“Out of Darkness Through Music” story transcript
Bryan Clinthorne: I’m Bryan Clinthorne, and today we’re gonna be talking about music as a healer. However, and bear with me, it might take a minute to get there. I’d like to take you back to May of 2018 for a moment, and though it feels like an eternity ago in the current whirlwind of affairs for me, that was when my greatest storm struck port.
I was 19 at the time, struggling to fix my first car whose suspension decided to be incredibly difficult. My father, who was a certified master mechanic, and I, a distinguished flashlight holder, was laid out on the cement one last time after a lifetime of such simple days. The old fella was feeling tired after a long day, and to be honest, after beating a punch into the thing for six hours, I was feeling it too. I didn’t know a sixty-three year old man could push himself that hard – he could outrun and outwork me at three times my age. I thought he was invincible.
He crashed into bed after having a light dinner, and he slept. He always slept off a long day of work, before fearlessly tossing himself [unintelligible]. The next day was different though. He was still lying in bed, and still [unintelligible]. He just came down with something. He’ll be fine. He always is. At least, that’s what I told myself to get to bed that night.
Two days later, I was woken up at four-o’clock in the morning to very intense, but very quiet speaking, “we’re going to the hospital” was the entirety of the conversation I exchanged with my mother before she whisked my old man off. “Dad’s gonna be alright, isn’t he?” I said to my brother, the gravity of the situation still not setting in. “Of course he is, he always is,” he responded uneasily. We rushed out of the house, in an attempt to see our old man before… before he went in for whatever procedure would make him better.
A drive later, and we were there. Nurses were rushing about the E.R. and anesthesiologists were running around like chickens with their heads cut off but we managed to see him nonetheless. “How ’you feeling, Pop?” Before he answered me, he turned to the nurse and apologized for being such an imposition. I leaned into his ear, “Stop apologizing, you stubborn, old bastard. They’re here to take care of you. You’re gonna be fine.” He looked back at me and for the first time in my life, he looked afraid. That was the last time I saw him.
The next two weeks were spent in shaded hospital rooms and when we had hope, there was music. But as he slipped away from us, the silence crept in. There were little things to keep us going at Henry Ford. Whenever a baby was born in the maternity ward, they played a lullaby over the PA and it let everyone in the hospital know.
The piece that you heard earlier is If Ye Love Me by Thomas Tallis, a piece from the Renaissance that my father and I listened to everyday before he passed away. In the following month and years, music was really the only thing that drove me forward – the ability to create something beautiful, but more importantly, something to share with the people you love. With music, I could create something beautiful, and more importantly, something to be shared in a way that I never could, through the spoken and written word. I’m by no stretch of imagination religious but the words, “lamb of God, grant us peace” could be communicated with the reverence and comfort I could never feel on my own. And I have Samuel Barber to thank for that particular revelation. The only constant in those days was music, and the only constant in these days, troubling as they are, is music. [Music fades.]