Life tracks


My husband brought home a sound system with an enormous, ugly speaker, and slid it onto the kitchen counter next to the vintage blue scale holding three artfully arranged white pumpkins. I told him no. I moved it to another room when he wasn’t looking. I said “absolutely not”, when it magically re-appeared. Beauty always wins out over function for me. He convinced me to turn the speaker on and use it until he could find a way to wire it into a less obvious venue. He’s a cracker-jack lawyer, that one.

I spent a day listening to jazz. Then I discovered the acoustic channel, and after much fumbling, I figured out how to stream in my own playlist. Bliss. I turned up the sound to White Owl while I peeled potatoes for dinner, and the music transported me back to Switzerland. The scent of fir trees caught in the back of my throat, and I heard the muffled crunch of snow under my running shoes. While my hands prepared a meal, my mind ran through Horgenberg, along the rock-strewn path around the lake. Forest to my left, fields to my right, cold air filtering through my chest.

I forget that my days, even entire life seasons, have a soundtrack. There were a number of years where, out of necessity and a deep need for soul silence, I pressed pause on the music. The cacophony of the baby’s cries and the toddler’s calls and the ever-present physical needs that shouted “Listen to me!” all day long put my sensitive ears on overload. I could not take in one more sound, one more insistence that I pay attention to this moment. I think, perhaps, I listen a little too hard.

I remember the passing of seasons when familiar music plays, and I feel grateful for so many of them, wistful for others, even angry at a few. The music is a mirror image in many ways. The songs are weird and eclectic and pure pop sugar and raw. They are forests and birthing rooms and finish lines. They are first dates and poetry and watching my younger self dance in front of the basement glass door. They are the muffled crunch, the inward scream, the healing balm.

I set Switzerland to the soundtrack of Güngor and Josh Garrels. Their art served me well in that place. I don’t know what the soundtrack of our new/old life in New Jersey will sound like, but now I have an ugly/beautiful sound system to help me figure it out.


What are you listening to in this season of your life? What soundtrack is the most meaningful to you?


  • Andrea Frazer

    I found you through Stacey Niequest’s comments and had to laugh at your post. My husband, too, hooked up a speaker the size of Dora the Explorer’s head in our TV room – which wasn’t so bad – but now it’s our dining room. It will not go with my future damask wall paper, but the retro music coming out of it will be nice – nothing some lace curtains can’t hide either. What a well written post. It really popped. I will be reading more for sure! Andrea (

    • KimberlyCoyle

      Thanks so much for stopping by, Andrea! I hope you stick around:) I so sympathize with your speaker issues. I can’t even get started on the size of the television. Sigh.

  • Mark Allman

    So where has that ugly/beautiful sound system ended up???? 🙂

  • I have a friend who hides the ugly stereo in a large picnic basket sitting in the room you can’t see it and it doesn’t muffle the sound. Might that help?

  • KimberlyAmici

    I just discovered Josh Garrels a few months back, so soothing… I tried to get hubby to put speakers in the ceiling when we did our basement reno and he didn’t want to. Now we have cluncky wireless speakers throughout the house… I fight the urge to say ‘told you so”.