is what Otis meant?” In that moment, I wanted to slow dance again to that song, but now with a deeper understanding of the lyrics. The arms that were yearning and burning from wanting that dance.
I had a long drive home and as fate would have it, a middle Georgia radio station was playing back to back Otis Redding songs. On a long lonely stretch of highway, I rolled the windows down and sang my heart out to each one. When I passed Gray, Georgia and saw the small monument to Otis, I looked back at it a smiled. And when I finally made it home, showered and in bed, Otis again began to play in my head. Who knows if I will have another dance like the one I originally had, or if my drinking partner would have taken me up on the dance yesterday, but I fell asleep last night with Otis; wrapped in his melodic arms, and it was some of the best sleep I have ever had.
Otis-Redding

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