October 15, 2010

So You Think You CAN’T Dance?

Filed under: Memory Eternal,The Healing Project — Ann @ 10:15 am

The other day I was hard at work at the psychologist’s office, churning out 1368 evaluations (California Penal Code Section 1368) and deeply focused on the task. Although I have my own office, it’s next to the reception area in which is always playing KJZY 93.7 FM, primarily to block out sounds (read: shouts, tears) from the various therapists’ offices. Usually I tune out the music unless something familiar tickles my aural fancy. This day was different.

I was alone in the office and as I typed I heard the early strains of a song which, in the 70s, ripped me apart emotionally every time I heard it. In that regard it was the pop version of Faure’s Pavane. The song is “With You I’m Born Again” by Billy Preston and Syreeta Wright. If you know the song, you know that it begins softly and builds to a sweet and swirling crescendo, with violins and vocal harmonies and all kinds of heart-tugging melodies and counter-melodies caressing the senses.

Before I knew it, I was out in the reception area — DANCING. Part ballerina, part jazzster, calling upon my 14 years’ experience in community theatre chorus lines, I moved gracefully about the room, twirling and bending and dipping and letting Billy and Syreeta’s voices take me where they would. It was…sublime.

When it was over I looked around a bit self-consciously (geez, I hope there’s no “nanny cam” in here!), smiled, and went back to my office to resume typing. But it was a transformative experience, the act of giving in to whatever my mind and body demanded of me in the moment. It made me feel ice-water-bath alive.

This morning I went in search of the melody and found it here. (There’s also a live version which is just beautiful, as you can watch the singers make musical love to one another.) As I listened, I remembered The Dance. And then, to my great sadness I noticed an adjacent story about Billy Preston having died several years ago from a sort of hypertension. Often called “the Fifth Beatle” because he played keyboards on so many of their albums, he was a tragically young 59 years old at his passing. I wish I had immersed myself in his music more, gotten to know him as a performer, before we lost him.

I think later today I’ll dance in his memory. Because with him, and through him, for a little while last week I was, in a very important way, born again.

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