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Bill Marcil Jr., Published May 04 2013

From the Publisher: Ever-powerful music is great communicator

I walk into the Shanley High School auditorium to see my daughter in the lead role. I sit back, the lights go dim, and my mind races back to the day she was born. Isabelle Rhea. As soon as she came home from the hospital, I started her on a steady diet of Counting Crows, U2, Third Eye Blind and the Goo Goo Dolls. “Old MacDonald”? Not so much but the girl knew the opening riff to “Mr. Jones” by 6 months. She didn’t really have a choice. Music was one of the few constant things in her life. At an early age, her mom and I couldn’t straighten out our own lives and we unfortunately tangled up hers. Lots of goodbyes, lots of tears. All great medicine if you are going to grow up to be a songwriter. I guess she can thank both her parents for that. I hope she remembers that when she receives her Grammy awards.

“How the West Was Won.” Her first solo. Must be the third grade. She looks like a cross between a pilgrim and a cowboy. The wardrobe parent must have been phoning it in on this one. There she stood. Singing away with the pilgrim boys. I see it clearly. I see her future. Main stage at Trollwood, Dorothy in “Wizard of Oz,” college away from home to study music. Coffee shops and bars. Three chords and the truth – the truth of a life lived and a life wished for. Lots of angst in that pretty little body. I hear her voice and I think of my own regrets, my own mistakes, not that I would change them, but I wonder how they affected her. I don’t need to guess. I hear the yearning in her voice. I hear the words beyond her years.

Today, I sit high above the stage at the “Wizard of Oz.” I conned my way to sit with the lighting guys because I figured I would cry like a baby when my daughter sang “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” I look at the two student lighting guys and say, “Have you ever seen a grown man cry? If you don’t want to … turn away, this won’t be pretty. ... ”

It has been said music is the great communicator. It doesn’t matter if you are in Nettie’s Diner in Sherwood, N.D., or a township in the outskirts of Cape Town, South Africa. Music permeates cultures, races and geography. Music has the power to connect all of us. It can bring us joy at a 2-year-old’s birthday party or bring us to tears from the aching sounds of an organ at a funeral.

As I look over the “Wizard of Oz” crowd, I am reminded of the power of music. I look at the crowd of young and old. I see little girls dressed up like Dorothy. I see tears and hear laughter. Music has been a great communicator for my family. It has been some of the glue that holds us together. If it is dancing around the kitchen to the soundtrack from “Hairspray,” or driving around North Dakota in a camper, listening to “Where the Streets Have No Name.” A beat is always there. Our soundtrack might be different from yours, but I hope that you can see the power music can have in connecting lives. Yours and mine.


Marcil is publisher of The Forum.