I’ve been working through some trauma issues lately, particularly as it relates to the Christian group I belonged to in college. During my session last Thursday, I mentioned how I allowed the members of this group to convince me Led Zeppelin were satanic. As a result, I sold my all albums and cassettes. The LPs I had were first editions. I secretly kept the 45 my friend, Tom, bought me. He was a good friend and bought it for me as an early birthday gift. Other than it, I had nothing but my memories of Led Zeppelin.
Until that point in time, music was a constant comfort for me. I was a percussionist. I had been playing since I was nine years old. I played in my school’s Wind Ensemble, Jazz Band, and Marching Band. I competed at the county and state level individually and with my school band. In college, I had a band. We released three albums. I found great comfort in a lot of genres, including classical, swing, ska, jazz, and rock. I never understood then, but music quelled whatever pain was swirling in my head and allowed me to forget for a while and be one with the music.
After my breakdown a few years ago, I couldn’t listen to music with lyrics anymore. All the songs I listened to hit hard, were felt deeper, and I would find myself spiraling. I listened to music without lyrics for a while, but I found I couldn’t stay focused enough to keep the intrusive memories and flashbacks away. So, I stopped. A key coping skill I had for most of my life was gone.
On Thursday, as I sat in my therapist’s office, I was conflicted as to whether I wanted to reveal how much I miss listening to music. I forgot, of course, she reads me well and I couldn’t hide it.
We talked about the issues I’ve had over the past couple of years with music. She asked if I had considered going back to trying to listen to Led Zeppelin again. I said I would think about it.
The truth is, I’m a bit scared. I have all these wonderful memories around Led Zeppelin and I don’t want them to be tainted, but I also need to consider it to get past this incredible sadness I have about letting other people decide what was best for me.
My worries also go back to when I tried to listen to Sting again earlier this year. It was a disaster. I carefully avoided one particular song as it brings up bad memories of a guy I used to date, who was not kind to me. I thought the rest of Sting’s songs would be okay. They weren’t. They just opened a door to flashbacks of being abused. So, I put the music away, again.
Led Zeppelin, however is different. All my memories, except one with this group, are happy ones. So I’ve been thinking about what I should do and allowed my mind to drift through several memories surrounding music.
My mom was not a rock fan. She listened to a lot of country and the “oldies” from the 1950s and 1960s. She still sings – off-key – with the radio to the likes of doo-wop and old country like Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, and Kenny Rogers.
My grandmother was more the Engelbert Humperdink and Julio Eglesias fan. She attended their concerts when I was a little girl. Her taste was completely opposite to mine, but she never made fun of me for what I chose to listen to.
Gram would sit and listen to Led Zeppelin if I asked her to. She really didn’t like “Stairway to Heaven.” She thought, stylistically, it was interesting, but it was a bit too heavy for her. She liked others, including “Tangerine” and “All My Love.”
One day, I asked her to listen to “Fool in the Rain.” It is my favorite Led Zeppelin song. “It’s not a bad song,” she said. “And I absolutely understand why you like it so much.” It’s something Gram always got about me. If you have an interesting drum track on a song paired with awesome lyrics, I’m probably going to like it. Gram immediately understood not only why I liked it musically, but she could see the physical change in my mood and body language whenever I played it. She liked “Fool in the Rain” because I liked it and it made me feel happy.
Not being able to listen to Led Zeppelin when I was a Christian destroyed a little piece of my soul which kept me sane. I get more sad than angry with myself for allowing others to manipulate my mind so much that I believed them when they told me I was going to hell for listening to music. I so very much wanted to belong in this world that I believed the lies of their religion, the lies of their ways of the world, and their constant barrage of telling me things I did was wrong.
I felt like a shitty human being because everything I did was wrong in their eyes and they needed to continually correct me. But they weren’t right. They preyed upon a lonely person, who was just trying to survive. They paid attention to me and pretended to care while brow-beating me into submission with words of disapproval about all the things I did wrong in my life.
They didn’t want to hear how Led Zeppelin, as well as Pink Floyd and Rush, brought me comfort, how Star Trek provided me hope for a better future, or how books opened my mind up to the world. I was always questioning things, always wondering, never fitting the mold they had set forth for what a Christian woman should be.
Although I’ve been an atheist since shortly after moving to Scottsbluff, some of the ideas and irrational beliefs members of this group drilled into me still linger in the back of my mind. I continue to struggle with the harmful words of love they conveyed to me. I know what they said was incorrect, but it doesn’t erase the pain or the automatic feelings of guilt and shame over things I should not be guilty or ashamed of.
After much thought and contemplation, I am going to give it a shot. I’ve made a playlist, which I’ve included below. There is no “Stairway to Heaven,” but it includes my favorite, “Fool in the Rain” as well as the beautiful “The Rain Song,” the gorgeous, ahead of its time, “Down by the Seaside,” and the absolutely delightful instrumental “Bron-Yr-Aur.”
The songs in the playlist are:
Fool in the Rain
Going to California
Out on the Tiles
All My Love
When the Levee Breaks
The Rain Song
Over the Hills and Far Away
What Is and What Should Never Be
Your Time is Gonna Come
That’s the Way
Living Loving Maid
Since I’ve Been Loving You
Rock and Roll
The Battle of Evermore
Trampled Under Foot
Down by the Seaside
In the Evening
South Bound Suarez
Dazed and Confused
Hey, Hey What Can I Do
There’s nothing more that I can say
But on a day like today I pass the time away
And walk a quiet mile with you