Music is the soundtrack to our lives. We all have had a certain song that attaches itself to a special moment. The song, and the moment in time forever linked. Music has the power to elicit emotions in us, and to remind us. There is also music’s ability to define a moment as it is in progress. When the music almost comically fits the scene too well. This is referred to as “Radio I Ching”.
Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead referred to this term regarding his time spent with “Beat”, and “Prankster”, Neil Cassidy. He talked about the times where Neil’s actions during their psychedelic journeys, perfectly fit what was on the radio at the time. Neil’s stream of consciousness raps, and actions seemed hardwired to what was happening on the FM dial. Strange? Yes. Real? Definitely. In today’s age of portable music, its completely possible to encourage this kind of simpatico between real life and recorded music. But the real essence of “Radio I Ching” is its randomness. The ability for the universe to match up in completely random, yet meaningful ways. The feeling that the music playing, fits with the world we are living in.
I will use a few examples in my life to more adequately express the premise of “Radio I Ching” . While taking a trip back from the Adirondack Park a sudden urge for a caffeinated beverage came over me. After getting myself a towering steamy coffee, I plopped myself into the car to hear Bob Dylan’s “One More Cup Of Coffee” (To The Valley Below) come blasting out of the FM radio. I chuckled to myself and immediately thought, “Radio I Ching”. Another example of the way “Radio I Ching” has entered my consciousness was on a recent trip to Woodstock, NY. Traveling the farm filled back roads of New York State I approached a flashing interaction indicating a train stop. Just as my foot dropped to press down the break “The Kinks”, “Last Of The Steam-Powered Train’s” started it’s blusy shuffle from my speakers. It may seem silly to some, but “Radio I Ching” can be a defining moment in a music lovers life.
What makes of the concept “Radio I Ching” so interesting is it’s randomness. It’s the goose pimple feeling of music you love, becoming part of your life at the most opportune times. “Radio I Ching” is at its best when it comes creeping unexpectedly, and adds a feeling of “being” to a mundane day.”Radio I Ching”, is truly being “in the moment”. Obviously, the emotional strength of the action being undertaken only magnifies the “Radio I Ching” moment. One of the first songs that played on my turntable after the loss of my beloved pet, was “I Miss You” by Badfinger. While I was responsible for putting that record on the turntable previously, I had no control over how profound the effect was after the loss of my animal.I was also unaware of the song’s potential magnitude after such an emotional time. When the needle dropped it was again the music speaking through me, not necessarily to me.
“Radio I Ching” can happen at any time, in any situation, awareness is it’s only prerequisite. In contrast to the randomness of the universe, it is also up to us as listeners to direct our “I Ching” moments. Take music with you to fit the situations you may find yourself in. Like an athlete priming themselves for a competitive match with appropriate music. Let your listening preferences define your experience. Let the music be your guide on the journey through life. To quote Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, “Let the music be your master, can you heed the masters call?”
Obviously, the lyrics are what give the context in which a song fits a chosen moment. But instrumental music can also add into the “Radio I Ching” equation. I find that a late night drive down rutted dirt mountain roads fits perfectly with a mellow jazz infused 1973 Grateful Dead “Dark Star”. Or a sherbert sunset on Lake Ontario can act as the music video for some mid seventies Crosby, Stills, and Nash. The possibilities are endless. Similar to the concept of “Radio I Ching”, all music lovers I assert, can make music a soundtrack to their life. By joining life moments to a melody or lyrics, we can make life’s special times permanent fixtures of our memory. This is not an epiphany that I am taking credit for. We obviously have knowledge of the connection between life experience and music. Otherwise we would not have Wedding dances, or soundtracks to movies or television shows. The thoughts I have are directed more to having an awareness to capture and create these crystallized moments.The music we love can define our lives if we let it. Memories may fade, but music can let us replay our memories in technicolor for eternity.