When Daddy died on October 15, 1998, a chapter in Fields of Gold: A Love Story ended, in a physical sense, for Mama and for us kids. One of the first things I did after Daddy died was to compile music that encapsulated his and Mama’s life together. Their love. Their commitment. Daddy’s death.
Here’s a small sampling from this part of the soundtrack of our lives.
One of the songs I included is part of the title of their memoir. “Fields of Gold” was a track on Sting’s 1993 album Ten Summoner’s Tales. I first heard Sting when he was the front man (and primary songwriter) for The Police. The moment I first heard the opening riffs of “Roxanne,” I knew there was new genre of rock music emerging (I had these same realizations the first time I heard Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and later Coldplay’s “Clocks“), and it was a refreshing alternative to the mostly banal tenor of music that characterized the decade before (1970’s).
A former high school English teacher, Sting also caught my attention because of his intelligent and insightful lyrics and his frequent allusions to English literature in songs like “Wrapped Around My Finger” and “Don’t Stand So Close to Me.”
As a solo artist, Sting departed from the more stark and bare bones musical sound of The Police, and embraced a more full orchestration musically. His lyrics also matured as they revealed a man who was building a family and a life. Sting’s first solo album, The Dream of the Blue Turtles, which I consider his seminal album, featured the haunting “Russians” and the introspective “Fortress Around Your Heart.”
By 1993, Sting’s transition to a happy and contented family man was complete, and Ten Summoner’s Tales is evidence of that, with “Fields of Gold” as the most compelling testimony. I heard many shades of my own parents’ love story that included us kids in that song:
Another song that I included on my compilation was an old Jimmy Buffet song, “He Went to Paris.” One of the last lines of the song seemed to encapsulate Daddy’s optimistic outlook on life:
Daddy and Mama, because of their educational pursuits and careers, had times in their lives together before and after marriage when they were apart from each other for longer-than-they-wanted-to-be periods of time. Another song that I included, Firefall’s “Just Remember I Love You,” reflected the endurance of their commitment and love despite the physical distance that separated them at times:
And, as I witnessed, in the fall of 1998, Mama’s heart-breaking grief process as she began to adjust to life without her best friend and soulmate, I could not help but be reminded of Justin Hayward’s “Forever Autumn:”
The soundtrack of our lives is sometimes bittersweet. But as the narrator of “He Went to Paris,” summarizes, in the end “Some of it’s magic, some of it’s tragic, but I had a good life all the way.”
Have a great Sunday morning! Don’t forget to not only remember the soundtrack of your lives, but to continue to add new tracks to it!