Music takes us places. For so many of my favorite albums, there’s a moment in time that typically corresponds to it. The simple act if hitting shuffle on my iPod can trigger a flood of memories, some good, some sad. Counting Crows reminds me of college, Jimmy Buffet reminds me of the early days of dating my husband, Cake reminds me of my high school friends.
Today I downloaded the new Mumford and Sons album. I had preordered it a few weeks back, and was very much looking forward to it. As expected, it did not disappoint and I was quite happy with the purchase. The only problem I had was the twinge of sadness I was feeling as I began to listen to it.
The new album triggered the memory of earlier this summer when my kitty Abby passed away. We were watching a movie, and when it ended, we had put on a DVR concert of Mumford that we had recorded before we had gone on vacation. At that point, the lead singer hadn’t broken his hand and they were still scheduled to play at the Firefly Festival that summer. So, we were watching the show with eager anticipation of having the prospect to see them live in a few weeks.
I went upstairs to put pajamas on and found the kitty where she lay on the floor. Her furry body was still warm, but not moving. I called for my husband to come upstairs. In the sheer grief and shock, we left the DVR where it was, the screen frozen in what would normally have been a perfectly enjoyable moment, now marred by the pain of the sudden loss.
For weeks, I couldn’t hear their music without remembering that horrible moment. When we had gotten her as a kitten, I was listening to the Jayhawks’ Rainy Day Music, which always reminded me of her from then on. Now, her death too was commemorated by beloved music.
The single for the new Mumford album which was available earlier than the entire album itself, was aptly called, “I will wait.” Abby’s passing came after a week’s long wait for our return from vacation. In my grief, I blamed our prolonged absence for the deterioration of her preexisting heart condition which likely caused her death. The tribute, “I will wait,” seemed to be so true of the little animal who held on long enough to be reunited with her humans before succumbing to her illness.
The album also features a cover of the Simon and Garfunkel song, The Boxer, which on its own, brings tears to my eyes in its original format. Performed by Mumford, the ballad is overwhelmingly beautiful, a fitting tribute to the original. The rest of the album is new to me, but is honest and moving and I simply love it. I find it strange that music can trigger such deep and profound emotion, but with the simple twang of the banjo, I’m right back in that moment of unanticipated and unfathomable grief that time has yet to fade.