File:Waves on the Beach.jpg

By John Vetterli (originally posted to Flickr as Waves on the Beach) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Soothing sounds are all around us. Nature is full of them. One obvious example is the beach. They make recordings of ocean waves to soothe people. Of course the beach will be on the list. Crickets chirping, birds singing, bees buzzing… There’s a symphony outside if you’re listening for it.

I personally love symphonies, both natural and orchestrated. I love most music. But it’s hardly fair to compare rap, country and rock, because those are a matter of personal taste. Better to look at several renditions of the same song. Take “The Star Spangled Banner,” and orchestral, rock and a cappella versions of it.

When I hear my high school band play the national anthem, I remember the elation I felt upon being chosen color guard captain and the stabbing, searing pain when I blew out my knee. I remember hours of grueling practices on hot asphalt and ten minutes under the bright lights before winning the Best Auxiliary and Best Band trophies in competition. I remember running onto the field for the fight song and watching my husband, then my boyfriend and the captain of the football team, crunching opponents in smashmouth football. There is pride in self, pride in school, pride in country.

When I hear the Jimi Hendrix version, I think of mud-soaked fields and flower children. I see peace signs, smiley faces, flowers and rainbows. I see hemp leaves and bell bottoms, tinted glasses and afros. This song is anti-establishment. These people may love their country, but they aren’t willing to die for it.

When I hear the Roseanne Barr version, I am nothing but revolted. I feel no national pride, no country honor from her, although it strengthens my own feelings toward my country. I feel anger and embarrassment for the incident.

How can three renditions of the same song evoke such different responses in self and in country? I could write a dissertation on it.

Clearly music isn’t the way to go with what sound is the best I ever heard. So what is? What sound tugs at my heart and squeezes my soul so I laugh and cry at the same time?

It’s so obvious. And too fleeting.

My babies.

The sound of their cries as they first entered the world.

The sound of their first coos as they tried expressing themselves.

The sound of their first laugh, which surprised them as much as us.

The sound of their first words, which they said repeatedly, delighting themselves as much as us.

My children are teenagers now, and their voices have changed. They speak when they want. Sometimes they speak when I wish they wouldn’t. Sometimes they don’t answer when I call. I can never get back those precious first sounds. We’ll always have nature unless we royally screw things up. We’ll always have music, and we each have our own tastes there, with different styles evoking different responses and different songs bringing forth different memories. But we only have a limited window in which to experience those first precious sounds with our babies. Video recordings just can’t capture the magic of live sounds. Maybe part of the joy and wonder of baby sounds is the experience of having babies itself.

File:Hospital newborn with flag hatby Bonnie Gruenberg8.jpg

By Bonnie U. Gruenberg (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Weekly Writing Challenge: The Sound of Blogging


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