My work at Mercy leads me to spending time with many brave people battling cancer each week. So many songs are sung, and so many stories are told. Friendships are made and comfort is provided. Sometimes we laugh, and sometimes we cry. This particular post is focused on the latter.
When I started my floor rounds at the hospital, one of the first patients that I spent time with left one of the biggest impressions on me. He and his family had just begun exploring hospice options and as you can imagine, a great deal of emotion was present. He requested that I play a song that he wanted to dedicate to his wife and two daughters, who were present, and I quickly obliged, not at all anticipating the reaction it would have.
The song: “Don’t Worry About Me” as performed by Marty Robbins
I had sung the song 100 times in different settings, for different ages and populations, but never in a setting like this. I didn’t think too much besides “what a great song for him to choose to dedicate to them”, but this reaction was based solely on the title of the song. As I continued to sing though, the lyrics suddenly took on a whole new meaning. If you know the song, then you know Marty is singing about moving on from a break-up (you can listen to it here if you haven’t heard it). Whether you know the song or not, I’d like you to take a moment to read the lyrics from the view of this man as if he was singing it to his family as a final farewell. Emotions grew and many tears were shed, but the love was strongly felt throughout the room.
Don’t worry bout me, it’s all over now
Though I may be blue, I’ll manage somehow
Love can’t be explained, can’t be controlled
One day it’s warm, next day it’s cold
Don’t pity me, cause I’m feeling blue
Don’t be ashamed, it might have been you
Oh Oh Oh Oh love, kiss me one time, then go love, I’ll understand
Don’t worry bout me
Sweet, sweet, sweet love, I want you to be
As happy as I, when you loved me
I’ll never forget you, your sweet memory
It’s all over now, don’t worry bout me
When one heart tells, one heart goodbye
One heart is free, one heart will cry
Oh oh oh oh sweet, sweet baby sweet, baby sweet
It’s all right, don’t worry bout me
The most powerful lyrics in that moment were the last four lines. As he and his wife held hands, the tears streamed and you could feel the love and emotion. His daughters were close by, trying to hold back tears, yet with smiles on their faces. It was truly one of my most favorite moments as a music therapist to date. I will never forget that family and the cathartic moment I was able to provide for them. To this day, every time I sing this song I think about them and the new perspective I gained that day.
Music affects everyone differently and people listen to all types of music. Just as we cannot assume one’s musical preference, we also cannot assume their perspective of the music, especially the lyrics. Reason #489 why I love music therapy.