The Wheel of Life

July 26, 2023

Edited December 8, 2023

Run, don't walk

When you fall off the wheel of life, sometimes you can never get back on. The giant wheel that we have come to accept as "life" is, in fact, a grand illusion. As long as we keep running, we don't see that life is passing us by. In my youth, I could run like the wind blows; I would run everywhere. Why walk when you can run was my motto. Those of you who know my story know that I have not been able to run in 30 years. I can still walk, thankfully, but even that is becoming a challenge. I think I've fallen off the wheel of life twice now, with the second fall being the hardest. I have not been able to climb back on. I'm stuck in the trench, my wheels are turning, but I'm upside down. You see, I'm alone in this world, fending for myself. I've lost just about everything that makes life worth living, but thankfully, I have not lost that which has kept me alive, i.e., music, or my hearing, for that matter!

My trusty 30+-year-old Rotel stereo amplifier sound system with Camber speakers still plays like the day I bought it. And it sure has seen a lot of mileage, especially when it was hooked up to our television set. That stereo has been on much longer than it has been off. Bless the radio; it has kept me from drowning in the sound of my own life. Our thoughts can take us out in an instant. When the ol' hamster wheel gets going, it's easy to spiral out of control. Music helps to keep me grounded. Music is beauty. And given my current life situation, I'm not exposed to much beauty, except for music which helps to nourish the soul. Without music and radio, I would have certainly perished by now. It truly has been a lifesaver.

It's All In My Head

Before my separation, I would listen to music on my iPhone with earbuds; I could lose myself in the music without disturbing those around me. Now that I live alone, the music plays all day and all night through my stereo speakers. The one cool thing I experience when plugging in my headphones, however; I become immersed, and it feels like the band is playing inside your head. It's very different from listening to music through speakers, where you hear the humming of other appliances in the room, the sound of traffic passing by, etc. You are listening to music within the context of the world it is surrounded by, whereas, with headphones, all you get is the music, and it feels like it's planted dead center inside your brain. As far as I know, nothing else can do that other than some deep meditation.

Music is a language the whole world can understand and connect through. It's what reunites us when we attend events, from a funeral to a graduation to a marriage to a hockey game; music is there to lay the backdrop to life's moments. It leaves lasting impressions, some that last a lifetime. Some people actually avoid music because it triggers very sad emotions from their youth. I think it's a shame when a person has to cut themselves off like that as a matter of survival. I can't survive without it, and some people can't survive with it. Huh.

One of the big reasons I listen to so much music is because of my eyes. Yes, that's right, my eyes. I have chronic dry eyes due to my Sjögren's Syndrome. I can only watch so much TV before my eyes have had enough. With music, I can close my eyes and travel anywhere I want. I can't "binge" watch as is the trend these days, so I save my TV watching for about 1 to 2 hours a night.

Taken from "Confessions"

I listen to French and English public radio here in Canada. That means only music and no advertisements. It also means that the disk jockeys are extremely knowledgeable and wonderfully articulate. When they lay down the foundation for a song they are about to play, whether it's a little backstory as to how the song came to be or how the artist was discovered, it's always done with such decorum and class. The DJs are my family. I look forward to listening to each and every one of them. I wrote a chapter called "Confessions of a French Canadian," where I detail how much their shows have meant to me and been a source of entertainment and learning. Discovering these radio stations has enriched my life. I'm exposed to just about every style of music with very little, if any, traditional POP music. Okay, maybe the odd song here and there, but nothing like what you hear on advertisement-driven radio.

Songs That Saved My Life

When Bono turned 60 years old, he celebrated by writing 60 separate fan letters (you can see the list and read the fan letters here) to his musical heroes, everyone from the Beatles and the Ramones to Beyoncé and Billie Eilish. "These are some of the songs that saved my life," he wrote. "The ones I couldn't have lived without… the ones that got me from there to here, from heartbreak to happiness, zero to 60… through all the scrapes, all manner of nuisance, from the serious to the silly… and the joy, mostly joy."

I'd like to take a cue from him, if I may, and share the list of songs that saved my life with you. More precisely, these songs earmarked the good, the hard, the special, the unbridled, and the tender moments in my life that matter to me. Here they are in no particular order, just how they came to me. I ended up with 70 tracks. I can't seem to cull from the list to make it an even 60! I guess we can call them bonus tracks. 

  1. U2 - Where The Streets Have No Name
  2. Daniel Lanois - The Maker
  3. Elvis Presley - An American Trilogy
  4. Simon & Garfunkel - The Boxer
  5. U2 - Stuck in a Moment (you can't get out of)
  6. Abba - Dancing Queen
  7. Abba - Waterloo
  8. Depeche Mode - Enjoy the Silence
  9. The Beatles - A Day in the Life
  10. CCR - The Midnight Special
  11. The Rolling Stones - Sympathy for the Devil
  12. U2 - Kite
  13. U2 - Walk On
  14. Depeche Mode - Never Let Me Down Again
  15. The Verve - Bitter Sweet Symphony
  16. Harmonium - Pour un Instant
  17. U2 - Bad
  18. U2 - Grace
  19. Jackie De Shannon - What the World Needs Now (is love, sweet love)
  20. The Beatles - Let it Be
  21. Sheryl Crow - The Weather Channel
  22. Sheryl Crow - C'mon C'mon
  23. Sheryl Crow - I Shall Believe
  24. The Beastie Boys - Intergalactic
  25. The Beastie Boys - Sabotage
  26. New Order - Bizarre Love Triangle
  27. Oasis - Don't Look Back in Anger
  28. Blue Rodeo - Bad Timing
  29. Elvis Presley - A Little Less Conversation (JXL Remix)
  30. Elvis Presley - Suspicious Minds
  31. Elvis Presley - Moody Blue
  32. Sade - Ordinary Love
  33. Sade - Kiss of Life
  34. Simon & Garfunkel - The Sound of Silence
  35. U2 - One
  36. David Bowie - Heroes
  37. Corey Hart - Sunglasses at Night
  38. Corey Hart - 3rd of June
  39. Eurythmics - Sweet Dreams Are Made of This
  40. U2 - New Year's Day
  41. Neil Young - Harvest Moon
  42. U2 - Ground Beneath Her Feet
  43. The Cranberries - No Need To Argue
  44. U2 - So Cruel
  45. Michel Pagliaro - J’entends Frapper
  46. The Tokens - The Lion Sleeps Tonight
  47. Paul Simon - Graceland
  48. Diana Krall - The Look of Love
  49. Carl Douglas - Kung Fu Fighting 
  50. Ami Stewart - Knock On Wood
  51. Heart - Barracuda
  52. Def Leppard - Pour Some Sugar On Me
  53. Green Day - Good Riddance
  54. U2 - Ultraviolet (Light My Way)
  55. Vince Guaraldi Trio - Christmastime Is Here (Vocal Version)
  56. Zach Kleisinger - Nothing Special
  57. Marla & David Celia - Love of Life
  58. Klô Pelgag - J'aurai les cheveux longs
  59. Cigarettes After Sex - Pistol
  60. XTC - Dear God
  61. Sting - Fragile
  62. k.d. lang - Hallelujah
  63. Dolly Parton & Kenny Rodgers - Islands in the Stream
  64. Red Rider - Lunatic Fringe
  65. The Moody Blues - Question
  66. Don Henley - The Boys of Summer
  67. The Beatles - The Ballad of John and Yoko
  68. Proclaimers - I Would Walk 500 Miles
  69. Led Zeppelin - When The Levee Breaks
  70. Chris Isaack - Wicked Game

About halfway through curating my list, the phone rang; it was my wife Sherrie (ex-wife) calling to confirm she would be passing by to pick up some documents she needed to be printed. Sherrie has played a big part in my becoming such a musical hippie, so it seems fitting she would call just as I was working on my list of songs that saved my life!

I should add that it was a U2 concert that saved my life. That's when I fell head over heels in love with Sherrie, who at the time was my singing coach. It was in October of 2001, on the Elevation Tour, that at that moment, my life would forever be changed. I'd like to dedicate the chapter to Sherrie for having me discover a musical galaxy living inside of me that I did not know could be travelled. She believed in me and gave me the inspiration to pursue music in my life.

This chapter is much more about the music than it is about my health challenges, and that's okay. I'm trying not to weigh down all the chapters. So I guess the big question is, which song(s) will I choose to underscore this chapter? Although the song is not on my list, I'm choosing it as a tribute to an artist who passed away just today; I've decided on "Nothing Compares 2 U" by Sinéad O'Connor. That song, for me, encompasses how I feel about my wife and how I feel in my life at this moment, which is lost without her.

Written by Patrick Franc - a.k.a. Your Friendly Neighborhood Bionic Man

Nothing Compares 2 U – Sinéad O'Conner


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