Strange Music did not save my life. It did not help me through a crippling disease, or pull me out of a horrible state of depression and grief.
I did that.
The music did help though.
My life over the last ten years has had more ups and downs than an all-nighter with a Vegas escort. I have tried my best to keep things positive. Humorous. I wish I could tell you my life is a great mixture of unicorns, rainbows and puppy dogs. It’s not. I wish I could tell you that I am a total hard-ass and that nothing ever gets to me. That I have no regrets.
That is not the case.
The first time I ever heard Tech N9ne was in the summer of 2004. My brother and I were headed to visit our mother in the hospital. She was diagnosed with cancer a few days before and my somewhat mundane life had been replaced with the seventh circle of hell.
So we are driving back to the hopsital for the second time in a ten-hour period. My brother tells me to get into his CD case and find the CD marked T-9 Anghellic.
After a few minutes of searching and chiding him about taking care of his music collection, found it and popped it into the stereo.
I was enraptured.
“Who is this? Where his he from?”
My brother filled me in on all of the paticulars. Then he smiled and said “Wanna hear mom’s favorite song on this album?” He then clicked forward to track 17: “This Ring”.
I was not shocked that my mom liked this new, awesome music I was just hearing for the first time. Our parents had raised us to be pretty ecletic when it came to such things. I was shocked that she had heard it before I did and didn’t say a damn word about it.
We rode the rest of the way with the windows down and the music up. When we got to the hospital I asked if I could borrow the album. I was in love.
Mom’s cancer turned out to be the killing kind. I remember when she told us I couldn’t really compute it. I kept saying “Terminal?” like some sort of cracked-out parrot. The next five months were not quite reality. I spent a lot of time driving to and from her house, or to and from the hospital. By this time I had hunted down all of the Tech I could find. I would throw it into a CD player, turn it up as far as it would go (I blew my speakers…twice) and I would drive and scream the words. Who needs therapy? When I would go on my drives I could forget the horror I knew was around the bend, or I could stew in it and bawl my eyes out, but by the time I got to my Mom, I was able to face her renewed. Help her where it was needed, try to make her day a little better. And on the way home, I was able to purge the daily heartache.
On November 15, exactly five months to the day she was diagnosed, my Mom left this earth. In her own home with her family by her side.
I remember crying silently. Tears, by the bucketload, but no sound. So many different emotions, it was sensory overload. I would go from numb to angry, angry to guilty and to the most horrible feeling of grief. There was no outlet for it. I could have thrown a tantrum, screamed, broken things, broken down, it wouldn’t have made a damn bit of difference. My chest felt like it was going to explode. I believe I suffered heartbreak in the most literal sense of the word.
The next few weeks I did the auto-pilot thing. Almost all of us have been there, functioning just for the sake of doing so. Mindless.
During this time, I listened to a lot of music. Not just the Strange variety, although Tech did make the daily list. I would throw a pair of headphones on and try to escape. The success rate was hit and miss, but a little was better then nothing.
When luck heads South, it tends to want to vacation there awhile. I am not to sure why that is, but I know it to be the truth. Six months after my momma died, my husband’s mother died–and then an Uncle, and then a friend. Over the course of the next two-and-a-half years, 12 people, family and friends alike, crossed over to the proverbial great beyond. The final day of this streak of disaster, both of my grandfathers died within hours of eachother with nothing but 300 miles and a hospital bed in between them.
To say things were a hot mess would be a severe understatement. How could everything fall apart so quickly? Had I somehow slighted the Gods? Was there any Gods left to slight, or had they become sick of us so long ago they didn’t even bother to pay attention?
I dealt with depression, anxiety, strange bits of OCD behavior. I would check things repeatedly, count things over and over, worry myself into a frenzy about things I had no control over. Things are better these days, but it took work…and time.
Years passed. Life now begins to resemble something of a normal nature. I busy myself with motherhood, wifedom, work and music. Lots of music. I am not sure that the stereo ever was actually turned off, just the volume turned down. Tech N9ne is now a staple and the six-disc changer in my car has five different Strange Music CDs rotating through it. Tech has become a sort of musical God to me, with Krizz Kaliko playing Black Jesus. Life moves on.
One morning I wake up and my body hurts. Really hurts. I think “Gee, I must have slept wrong” and go about my day. The next morning I hurt a bit worse. Within a week, I could barely walk. I had to be helped down stairs, into and out of the car, on and off of the toilet (which for a 30-year-old-person is slightly degrading).
I went to the doctor. They treated me for bursitus. It didn’t get better.
I returned to the doctor, over and over again. Nothing seemed to help. I was on a slew of medications. Physical therapy. Even if something would help at first, within a week my pain would be back in full force. I was sent to specialists, and they came up with a word I had heard before but thought it was a cop out word for “We don’t know whats wrong with you:” Fibromyalgia. It is a medical disorder characterized by chronic widespread pain in the muscles and connective tissues, and I can tell you Fibromyalgia is not a cop out word. It is real and man it sucks. There are things you can do to help stave off some of the pain but there is no radical cure. I am told I will live with pain until the day I die. I guess in one way or another, this is true for all of us.
So we stick to the things that we know. The things and people that comfort us. For me, my family and friends are the number one thing in my life. I would be nothing without these people. When I am down, they build me up and vice versa.
Music is second. Could you imagine a world with no music? How horrible and lifeless things would be? I like to pose the question to people “If you could have T.V. or music, but not both, which would you choose?” If my memory serves me correctly, no one has ever said T.V.
I am constantly introducing people to Strange Music artists. I made a newbie playlist, my favorites, that I let people listen to. Four of five people are hooked after hearing it. The tracklist is as follows.
I also throw some King Gordy and Apathy on for good measure.
The last few years have been tough, but good things have happened too–times and situations that I hold dear: getting married, the birth of my son, being able to watch the people around me grow and change. I’m going back to school to become a funeral director so I might help people through their grief. I get to write for a record label that I dig. My family and friends for the most part are happy and healthy.
We all take the good with the bad. We have struggles and triumphs, pain and happiness. The things that hold us together through all of these times, no matter how unbelievably awesome, or undeniably terrible, are the things we need to keep close.
Strange Music did not save my life. It did not make me look 40% younger. It did not make my clothes whiter or brighter. There is no magic cure for life. Strange Music did make some really hard days more tolerable, and some really great days even that much better.
Live. Love. Listen.
– Meagen Couch, Strange Music Blog Contributor
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