In Tune: Musical serendipity in 'Our House' and beyond

In Tune: Musical serendipity in 'Our House' and beyond

July 31st, 2014 by Casey Phillips in Chattnow Music

For many years, "serendipity" has been on my short list of favorite words. It's sandwiched somewhere between "verisimilitude" and "phantasmagoria" but a few rungs down from "ultramarine."

If you're unfamiliar with the term, serendipity is happy coincidence, those moments when the universal powers-that-be decide to give you a break for once and things just happen to go your way.

Did the vending machine just spit out two sodas for the price of one? Well, frabjous day; you're the lucky beneficiary of serendipity. Was your favorite episode of "Seinfeld" playing as you tucked into a big salad and a Drake's coffee cake? Serendipity.

I bring up the topic not just because I love the word itself, but be cause the instances of serendipity in my life tend to be music-related.

I'm a firm believer that there's a perfect song for every moment. In an effort to make their songs relatable, many songwriters say they seek out the universal truths in their own experiences. That tends to result in a lot of "I've totally been there" moments for listeners.

And when that resonance parallels something you're going through - when a song comes on that seems perfectly paired to a moment in your life - it's musical serendipity.

For instance, my fiancée and I just purchased a house in St. Elmo. Like many homes in the neighborhood, it's older, which means we're facing a heap of must-do renovations before moving in, on top of planning a wedding. As our friends and relatives keep - unnecessarily - reminding us, we're simultaneously experiencing two of life's biggest stress inducers, and our anxiety levels are on the rise.

But while caulking a baseboard late at night last week, my phone began playing "Our House" by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Even though both our cats are indoor felines and hopefully will never end up in the yard, there was something just ... right ... about fixing my home while listening to a song about a couple enjoying their "very, very fine house" after "life used to be so hard."

Thanks to musical serendipity, I experienced a three-minute reprieve from the weight of all that worry and a reminder of why I love music. As a quintessentially human art form that is often based on universally shared experiences, it offers us solace in the knowledge that we're not alone in our misery or in our bliss.

Have you experienced your own moments of musical happenstance, when just the right song came on to suit the moment? Feel like sharing? Email me.

Contact Casey Phillips at cphillips@timesfree press.com or 423-757-6205. Follow him on Twitter at @PhillipsCTFP.