Song & Emotion

The Dig Me Out Podcast guys recently recorded an episode about Karate‘s 1997 album, In Place of Real Insight. The mention of Karate brought back all sorts of memories that, in a different time, would be happy ones that put a smile on my face.

I’ve learned, in dealing with grief, that writing things down allows me to exorcise some of the thoughts swirling around in my head rather than holding them in and allowing them to sink me into deep(er) despair. In 2018, I lost my daughter, Liv, to a blood clot on the brain. I don’t know that I’ve written that statement very often and even now it chills me to the bone. It’s a never-ending nightmare that I know I can’t wake up from. Though we were blessed with 17-and-a-half years with her and all the fun and wonderful and, heck, even mundane experiences and stories, all of those stories turn sour with how the story ends. So, that’s why this story about Karate is one that I’d always enjoyed telling but haven’t told in a number of years and, honestly, never thought I would tell again.

I actually still have the email I sent to Geoff Farina, Karate’s lead singer, on January 12, 2001.

Hi Geoff –

Don’t know if your publicist passed along this message to you. I’ll try to keep it short and sweet. I have a 2 month old daughter named Olivia. The week that we brought her home from the hospital was a somewhat tough one. She wasn’t real wild about sleeping through the night. My wife and I took shifts staying up with her. During one of my shifts (around 3 am), I jumped on the computer to check my e-mail. Olivia was upset and crying for no reason (she wasn’t hungry and didn’t need her diaper changed). I logged onto WOXY (Oxford, Ohio radio station) and listened to their webcast. The first song we heard was Karate’s “Sever.” Olivia stopped crying and became very interested in the music coming from the computer. Her mood changed from upset to complacent. Shortly thereafter (during a K.D. Lang song), Olivia fell asleep in my arms. For that, I will forever be grateful. It was then that I determined that Olivia must have found the music soothing and interesting. Your publicist just sent me the CD and I’ve been playing it for Olivia when I rock her to sleep at night (it’s replaced “Tranquil Sounds — Ocean Waves” as the disc of choice).

Thanks for making music that both my daughter and I enjoy.

With the email, I sent a photo of Olivia in her crib with the Karate CD next to her. Much to my surprise, Geoff responded a few hours later.

Yeah, my publicist did forward this to me and I thought it was great, but thanks for the pix…they’re great! What a great story. It’s true that our audience seems to get younger each year, but I didn’t expect this.

Interestingly enough, shortly after this email exchange, I was going through a stack of press releases I had gotten in the mail and found one from Karate’s publicist with tour dates. What was super coincidental is that on the night that I became a first-time father (November 4, 2000), Karate was playing a show at Bernie’s Bagels in Columbus. The fact that, two months later, Karate helped put Liv to sleep made so much more sense, it felt like one of those weird universal bonds that just happen and that we’re powerless to control.

I always dreamed that, as Liv got older, she’d randomly pick up a Karate CD or album and become a fan. I’d share with her the story about how she heard “Sever” when she was just a few months old and how it lulled her to sleep. Unfortunately, I tried to play the song for her at different times in her life but she was more into indie-pop and she didn’t really care for Karate’s indie-jazz sound.

It’s been a while since I’ve listened to “Sever” and while it brings back good memories, the darkness is winning the battle and I know if I listen to the song now it’ll trigger the bad memories so I’ll put it off for another day.

I miss you, Liv. I wish we could listen to “Sever” together tonight to see if you could feel some connection to the song.

One thought on “Song & Emotion”

  1. This is wonderful and heartbreaking and tragic and beautiful in the ways that life is, and I wish I had something brilliant to say, but I really don’t. It’s moving. I’m sorry. This shows the power of music. This shows the power of grief. I sympathize. I can’t truly relate, having not lost a child. I’ve lost a brother, a father, someone I was in love with. Not a child. I’ll never understand, despite understanding grief. I’ll go listen to Karate next week with you and Olivia on my mind.

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